The last day of 2022 has arrived and that makes us look forward to the future. In 2023 the transition to electric vehicles will surely accelerate, continuing a big growth this year. If you traveled anywhere over the holiday period, it’s likely you saw a lot more Tesla Model 3 and Model Y on the road, along with a healthy dose of Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6 and many more.
Part of this transition to electric vehicles requires potential customers to have the necessary charging infrastructure to power their use cases for EVs. What we know is that the vast majority of users will charge their EVs at home, typically overnight, when energy costs are at their cheapest, or on the weekend, when you charge from solar during the day.
This charging routine works well day-to-day, but when the work stops and the holidays begin, naturally people travel longer distances to holiday destinations or to visit family and friends. These longer journeys require charging infrastructure along the way, certainly on major highways between cities, but also at destinations like hotels as well.
As EVs pass 5% of new vehicle sales in Australia, that translates into tens of thousands of EVs on our roads and if that grows to 7 or 8% in 2023, we really need to put our foot on the accelerator pedal when it comes to chargers. In the next few years, we’re likely to see this climb past 10 and maybe even 15%, on it’s way to a majority of new vehicle sales by 2035.
There has been a number of reports in the past week of EV owners having to wait to charge their cars, particularly Tesla’s at Superchargers.
The Christmas period is essentially the worst-case scenario, with the most amount of people moving the longest distances. While chargers are available 24 hours a day, many of us move between locations during the day and a location like Albury Wodonga, a mid-point between Sydney/Canberra and Melbourne is likely a choke point for charging.
The charging story in Australia is much more than the Tesla Supercharging network. Australians now have Chargefox, Evie Networks, Jolt and more recently Ampol who are coming on strong. These third-party charging networks are largely funded by Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
While there were EV owners that experienced longer than desirable wait times, these were fairly rare, but if we don’t keep rolling out fast chargers, these would become more frequent and have the potential to be a major issue for EV uptake. If potential owners lose faith in their ability to travel efficiently, they’ll continue to look for ICE vehicles over EVs until this issue is sorted.
Thankfully work is being done and investment is being made to help improve charging. When it comes to my state, Victoria, we have a ‘Destination Charging Across Victoria program’ that includes planned installations of 141 EV fast-charging stations located within 116 high-use areas and tourist spots across regional and metropolitan Victoria.
Personally, my family took our Model Y for a trip from Wodonga to Echuca, then on to Geelong. We had a really great charging experience, but it did take a minute to think about charging.
Before setting off on our trip, we had a charge level of around 80%, and want to drive a decent distance, we wanted to be at 100%, so considered the local Tesla Superchargers. We could see in the car that there were 5 other Teslas charging in Wodonga, which would mean charging levels were restricted to 80%, so instead, we headed out the road to Barnawartha to use Chargefox’s 350kW chargers.
After a couple of days in Echuca/Moama, we charged at the local Evie charger. At this site, there are only 2x 50kW chargers and while we were able to easily access this, in time to come, there’ll definitely need to be more than 2 chargers in towns of this size. While our car did around 40 minutes of charging, we took a short walk to Mcdonald’s for breakfast and a quick coffee later, we were on our way.
We drove to Geelong without issue and credit to my wife, she booked accommodation with Tesla destination chargers. It was fantastic to have a reserved parking spot with a charger, as this allowed us to take day drives and come home to charge, without needing to find a fast charger. There is a Geelong Supercharger nearby, but having a charger at our hotel, meant we never had to visit it, not even once.
When it was time to head home, we charged up to 100%, then set off down the Hume Fwy. There are now multiple charging locations along the Hume, but we stopped at the Euroa Supercharger. When we arrived, there were 4 other Teslas charging at the 6-bay Supercharger. We connected our Model Y, grabbed a bathroom break and a coffee, and were on our way again in around 20 minutes.
We made it home after having traveled close to 1,000 km and never had to queue for a charger.
…. to be continued
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