Slow but steady roll out for Australia's "electric roads"
Australia has quite a way to go before an electric car becomes a practical proposition for anyone but the most city-bound motorists, but a couple of recent developments have eliminated “range anxiety” on some key routes.
In April electric car maker Tesla announced that a supercharger station would be opened in Goulburn New South Wales by mid year, making it possible for Tesla owners to travel between Sydney and Canberra. Recharging their car is free.
It’s part of Tesla’s plans to roll out charging stations across the country. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has claimed that within 12 months “Southern Australia” will be connected to Tesla’s network of superchargers. It’s an ambitious plan and it will be interesting to see if it comes to fruition. The Sydney to Melbourne route is a priority for the company.
In Western Australia charging stations are about to be opened up throughout the southwest as part of the RACWA’s Electric Highway® with the first operating by the end of June. Drivers will be able to take their electric cars as far south as Augusta and inland to Bridgetown.
Recharging to 80% capacity will take less than half an hour, giving tourists the opportunity to stroll around and presumably spend some money in town, which is why local councils have got behind the scheme by owning and maintaining the charging stations.
The gradual and measured roll-out from Tesla and the RACWA is in marked contrast to the overly ambitious plans of Better Place. This international company planned to roll out tens of thousands of recharging stations across the world but ran out of charge themselves, filing for bankruptcy in May 2013.
In Europe fast charging stations are becoming more common and are frequently found in petrol stations. So far technologically savvy Estonia is the only country in the world with a nationwide electric car charging network where recharging stations are as common as petrol stations.
Sceptics of electric cars should perhaps keep one lesson of history in mind. In the early days of motoring many believed the horseless carriage would never replace the horse and cart because of the limited access to fuel stations.
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