As Australia’s uptake of electric vehicles accelerates, there are concerns that charging infrastructure may not be adequate.

Service station owners are calling on the Federal Government to help them install EV charging bays on their forecourts.

Australian Association of Convenience Stores chief executive Theo Foukkare said it cost an estimated half a million dollars to upgrade a site’s electricity grid to accommodate EV chargers.

“We’ve got thousands of AACS members across the nation that want to go green but they’re not able to get their hands on half a million dollars on their own,” he said.

He said his members were supportive of the government’s new EV strategy, released this week.

“However, we really think a government funded program that helps small business owners to pay for these critical upgrades is essential to achieve that,” he said.

The recent surge in EV take-up – sales are up 150 per cent in the first three months of this year – meant there weren’t enough recharge stations to cope with existing drivers.

“Public infrastructure charging is being rolled out slowly by the federal and state and territory governments, however, most only include slow charging equipment. That means they can only be used by two cars at once, potentially leaving other drivers waiting hours before they are even able to plug in,” Mr Foukkare said.

A spokeswoman for Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said small businesses could apply for a grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency ARENA, which had $70 million set aside to help businesses develop charging infrastructure.

Mr Bowen announced the latest round of grants yesterday and said infrastructure funding was a “critical step to make electric vehicles more accessible for all Australians”.

He said the latest funding round would make it easier to install the right type of public charging infrastructure and give Australians better access to facilities, particularly in remote and regional communities.

“Transport costs are a huge part of household budgets, and getting the charging infrastructure in place for electric vehicles is critical to ensuring households have a real choice when it comes to picking their next car,” Mr Bowen said.

But Mr Foukkare said that slower charging stations being rolled out by governments often lacked access to basic amenities.

“Australian motorists expect amenities like toilets, a place to sit and eat or enjoy a coffee, free Wi-Fi and even somewhere to do a small grocery top up,” he said.

“Our members already have those facilities – and they employ more than 70,000 people across Australia – so they could certainly do with the extra custom.

He said service station EV chargers could also address a “charging void” for the 25 per cent of Australian drivers who don’t have off street parking.

Extracted in full from: Australian service station owners call for EV support with charging bays | Herald Sun