For regional motorists in South Australia, options are few and far between when it comes to the rapid charging of electric vehicles (EVs).
- Initial SA EV charging network will have gaps no longer than 200kms
- 100 of 140 sites have been assessed so far by the RAA
- Construction aims to be completed by the end of 2023
For some people, like Katherine Tuft from Roxby Downs, the EV infrastructure turned what would be a seven-hour hour drive to Adelaide into 10 hours.
“It’s quite doable but it’s not the most efficient way to get around as far out as we are, but that’s nothing to do with the car and all to do with the inadequacy of the charging network,” she said.
EVs can be charged from just about any power outlet, but Ms Tuft said it wasn’t about the number of charge points but the speed capability of the chargers.
“We’ll get to Port Augusta on about 30 per cent battery after having left at 100 per cent,” she said.
“There’s nowhere fast to charge, which is why we’ll sit on them for an hour or so and get another 10 or 15 per cent and that’s enough to get us to Clare, where there is a fast charger.
“We can then zip up to 80 per cent within half an hour and get to Adelaide.”
Janie Butterworth has had a rapid charging station outside her Port Lincoln business for five years.
As a destination point on the tip of the Eyre Peninsula, she has observed another issue of a patchy regional charging network.
“Hardly anybody uses it, people probably don’t come out this far if they’ve got an electric vehicle because it’s logistically impossible,” Ms Butterworth said.
“If you’re going to drive it somewhere that’s too far from your house, you’re going to get stuck charging it somewhere for a long time.”
Regional network update
To address range anxiety and charge time delays, in February a $12.4 million state government grant was awarded to the Royal Automobile Association (RAA) to construct a 140-site fast and rapid charging network across South Australia.
Project director Andrew Howard said 100 of those sites had been assessed for charging capabilities.
“The final list of site hosts will be available towards the end of this year and we’ll be well and truly into the construction phase early next year when all the details will be complete,” Mr Howard said.
“We’ll have a maximum distance between sites of 200 kilometres. In many cases, it’ll be far less and that will be well within range of a full charge for most EVs.”
Mr Howard said the network would serve as a basis for further charging points to be installed to close gaps between destinations.
“The network is really about solving range anxiety for South Australians,” he said.
“We know that up to 80 per cent of people are considering EVs as their next vehicle purchase.”
“This is about breaking that catch 22 scenario where people won’t buy EVs until there’s a network and there won’t be a network until there’s enough EVs.
“This network and the regional focus is all about creating that initial coverage and, of course, EV charging will grow as the fleet does.”
Regional councils plugging in
Copper Coast Council chief executive Russell Peate said charging sites at Wallaroo and Kadina could be linked to the network after RAA assessment.
“They will do a physical inspection with us shortly,” Mr Peate said.
“After that, it’ll be about agreeing about the actual site, the logistics, and having a host agreement in place.
“Once that’s done, I suspect it’ll only be two months before it’s installed.”
Until the first charging sites come online, prospective EV owners like Janie Butterworth will not be considering electric road trips.
“Personally, I would like an electric car but, living where I live, I would have it plugged in and charging at my house and just drive it around town,” she said.
Extracted in full form: South Australians inch closer to the EV road trip as charging network improves – ABC News