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Clean Transport What?  You try finding an electric car to photograph at 4:00 am on a Saturday morning in Australia and see how lucky you are.

Published on February 25th, 2013 | by Ronald Brakels

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Electric Vehicle Charging Through Online Social Networking



What?  You try finding an electric car to photograph at 4:00 am on a Saturday morning in Australia and see how lucky you are.

“What? You try finding an electric car to photograph at 4:00 am on a Saturday morning in Australia and see how lucky you are.”

I recently read about how New York is installing thousands of electric vehicle charging stations. Hopefully this will encourage the use of electric cars, as I think they’re an excellent way for the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And of course they can also be used to reduce emissions here in Australia, with the possible exception of Melbourne, on account of how its coal power truly blows. (It blows carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in vast quantities.)

Unfortunately, I cannot buy an all electric vehicle at this time. And I mean that quite literally. There are none available for normal purchase in Australia. While it is technically possible for an Australian to get their hands on a Nissan Leaf, last time I checked the price was twice as high as in the US. Also, they’re not adapted to Australian conditions, which means they can’t actually be plugged into an Australian power socket. This is rather a large drawback, especially given the lack of dedicated electric vehicle charging stations here.

But I’m sure all this will change. Once Europeans start buying more electric cars, it will result in them becoming available in Australia also, as we have compatible electrical standards. Waiting for Europeans to drive down prices worked for solar power and it can work for electric cars, too. Go, Europe, go! Buy those electric cars and give us Australians a free ride!

"No, this can't be rght."

“No, this can’t be right.”

Europe and Australia have a big advantage over the the US and Japan when it comes to electric cars. This is because our heftier electrical standards mean that a normal everyday power socket can charge an electric car twice as fast as in Japmerica. This means we won’t need special charging points installed in our garages. An everyday Australian power point can charge pretty much any electric car overnight, unless it’s a Tesla sports car, and if you can afford one of them, I think you can probably afford to install a special charger.

And while we don’t have many dedicated electric vehicle charging stations at the moment, this shouldn’t be a barrier to the adoption of electric vehicles on account of how a national electric vehicle charging system is already installed and operating. It is located throughout Australia and consists of letting anyone who is caught short charge their car at my place. And not just my place, but other people’s places too. Australians are, for the most part, a friendly bunch, and there are plenty of us who wouldn’t mind letting a stranger use a power point for a while if they needed to. In fact, I might even go as far as to say there probably wouldn’t be a populated area in Australia where you couldn’t find someone willing to bend over backwards to let you plug into their socket if you needed a charge. It’s just that kind of place.

Now, admittedly, Australians aren’t quite as friendly as we like to think we are. In my opinion, our educational system has resulted in a little too much British stiffness being forced onto many of us. In fact, by my calculations, with certain important exceptions, the English-speaking world reached peak friendliness in New Zealand in the 1960s. Australia doesn’t do nearly as well in comparison, but at least we beat South Africa. Like we do at cricket. The important thing is, we like to think we’re friendly. And so I’m sure many people would be willing to sign up for a scheme to help out electric vehicle drivers in need, even if a certain portion of us are only doing it to keep up national appearances.

Personally, I know I am motivated to help others both because of my own kind and generous nature, and because of my strong desire to beat the living tar out of New Zealanders on measures of national kindness and friendliness.

All we really need in order to get our national, friendly, electric vehicle charging service under way is a website. And I’ll leave that up to somebody who understands online social networking (which is not my area of expertise). I have to admit, I really don’t understand facebook. I don’t get it at all. It’s supposed to be worth about $100 billion, but I checked it out and there were only about eight people on it. And by some weird chance, I happened to know all of them.

What we do need is a site where we can enter our location, the times we’re likely to be available, whether or not we feel the need to be paid for electricity, and so on. We also need a box we can tick if we’re not into making small talk. I don’t do conversation. You see, I used to have a job where I was paid $20 an hour just to talk to people. Ever since then, whenever I talk to someone and don’t get money at the end, I feel let down. (I have to admit, this has made dating rather awkward.) I know that $20 Australian sounds like a lot of money, as it is currently about a bajillion US dollars (1 bajillion = 20.8) but back then it was only about $2.50 US and could only buy like one sheep.

And of course we need to be able to give feedback on the people who use the system to charge their cars. This way we can weed out the few bad eggs who might try to exploit the system to get their cars charged for free instead of just using it for emergencies, or who use it to try to meet women, men, or sheep. And to also weed out that optimistic individual who might use it to try to meet a transwomanmansheep.

Everything I write is true.

Everything I write is true.

Oh dear, I’ve just realized something. Throughout this whole article I’ve been going on about how eager I am to use my sockets to help people in need, and I’ve just remembered there’s no power point in my garage. And worse, I don’t even have an extension cord. Well, there is one in the kitchen, but it’s nailed to the wall. (And I have to say, I am quite wary of touching those nails.) I guess the website would need to let us enter special conditions, such as, “I’m willing to give you a charge, but you’ll need a long extension.”

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About the Author

is dying here! Today, which is the 14th of January, it was 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) here in Adelaide and tomorrow it's predicted to be 46 degrees Celsius (115 Fahrenheit). I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, lay off the greenhouse gases!



  • Cisco services

    soon there is going to be lots of electric charging stations for car in US…thats good :)

    http://www.bangaloredatacom.com/

  • Michael

    Dude, the Tesla Roadster was the first highway capable EV in the world – and I plugs into a std household socket, industrial socket, public charging infrastructure and their own units – just need to get some of your info a little more correct. Their Model S will plug into any available socket

    • Ronald Brakels

      I must be a really awful writer: The Tesla Roadster has a very large battery and so a standard European or Australian power point simply does not put out enough energy to fully charge it overnight. In the US a complete recharge from no charge at all (in normal operation there would always be some charge in the battery, but just saying it was completely flat) would apparently take about 48 hours from a standard power socket. Even taking full advantage of our heftier current, a standard Australian or European power socket cannot fully charge a Tesla Roadster overnight. It’s a how much energy can be gotten out of a socket thing, not a plug thing.

  • http://jpwhitehome.wordpress.com JP White

    You say this about the Nissan LEAF

    “they can’t actually be plugged into an Australian power socket. This is rather a large drawback, especially given the lack of dedicated electric vehicle charging stations here.”

    What nonsense. Everywhere the Nissan LEAF is sold, it comes with a portable charging unit adapted to the local market. You can plug the LEAF into any standard electrical outlet.

    The picture of a plug not fitting a vehicle is not one of the LEAF.

    But then you go onto say

    “This means we won’t need special charging points installed in our garages” which indicates you do understand the technology quite well after all.

    When I read “Everything I write is true” on your website it makes me wonder if you enjoy telling porky pies. Just for the hell of it.

    • Ronald Brakels

      In Japan or the US the Leaf can be plugged charged directly from normal power socket. In Australia it can’t be charged from a normal socket without using a transformer. That’s what I mean by it’s not adapted to Australian conditions. If it had been adapted for our electrical standards, it wouldn’t need a transformer, would it?

      And the reason the plug doesn’t fit the vehicle in the picture is because that is the fuel intake for a gasoline powered vehicle. It’s what we in Australia like to call a joke. And it’s a joke that’s not related to the Nissan Leaf.

      • http://jpwhitehome.wordpress.com JP White

        When you say a transformer, do you mean this?

        https://www.dropbox.com/s/i28r2fy5doxbvfu/DSC_0301.JPG

        If so that’s what comes with every LEAF in the US. You don’t just plug into a 120v or 240v outlet with an extension cord.

        • Ronald Brakels

          This article has information on charging the Nissan Leaf in Australia:

          http://www.caradvice.com.au/177447/nissan-leaf-pricing-specifications-and-how-it-works/

          As you can see, it can’t be charged with current from a normal Australian power point. It can be charged using a transformer, but that increases the charge time to Japanese or US levels.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Just in case someone reading this gets the wrong idea, I will point out that there is nothing wrong with the Nissan Leaf. It is just that it is a Japanese car and so quite sensibly designed for Japanese/US current. At the moment they do not produce a version of the Leaf that is optimised for European or Australian current and the faster charging times that it allows from a normal power socket. But I suspect it won’t be too long before such a model is available. It would be Nissan’s version of the Opel Ampera – the European Volt.

          • http://jpwhitehome.wordpress.com JP White

            You mat call ta transformer. The article you quote does not. It describes as follows.

            “The Leaf also comes with a ‘Level 1’ portable cable in the boot for charging when away from home. It can’t be plugged into a standard household socket,”

            A transformer changes voltage up or down. This portable unit AKA an EVSE, passes the current straight through. The portable cord simply has a J1772 plug on it to make it compatible with the car, and some electronics to negotiate the charge with the vehicle.

            My point is that as an owner of a LEAF I am very familiar with how it works, and in your article it states they can’t actually be plugged into an Australian power socket. This is a fallacious statement.

          • Ronald Brakels

            I appologise completely and unreservedly for giving the impression that a Leaf can’t be charged from a normal Australian power point. It can be charged from a normal Australian power point, using a transformer.

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