Public Charging In Australia Is Not Like Filling Up With Petrol

Story from Sam Moran, as shared with David Waterworth

The other day I pulled up in our mighty Tesla Model 3 to use the QESH (Queensland Electric Super Highway) charger at Helensvale Train Station in Queensland. It was pouring down rain and, of course, the charger had no cover — which wasn’t a major issue. I hopped out and performed a short L-shaped sprint, started charging, then jumped back in the car to wait for a break in the rain. When the rain eased, I walked a few hundred meters and crossed the road to the Westfield shopping center to grab some groceries. After a coffee and a phone call with a friend, I was ready to head back to an almost fully charged vehicle. On my way back, under the light drizzle, the moisture prompted me to ponder the contrast between the experience of refueling a petrol-powered vehicle and charging an EV at a DC fast charger.

Some of the differences between the two scenarios are unavoidable due to the nature of the almost polar opposite technologies. Though, I can’t help thinking that, in comparison, there’s some short-changing of the design of many DC fast charging stations. Few petrol-vehicle owners would ever have to exit their vehicle in the rain due to the convenience of most petrol stations having suitable cover, for example.

At a fossil fuel station, it’s not uncommon to have over 60 pumps available to suit the different types of fuel and not make people wait. If a pump is out of order, the pump in the next bay is likely available for use. With many DC charging stations, there is only one DC fast charger — if we’re unlucky enough to find it out of order, that’s it! It is not unusual for a charger to be out of order for weeks at a time due to poor maintenance, the lack of a maintenance contract, supply chain issues for replacement parts, or a combination of some of these factors — all of which have been well documented, and we reported on some of them recently.

When it comes to public AC/destination chargers, often times these are installed behind secured areas, or in inconvenient locations, and while they can be convenient for some people, they often are not.

I think most EV-adopting trailblazers would agree — charging our EVs at home via an AC charging station in our garage or our apartment car park (parking lot) is the most ideal scenario. But for those who don’t have that option, or need a top-up during the day’s journey, we’re clearly best served to ensure we have our proverbial ducks in a row: Plan for charging requirements well ahead of time. Identify a suitable public charger in service, not in use, at the preferable kW rating, price, and in a reasonable walking distance of the nearest shopping center or other preferred venue to make the best use of time.

That’s quite a list of boxes to tick, for the foreseeable short-term future at least, until we reach a point when we see widespread proliferation of well-thought-out EV charging solutions. When we consider the State Of Electric Vehicles report released this week by the EV Council, that day is not too far away. The report states: “Based on the announced funding from state and federal government programs, Australia will see the deployment of 700 fast charging locations over the next 5 years. These locations will typically serve multiple vehicles at the same time.” We’ll see how well they are implemented and report back.

Helensvale QESH charger — not raining today.

Sam Moran is the country manager for Noodoe in Australia & New Zealand, with a passion for cool technology that solves problems. He sees a greater implementation of EV charging infrastructure as key to accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles, and strives to achieve this with his work at Noodoe and within the industry. He thoroughly enjoys driving his Tesla Model 3 Performance and believes that red is indeed the fastest colour.


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