There are a lot of things to dislike about service stations: petrol pump nozzles you need to insert and withdraw a dozen times before they work, water to wash your windscreen with that looks like it’s been retrieved from a toilet and rest rooms that more often than not look like crime scenes. And smell worse.
You can at least kiss one of those things goodbye once electric vehicles (EVs) become the norm – which over time they surely will – and the fossil fuels for your car become extinct, making way for a network of EV charging stations.
But what exactly is an electric car charging station? And are there electric car charging stations in Australia?
Different types of electric car recharge station
When it comes to categorising EV chargers, there are three different levels.
The bog standard wall socket you plug your toaster and mobile phone charger into that delivers AC electricity? That’s a Level 1 charger.
A cable usually supplied with the EV plugs in to the 10-15 amp, single phase power point, delivering around 10-20km of range per hour that you’re plugged in. Not recommended if you want to fully charge your EV in a hurry.
A public AC chargepoint at a shopping centre or car park and a standard domestic AC “wall box” charger (which can be powered by renewable energy, like solar) you’d have at home are both Level 2, and these dedicated EV chargers are capable of charging at a rate of up to 7kW (10-15 amp, single phase).
Expect to gain around 40km of range per hour plugged in, which will most likely be enough to top up your average daily use, and capable of fully charging your EV overnight.
Commonly called “fast chargers” or “superchargers”, these are dedicated DC chargers that operate at power levels from 25kW to 350kW (40–500 amp, three phase).
As you’d guess, DC chargers deliver electricity a whole lot faster than AC chargers, and they are typically found in commercial premises, car parks and road-side locations.
Once plugged in, the lower end of this method will add about 150km of range per hour plugged in; the upper end can give you a full recharge in as little as 10 to 15 minutes.
Tesla has its own network of DC Superchargers in Australia – there are close to 40 spread around the country, with more on the way – but be warned: despite being the world’s fastest chargers, they’ll only work with Teslas and no other EV models. Does that seem a little unreasonable? It’s not for us to say…
Electric car charging stations in Australia
How many electric car charging stations are there in Australia? At this stage, there’s not a whole lot spread across the map: approximately 2500, which is a drop in the ocean when you consider that China has 800,000-plus public EV chargers, having rolled out a whopping 4000 a day in December 2020 alone.
There are several EV charging infrastructure providers operating within Australia, including Chargefox (currently our biggest network), Jet Charge, Tritium, EVSE, Schneider Electric, Keba, EVERTY, NHP Electrical Engineering and eGo Dock.
In terms of where are the chargers within Australia, here’s a brief breakdown based on statistics gathered in October 2020.
153 DC chargers and 630 AC chargers for a combined total of 783 charging points (as you’d expect, the majority of these are in and around Sydney). There are approximately 4627 EVs in NSW, meaning there are only 0.17 charging stations per EV.
86 DC chargers and 450 AC chargers for a combined total of 536 charging points. According to EV charging network provider Chargefox, an EV charging station located in the inner Melbourne suburb of Brunswick is the country’s busiest, with 725 charging sessions alone for the month of March, 2021.
Has 59 DC chargers and 336 AC chargers for a combined total of 395 charging points. Queensland also has what they call an “electric super highway” consisting of 31 fast-charging sites, allowing Queenslanders and tourists to confidently travel from Coolangatta to Port Douglas, and from Brisbane to Toowoomba in EVs.
Has 25 DC chargers and 202 AC chargers for a combined total of 227 charging points. In April 2021, motoring organisation RAC Western Australia opened Perth’s first ultra-rapid charging station at its head office in West Perth, with chargers available offering 400km of range in less than 15 minutes.
19 DC chargers and 216 AC chargers for a combined total of 235 charging points.
Zero DC chargers and 13 AC chargers for a combined total of 13 charging points. No, that’s not a lot.
11 DC chargers and 39 AC chargers for a combined total of 50 charging points.
4 DC chargers and 64 AC chargers for a combined total of 68 charging points.
The future of EV charging stations in Australia
The adoption of EVs in Australia has been slow, hence a relatively low number of public EV charging stations, but the situation is improving.
There’s been an increase in federal and state governments investing in public chargers, and private companies have been building networks along highways.
Local councils are also increasingly installing chargers in public areas as demand for EV chargers from local communities increases.