Australia is now experiencing the same problem that faced the US just a few years ago — queues at fast chargers. Some electric vehicle owners are having to wait and queue to charge during peak holiday periods. What a wonderful problem to have.
Each morning I check my news feed and have noticed that although the headlines on articles that report about EVs are still negative, the articles are becoming less so, and sometimes even have a positive twist. That is true of this one from Perth Now.
A significant number of EVs are now travelling during holiday periods — Aussies love their road trips just like their American cousins. At Christmas (in summer in Australia), EV drivers set out to explore the great south land, visit the rellies, and have a BBQ. Waiting for fast chargers has now been identified as a source of stress, up there with “Are we there yet?” and “I thought I told you go before we left.”
At some Tesla Superchargers, people had to wait 90 minutes for a “squirt” of the good stuff. That is a bit long. Hopefully they had a chance to swap stories with other drivers and make some new friendships. Most of these situations occurred on the highways between the capital cities — EV drivers are cluey enough to fill up at home before setting out in the “never never.”
There is a silver lining, however, as industry players say the experience might ultimately benefit the industry and future electric car owners. “It provided the first ‘real-world data’ into charging hotspots and the upgrades needed to ensure Australia’s electric transport future” — a future of widespread adoption that is just over the horizon (on RORO ships).
“Evie Networks chief executive Chris Mills is one of those who is upbeat about the thoroughly modern traffic jam. His company, which aims to build Australia’s largest fast-charging electric vehicle network, broke records in December.
“This year was the first year where there were enough electric cars on the road for anyone to have experienced congestion,” he said.
“Don’t get me wrong — I am not minimising the frustration people felt — but this will be the first year where we have enough data so that we can plan for this next year.”
At the end of December, with December 29th being the peak, Evie Networks saw the 4 highest-utilization days in its history. They noted that one charging station that normally didn’t get a lot of use was swamped, helping the company to understand where some upgrades were needed (for holiday weekends) that didn’t seem to be vulnerable points in the network previously. Holiday driving provides a different challenge from normal, regular commutes. Tesla Owners Club of Australia President Peter Thorne noted: “many car-charging sites had been under-used so far, as drivers charged their vehicles at home or at holiday destinations. Many drivers now wanted to take their cars further.”
Also, really, EV sales have jumped quickly in the past year, and this is showing at chargers now. “More than 33,000 electric vehicles were sold in Australia in 2022, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, almost double the number sold in 2021,” Perth Now reported.
Not mentioned in the article was the Western Australia electric superhighway, currently under construction. The government provided funding for electric chargers in Victoria and South Australia to help address the issues noted above.
The number of networks installing fast chargers for public use is increasing rapidly. It is obvious from this article that this transformation is hard to keep up with. The chicken-and-egg conundrum is going to be resolved as more EVs hit the roads and more EV chargers are installed — equilibrium may be a long way off, but it will come.
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