Brent Johnston is one of a growing number of Australians looking to purchase an electric car and coming up against the same problem.

“We have nowhere to charge it,” he said.

He lives in Melbourne’s inner north in a house with no garage or off-street parking.

“You can’t run a charging cable from your house out to the walkway or you’ll end up tripping people, or people will start charging off your charging station for free,” he said.

So he’s renovating and creating rear-access to his home to allow an electric vehicle charger to be installed.

“We are going to demolish the whole back fence and outbuilding and rebuild the whole back wall,” he said.

It’s an expensive solution to a growing problem.

While there are some shared public charging options nearby, plus the promise of more charging infrastructure in the most recent federal budget, some prospective electric vehicle (EV) owners like Mr Johnston want the option of charging in their own homes.

He said relying on public infrastructure would only work when the number of EV drivers was relatively small.

“But imagine when it’s 50 per cent,” he said.

‘We thought about moving house’

On the other side of Melbourne, Kevin and Karen wanted an EV but were coming up against the same problem.

“We thought about moving house, but we really didn’t want to have to do that just to get an electric vehicle,” Kevin said.

Luckily, they’ve been offered an alternate solution.

Port Phillip Council has kicked off a trial in partnership with Melbourne company Kerb Charge, which has invented a personal EV charger that can be installed on the footpath.

Kevin and Karen are the first owners of a Kerb Charge unit in Australia and spoke to the ABC at the launch of the council’s trial.

Their home’s power is sunk under the footpath and connected to the flood-proof, stainless steel unit that sits flat with the surface of the footpath when not in use.

Inventor of the unit and CEO of Melbourne-based company Kerb Charge, Rod Walker, described the unit as an “elaborate extension cord”.

At Kevin and Karen’s place in Albert Park, the charger has been installed next to the on-street park out the front of their house on council land.

They are not guaranteed to get that exact park, but the couple reckon they get it often enough that they will be able to regularly charge their new Tesla once it arrives next month.

City of Port Phillip Mayor Marcus Pearl said the council had made every effort to manage the red tape of installing the EV charger on public land, which he said was mainly a council responsibility.

“It’s all about council and government moving out of the way to ensure that we can install infrastructure that our residents are demanding at the moment, which is a good thing,” he said.

The unit is not public infrastructure. It — and the power — is paid for by the residents and intended to be used by those who bought it.

The cost is around $6,000 including installation, $124 for the permit from the council to install it, plus an ongoing annual fee of $100.

It is locked with a key and has an alarm if someone tries to interfere with it while a car is charging —  a deterrent Karen refers to as a “scream”.

The City of Port Phillip estimates it will install 10 chargers as part of the trial.

Australian electric vehicle ownership jumps by 26,000 cars in nine months

EV ownership is rising rapidly across the country, with now more than 70,000 electric vehicles in Australia, according to the Electric Vehicle Council.

More than 26,000 of them were sold between January and September this year.

In Victoria, the Department of Transport reports the number of registered EVs has more than doubled in the last 15 months, from about 7,000 in July 2021 to nearly 15,400 at the end of October 2022.

The Electric Vehicle Council said while any extra charging infrastructure was a good thing, the early focus should be a collaborative government approach to build more public charging stations.

“That would be the most efficient approach,” said Jake Whitehead, head of policy at the Electric Vehicle Council.

It would also mean better access for charging for people who are renting or live in apartments, where retrofitting personal EV chargers can be time-consuming, costly or in some cases impossible.

“We want to ensure that every Australian household and business can get access to an electric vehicle and importantly … including people who rent and that don’t necessarily want to invest in a charger in their home,” Dr Whitehead said.

The Kerb Charger trial is a bit late for Mr Johnston, who has already spent more than a year planning the renovation of his home and plans to start construction at the end of this year.

But he still thinks the renovation was the best solution for him and he will eventually recoup some savings on petrol costs once he starts driving an EV.

He was also hopeful that by the time his renovation was completed electric vehicles would become more affordable.

A spokesperson for Mr Johnston’s local council, City of Yarra, said it was closely following the Port Phillip kerbside EV charger trial “to determine the best way to further support our community’s take-up of electric vehicles”.

Extracted in full from: Want an electric car but can’t charge it? A private kerb-side trial could be the solution – ABC News

SHARE THIS ARTICLE: