At a time when big business is accused of greenwashing, a Sydney-based company is planning on turning a network of car wash sites into the country’s second-largest electric vehicle charging network.

A start-up that plans to convert a network of car wash outlets into a national electric vehicle charging station business says it can undercut Tesla’s EV charging rate by about 80 per cent.

Bell Resources, which has no relationship to the company stripped of all its cash by Alan Bond in the 1990s, says it can sell energy to EV owners at a cost price of 10¢ a kilowatt because of the combination of rooftop solar, car wash revenues and the draw down of off-peak battery stored energy.

Chief executive Mark Avery says this charging price compares well with the rate charged at Tesla charging stations of 52¢/kW.

Avery says Bell Resources has acquired 63 car wash businesses (and seven freehold car wash properties and three greenfields sites) across Victoria, ACT, NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia under option deeds.

It plans to install ultra-fast direct current (DC) charging stations made by Swedish company ABB at its car wash sites and rebrand them as the “Bell Hub” brand.

A 350kW DC fast charger can add about 30 kilometres on range to an EV in one minute.

The Bell Resources move is significant because it involves building resilient infrastructure that will help remove the “range anxiety” that many believe is holding back the uptake of EVs in Australia.

A report prepared for Bell Resources by consultancy Frost & Sullivan says there are now five charging networks in Australia: Chargefox, which has about 500 public chargers in operation, including 20 ultra-rapid charging stations; the City of Adelaide, which has 40 chargers; NRMA, which has 39 chargers; Tesla, which has 36; and the RAC Western Australia, which has 11 chargers.

Chargefox’s ultra-rapid stations have up to four 350kW ultra-rapid and two 50kW fast chargers each. The company manages the Queensland Electric Super Highway, a network of 31 fast charging sites in the state.

Emerging competitors include Evie Networks, which is building a charging network comprised of 80 ultra-fast charging stations at 42 locations to connect the main Australian cities.

Frost & Sullivan says it will be using California-based EV Connect’s cloud-based software platform to manage its network.

Chinese fast-charging start-up XCharge is looking to set up a network with at least 1000 DC fast chargers in Australia and is collaborating with Southern Sustainable Electric Australia, according to Frost & Sullivan.

Avery says car wash sites are ideal for EV charging because they are built for high volume vehicle movement, have no site contamination issues and are exempt from having to obtain EV development approval in most states.

More importantly, car wash sites do not face the combustion safeguard rules that affect petrol stations. Under Australian standards, an EV charging station must be at least 12 metres from a fuel bowser or fuel vent pipe.

Avery is not concerned about the federal government’s lack of strong support for EVs because state governments are taking the lead.

He says public charging stations will be integral to EV adoption in Australia given about 14 per cent of dwellings are apartments, units or townhouses and about a third of Australians live in rental accommodation.

Another factor in favour of EV adoption is that 2.3 million trading businesses will look to expense the cost of running an EV.

A presentation for potential investors in Bell Resources says the company would have made a net profit before tax of $9.79 million in the year to June 2020. It forecasts revenue will rise from $37 million in 2020 to $100 million in 2023.

The document says gross profit from charging EVs would be 70 to 80 per cent, and gross profit from car washes 30 to 35 per cent.

Extracted in full from: Start-up to build EV charging network (