Signs of life in Australia’s electric vehicle market this week with the official launch of Queensland’s electric vehicle Super Highway: a network of fast-charging EV stations that will allow electric car drivers to travel from the state’s southern border to the Far North, recharging on green – and free, at first – electricity along the way.
The project, in the works for more than two years now, was launched on Thursday by Queensland’s acting roads minister*, Steven Miles, who announced the first 18 towns and cities that would make up phase one of the Electric Super Highway, which he said would be the largest in any one state in the world.
Back in July 2015, the Palaszczuk government called for expressions of interest to build a solar powered, fast charging electric vehicle service station in Townsville suburb of Oonoonba, as the first installment of a potential 1,600km network dotted along the Bruce Highway.
The towns named on Thursday include Cairns, Tully, Townsville, Bowen, Mackay, Carmila, Marlborough, Rockhampton, Miriam Vale, Childers, Maryborough, Cooroy, Brisbane, Helensvale, Coolangatta, Springfield, Gatton and Toowoomba.
Miles said the fast chargers – many, but not quite all, of which have been supplied by local Brisbane-Based success-story, Tritium – would be free to use at first, to encourage as many people as possible to start using them. (A spokesperson from the Department of Environment said the charger in Cairns was an EVlink, supplied by Schnieder Electric.)
Tritium’s Veefil fast chargers – in particular its Veefil-RT 50kW DC model, first released in 2o13 – are recognised as being among the world’s most technologically-advanced, able to recharge an EV battery in as little as 10 minutes, and have been installed in 18 countries around the globe, including a number of international EV super highways.
Just this week, the company attracted the attention – and cash – of Australian coal baron, Brian Flannery, who invested all $10 million of Tritium’s latest fund-raising. As we reported, the money will be used to finance the launch of three new products, including an ultra-fast, high powered charger up to 475kW; a DC charger for work places, fleets and high-density living; and a 12kW Bi-directional DC home charger.
In Queensland, the network of fast-chargers will supply green energy, the government said, purchased through green energy credits or offsets.
“EVs can provide not only a reduced fuel cost for Queenslanders, but an environmentally-friendly transport option, particularly when charged from renewable energy,” Miles said.
“This project is ambitious, but we want as many people as possible on board the electric vehicle revolution, as part of our transition to a low emissions future.”
As we have reported on RenewEconomy, EV uptake in Australia remains frustratingly slow for many in the industry, a situation that has been exacerbated by a lack of consumer choice, absence of government policy incentives, and a lack of consumer education.
Miles said on Thursday that a recent survey showed around half of Queensland drivers would consider getting an EV as their next new car, but that improvements to public fast-charging infrastructure would make it more likely.
Behyad Jafari, who is CEO of the newly formed Electric Vehicle Council, commended the Queensland government for its national leadership in supporting the use of electric vehicles.
“This initial support from government serves as a signal that Queensland is serious about electric vehicles; providing the opportunity for investment to grow our economy and create new, high skilled jobs,” he said.
“I encourage all governments across Australia to follow suit and provide motorists with the support needed to promote electric vehicle uptake.”
*This article has been corrected to show that Steven Miles is not new to the role of Queensland environment minister.