In outback South Australia, it is not a common sight to see a fast-charging station for an electric vehicle.

However, that is set to change, with the State Government announcing the locations for 530 fast-charging stations spread across the state.

Kath Tuft and Hugh McGregor live just outside Roxby Downs in remote South Australia, and have owned an electric car for a year.

“We’re 450 kilometres away from the nearest fast charger,” Mr McGregor said.

“If we want to make it to Adelaide in a day, we’ve got to do a very long hop in the car.

“Even to get to Clare, where the nearest supercharger is, if the wind is against us, we can’t make it and we’ve got to ask someone along the way, pay them a bit of money to use their charger.”

A man and a woman stand next to a white car with red desert dirt stretching behind them
Kath Tuft and Hugh McGregor from Roxby Downs say is a challenge owning an electric vehicle in the outback.

Key points:

  • The South Australian Government has confirmed the locations for 530 new fast-charging stations across the state
  • The move has been welcomed by industry and regional SA electric vehicle owners
  • The proposed network includes stations in Marla, Leigh Creek, Ceduna, Renmark and Mount Gambier

The couple said it would “open up the travel we do”.

“You can sort of make it anywhere in Australia with an electric car, it’s just a matter of whether you’re happy to wait around for 12 hours for a full charge,” Mr McGregor said.

“But the fast chargers just change everything, they make it normal, like normal driving.”

Ms Tuft said the electric vehicle’s environmental benefits were important to her, despite the charging challenges. 

“For me, it means a lot to be able to drive a car that is carbon neutral, and we’re able to power it off solar as much as we can,” she said. 

“Having been through a nasty drought and so on, it makes a big difference to my thinking.” 

Welcomed by industry

The South Australian branch of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association has also welcomed the announcement.

Chair Sally Knight said establishing the network will reduce the “range anxiety” that can be experienced by EV drivers.

Three car parking spots with charging infrastructure, the highway behind.
The fast-charging station at Keith services travellers passing between Adelaide and Melbourne.

“The only fast charging stations really at the moment are on the road between Adelaide and Melbourne,” she said.

“So once you’re off that [road], then you certainly have to be planning where you’re going to charge or making do with slower charging.”

Ms Knight said fast-charging stations take minutes rather than “hours and hours”.

“It’s like a normal stop to stretch your legs, let the kids have a run around, have a coffee or a cup of tea and off you go.

“If they are placed in tourism-attracting locations, [like] next to the country bakery it’s just ideal for motels and tourist attractions.

RAA Mobility Technology Specialist Mark Borlace said increasing the types of chargers will help make regional travel in electric vehicles easier.

“What’s going to happen is they’re not going to be all the same chargers,” he said.

“You’ll have some of the big, fast 350 kilowatt charges that will be in the same sorts of locations as service stations – where you can have a coffee while you’re waiting for it to charge.”

Electric car with charger in foreground.
he 530 new fast-charging stations will be spread across the state, including many regional locations.

“There’ll be others that charge them a bit faster that might be at wineries, or at hotels where you might spend an hour or two in there.”

“And then there’ll be overnight charging at hotels and motels,” he said.

Mr Borlace said implementing new travel technology can be a slow roll-out.

“It’s very much akin probably to what we were seeing with petrol bowsers 100 years ago, you know, lot of a lot of towns didn’t sell petrol,” he said.

Extracted in full from: More fast-chargers to make using electric vehicles “like normal driving” for outback SA couple – ABC News