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Dingo Caravan Park
Picnic and a top-up at Dingo Caravan Park. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

Clean Transport

Caravan Parks — EV Oases?

Caravan park owners and managers are being told to prepare for a big influx of electric vehicles, especially when big SUVs arrive that can pull a van.

The concern is that the cost of installing infrastructure and the supply of electricity might be too big a burden for some parks to bear.

On our trips through the Queensland outback, to Winton and to Biggenden, we experienced both the generosity of caravan parks that graciously allowed us to use vacant powered sites to do top-up charges and those who lied to us to prevent us from charging even though we were booked in for the night.

I would hope that caravan parks would see EVs as a revenue stream, rather than a threat to their bottom line. Why not install solar, and then in the middle of the day offer excess power and unused powered sites to EV travelers at a reasonable cost? If a Ford F-150 Lightning arrives pulling a van, charge them extra for the charge. Mind you, I think it will be a few years before we see that. In the meantime, it might be a Haval instead.

Many Australian state governments are co-funding fast chargers at tourist destinations and along highways. Caravan parks, with 15 amp power points on their powered sites, could help fill the gaps. Some car manufacturers are also giving away destination chargers. MG is a good example of this.

Mark Borlace of the Royal Automobile Association South Australia (RAA) said the RAA hoped to work with the industry to ensure caravan park operators were aware of the potential costs. “What we’re saying is we’ve got to think it through and work with the industry to ensure operators don’t go broke trying to spend too much money on infrastructure,” he said.

“We know that EV owners base their road trip holidays on where they can charge their vehicles and being able to provide that infrastructure, not only along the way, but when they get to their destination, is a massive thing for regional tourism,” Caravan Industry Association of Australia general manager Luke Chippindale adds.

Hillview Caravan Park owner Allan Withers told the ABC: “We’re starting to all talk about it now, and we’re starting to see a few more of the vehicles coming through … as time goes on, we’ll be seeing a lot more.” He said customers were free to trickle charge their vehicles overnight.

“We pay anything from 26 cents a kilowatt[-hour] to 46 cents in peak times. When you multiply that out, it’s around $12 every night per car,” he said.

“If you multiply it by a dozen cars or more, it quickly adds up … so it’s definitely something we need to look at for sure.”

Caravan Parks don’t need to put in DC fast chargers. Solar power and smart chargers would definitely help. They need to assess what they already have, how it can be used and what they expect EV drivers to pay for it.

 
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Written By

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

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