With more than 10 per cent of new cars sold in the ACT now running on electricity, popular coastal getaway towns are struggling with the infrastructure needed to keep the tourism trade fully charged.

EV-driving tourists visiting the New South Wales South Coast are already increasing, raising concerns a lack of charging stations may force them to go elsewhere.

In summer, some EV drivers reported waiting an hour or more to use one of three public fast chargers in Batemans Bay, and further south the only public fast charger in the Bega Shire was under maintenance for weeks at a time.

Katherine Maxwell from the South Coast Health and Sustainability Alliance is one of a growing number of people worried tourists will start looking elsewhere for a holiday.

“We had queues lining up four or five deep over summer,” Ms Maxwell said.

“Imagine showing up in a petrol car and you had to wait an hour and a half to fill up your car. You just wouldn’t do it.”

Canberrans lead EV charge

The South Coast is heavily dependent on tourism, with an estimated 40 per cent of money spent in the Eurobodalla Shire coming from visitors — the vast majority of them Canberrans.

The ACT has the highest uptake of EVs in the country and is forecast to have up to 42,000 of them by 2030.

Already, 10 per cent of all new cars sold in the ACT are electric.

In New South Wales, that number is sitting around 4 per cent and rapidly rising.

Volvo won’t sell petrol cars in Australia by 2026. Will Toyota and Ford follow?(Emilia Terzon)

On the South Coast, the Eurobodalla Shire Council has released a draft strategy for EV infrastructure that includes doubling the amount of public fast chargers by 2027.

Even with those plans in place, figures from the NRMA show the rate at which new public chargers are being built is not keeping up with the number of new EVs on the road.

Adding value with fast chargers

It is a gap that has created an opportunity for business owners like publican Matt Irving in Moruya.

About four months ago he installed two electric vehicle chargers at the back of his hotel with assistance from a federal government rebate scheme and said he was already noticing a difference in patronage.

A man looks at the camera while standing next to electric vehicle chargers at his pub.
Publican Matt Irving has installed two EV chargers at his South Coast pub.()

“We rely so heavily on Sydney and Canberra … because of the uptake of electric vehicles in Canberra, we know we had to be part of that and do something about it,” Mr Irving said.

“It’s really added value to the business. We have people coming in saying they’re using our service.”

The chargers run at almost no cost to the hotel during the day thanks to solar panels.

And even at night, the cost is minimal.

NSW struggles with EV charger demand

“We know that there is going to be a massive uptake of EVs, we know they want to come from Canberra, they want to come from afar,” he said.

“They want to come to the coast and they didn’t have many options.”

Consumers drive change

Peter Campbell lives in Canberra and frequents the South Coast.

In his long-range EV he easily makes the trip on one charge but, for longer trips, the availability of chargers plays a part in deciding where to stop.

“It makes a difference to have destination charging at a pub, cafe, winery, or overnight accommodation,” Mr Campbell said.

“If we’re thinking of staying in accommodation in a town somewhere the shortlist will be which places offer charging overnight.”

A hand puts an EV charger into an EV port.
Consumers say they are more likely to patronise a business if it has an EV charger.()

He said the absence of a public charger in Braidwood, halfway between the coast and Canberra, had a large impact on those with low-range EVs.

Ms Maxwell said the South Coast was currently considered an EV black spot, with most new chargers being built along the Hume Highway, far from the coastal route.

She said the council and state government must prioritise building more fast chargers before it was too late.

“We’ve got to keep up with the momentum,” she said.

“We’re behind at the moment. We need a number of [these chargers] going in every year.”

Extracted in full from: Businesses rush to install electric vehicle charging to keep tourists coming back – ABC News