Maureen Ball and her business partner Len Bundy own the Beaudesert Tyre Store, situated halfway between Warwick and the Gold Coast on a busy transit route. She is excited about the rEVolution. In our phone interview, she could barely contain her enthusiasm for the change that is overtaking Australian roads. When she started to see electric cars drive through, then appear in her community, she saw a way to both encourage tourism and increase her business. Replacing the tyres on an EV, she thought, “What if the owner hasn’t charged it? Will it be stuck in my workshop?” I, of course, made a rude comment about an EV owner who would travel with such a low charge. She saw high-speed charging as a business opportunity.
Beaudesert is situated about an hour’s drive southwest of Brisbane on the Mt Lindesay Highway. It is one and a half hour’s drive from Warwick and one hour’s drive from the Gold Coast. The town has a population of over 7000 and serves as the administrative centre for the Scenic Rim district — a popular tourist area. Beaudesert is surrounded by farms and internationally owned horse studs. It is well worth the visit for any visitors and now you can be assured that there is charging available.
By establishing the only high-speed charger within an hour’s drive in every direction, Maureen realised that there was a business opportunity to be grasped and started looking at options. Decision making was expedited by David Nyambuya from EV Charging Australia. His team had been cold canvassing local businesses in Beaudesert looking for possible install sites. I met the team at Cleveland two years ago and was impressed with their ability to grasp opportunities.
From their website: “EV Charging Australia was originally founded in 2020 with the goal to provide Australia with its first FAST mobile EV mobile charging service. EV Charging Australia is a business focussed on providing industry leading electric vehicle services and products.
“Our key areas of focus are — Electric Vehicle Asset Finance; Home Chargers; Commercial Chargers; Electric Vehicle Software; Grid Management; Solar and Battery Storage.”
Maureen continued: “We saw a rise in electrical vehicles and changes in the tyres that were coming in for them. Many of the major companies do an EV specific tyre. They have to be quiet; they have to carry the weight. We thought we might need a charger in case we had a car in getting tyres that didn’t have enough charge.” A visitor to the area enquiring about available charging prompted her and her business partner Len Bundy to investigate further.
Although not a “greenie,” Maureen likes to be at the forefront of technological change. “Do you drive an EV?” “Not yet,” she said. But she is fascinated by the BYDs she saw on display at a recent visit to Garden City, Mt Gravatt, a southern suburb of Brisbane. She emphasised that the decision to install the charger was first and foremost a business decision, but also expects that it will help the community. I suggested she put up signs for the local restaurants so people can grab a bite while the car charges.
So far, she has changed the tyres on about 10 electric cars. She has had Hyundai Ioniqs, MG ZS EVs, and lots of Teslas from her local area in her workshop. The sales rep for Continental Tyres recently leased an electric BMW with 5 years of free charging on Chargefox. He travels the district from his home on Tamborine Mountain and has told Maureen that he will be dropping in for a charge frequently. In fact, he said that Beaudesert Tyre Store will be his only charging spot.
It has taken over a year since she spoke with David to get the charger installed and commissioned. Maureen was initially thinking of installing a destination charger, but changed her mind when she realised that a high-speed charger would be better for business and for the town. “What’s the biggest one I can put in, without having to do a lot of paperwork,” she asked.
She currently has a 40kWh charger. As technology improves, she wants to add modules. The charger itself will handle up to 180 kWh. The charging capacity can grow as the community transitions.
Although Maureen primarily sees the charger as an investment in the future of her business, she also sees benefits to her community. She has installed giant LED screens to advertise her products and community events. She is also able to use them for paid advertising. They are a first in Beaudesert. Maureen has also been a leader in the installation of solar panels. Again, it’s a smart business decision, to cover their bright yellow new-build business premises with panels supported by a smart meter. The sixty panels have paid themselves off in short order. Sixty more panels have been added — creating enough power to energise the business, run the charger, and supply power to the grid. “The money we saved paid for our security system.”
The charger was installed by the team from RegenEV led by Arran Blomfield. When Maureen told Arran she had never been in an EV, he took her for a spin in his work Tesla Model 3 SR. “He put his foot down and I almost landed in the back seat.” Maureen is making the time to chat to the drivers who come for a charge and is amazed at the stories they tell.
“I met a customer who came to charge his Tesla. He told me of his road trip with his boys to Western Australia, crossing the Nullarbor Plain, and the ‘charging experiences’ they’d had along the way. Super stories! Since November 2022 he has travelled 52000 fuel free kilometers.”
“I am learning so much.” The charger will be accessible 24/7 for the convenience of travellers in electric vehicles. It can be accessed with a Chargefox card or a credit card and can charge two cars at once.
It is great to see that the penetration of EVs in Australia has increased to the extent that installing a charger can be a smart business decision. With the influx of the affordable trio — ORA, MG4, and BYD Dolphin — it is sure to increase. I wish Maureen well and look forward to popping in for a visit and a charge in the near future.
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