EV charging infrastructure in Australia

tesla EV

Is the lack of EV charging stations in Australia really holding back EV sales? Tim Washington considers the question in light of the US experience.

It’s almost impossible to talk about electric cars without talking about public charging infrastructure—understandable, given the prevalence of petrol stations to make our cars ‘go’. But when it comes to electric vehicles (EVs), is this infrastructure something we really need?

A wide distribution of petrol stations is required because 100% of our petrol car refuelling is done in public. For EVs, the situation is quite different: public EV charging infrastructure is needed to service just 5% to 10% of an EV driver’s fuelling needs.

Indeed, one of the selling points of EVs is the ability to plug in at home and start every day with a ‘full tank’.

On top of that, the average driving distance in Australia is around 40 km a day, well below the standard range of most EVs.

Nevertheless, range anxiety is real— averages are just that, after all, so there will be times people need to travel further than the EV’s range. One way this anxiety can be (partially) resolved is with readily accessible public charging stations.

But do public EV charging stations make business sense? What is the government’s role, if any? A good way to examine these questions is to look at overseas experience.

Dots on a map

“Dots on a map, Tim, that’s what they want— dots on a map.” This is what a major US EV charging station operator said to me when I asked about their car charging operations.

At last count, there were around 9500 ‘dots on a map’—public EV charging stations—in the USA. Compared to around 200 in Australia, that would seem like a lot. But key lessons can’t be learnt based on headline stats alone, so in this article I’ll attempt to look at the experience for charging station operators in the US and what lessons can be learnt from this to help expand charging infrastructure in Australia.

Read the full article in ReNew 131.

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