Tesla owners roll out Australia-wide charging network – for all EVs

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Tesla owners club installs Round Australia Electric Highway, providing all EV drivers with usable charging route – while governments and industry catch up.

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UPDATED: A group of dedicated Tesla owners and drivers has built an electric vehicle charging network that spans Australia, providing any and all EV drivers with a usable charging route while they wait for governments and industry to catch up.

The Round Australia Electric Highway – pictured in the map on the right, above – covers a route around the nation of close to 17,000km, with charging outlets spaced a maximum of 400km apart, but in most cases an average of 200km, and no more than 300km.

The vast majority of the network – which was completed by May this year – uses 32 amp three-phase charge points (pictured below), which are able to be used by all types of EVs, using a 3 phase charging cable.

Those charging points offer a minimum available charge rate of 110km range per hour of charging, while some of the charge points ion the network that were pre-existing offer 70km of charge in one hour.

The idea behind the highway – which is an entirely voluntary initiative of the Tesla Owners Club of Australia (TOCA), with the costs of the chargers split between TOCA and the Australian Electric Vehicle Association – has been to fill the 10,000km of gaps where there are few or no EV chargers, including the Nullarbor, Stuart Highway and Top End.

In WA alone, more than 70 charge points were installed in towns and roadhouses on all major roads in the south and east of the state, as well as some remote locations in the north, with the backing of the state’s largest retailer, Synergy – as we reported here.*

The initiative, a team effort by Synergy and the WA branch of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association, is installing three-phase charge points in towns and roadhouses on all major roads in the south and east of the state, as well as some remote locations in the north.

WA’s regional utility, Horizon Power, also contributed to the roll-out, with installations of 3 phase outlets in the Kimberley area.

“We’re endeavouring to show that there is ‘people power’ behind the drive to EV’s, and hopefully governments can follow,” said Richard McNeall, a TOCA member and coordinator of the Round Australia Project.

“The Queensland government, so far, is the only state that has really thrown its weight behind EV charging,” he said.

Queensland’s Labor Palaszczuk government in January completed the first phase of its EV fast charging network – which is also, currently, free to use.

In that state, EV drivers can travel from Coolangatta to Cairns, and west from Brisbane to Toowoomba, using the government’s fast charger network, which is also vehicle agnostic.

Other initiatives happening around Australia include the installation of 50 dual EV chargers across government sites in Canberra, to support the ACT government’s planned shift to zero emissions government vehicles by 2022.

Tesla, meanwhile, is steadily adding to its supercharger network in Australia, with another 18 stations planned for the east coast in both metropolitan regions and along “popular holiday routes,” and one new charging station planned for Perth, Western Australia.

Tesla’s superchargers can provide drivers with half a charge in just 30 minutes, but are for use by Tesla’s only. On top of the superchargers, Tesla has more than 500 “destination chargers” installed throughout Australia, also only for Tesla drivers (although TOCA says they have been used to charge non-Teslas).

UK car maker Jaguar Land Rover has also announced plans to roll out a major charging network in Australia, ahead of the release of its first EV, the I-PACE all-electric SUV, later this year.

JLR Australia says the up to $4 million network would include 150 changing stations, using 100kW DC chargers provided by Jet Charge.

In most states, however, and at the federal government level, little to nothing of any substance is happening at a policy level to encourage the mass market uptake of EVs – a state of affairs that has put Australia well behind most of the rest of the developed world.

For the members of TOCA – who align themselves with Tesla’s mission statement, to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible – the Electric Highway project is all about getting a usable EV charging route in place “right now.”

And not just for Tesla drivers.

“We are all keen to do something for the environment, and the more EVs the better,” said McNeall – the proud owner of “Tessie,” a blue Tesla Model S 90D 2016 which, he claims, was the first EV to drive around Australia without a support vehicle or mobile generator, and the first to drive across Australia via the “Red Centre” unsupported.

“Tesla has, up until now been the only company selling 300km+ range EVs, so it pretty well has had to be an all-Tesla effort,” McNeall told RE.

“Also most people doing this field work are members of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association, and AEVA is most definitely dedicated to an Electric Highway.”

McNeall says what EV drivers like him would like from the government include policies to remove all forms of fossil fuel subsidy; set regulations to taper down and ultimately remove fossil fuels as a transport fuel; incentives to encourage EV uptake as a direct climate action initiative; and incentives to get private operators into EV charging – among other things.

In the meantime, Australian EV drivers can find TOCA’s network of EV chargers on plugshare.com, which also shows all the other types of chargers installed around Australia.

And for those property owners or business owners wishing to get in on the EV charging loop, the offer remains open.

*This article has been updated to reflect that the Western Australian government, via state-owned retailer Synergy, contributed to the AEVA and TOCA roll-out of more than 70 EV charge points in rural and remote Western Australia.

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30 Comments
  1. Peter F 4 months ago

    Amazing what a willing crowd can achieve

  2. Charles 4 months ago

    Amazing work from the dedicated drivers who have toured these routes to build this network! Well done to all involved. Stunning picture of Teslas in some icon Aussie locations!

    • Joe 4 months ago

      The Elon can launch a Tesla into space but he can’t touch ‘Our Rock’

  3. Bruce Johansson 4 months ago

    Great initiative worthy of congratulations but I dont understand who pays for he electricity that is used?

    • Antony Day 4 months ago

      In most cases, the business owner or shire where the socket is pays for the electricity, often the EV driver will be staying a while at their business and spending money there so it is offset by their profit from attracting more visitors.

      • Bruce Johansson 4 months ago

        Any EV sucks a lot of power . I am working on an e rickshaw battery swap model at the moment and even those little things chew it up at a rate that is frightening. I hope the Tesla model is sustainable particularly with most shire councils being cautious with this type of expenditure.

        • Antony Day 4 months ago

          I’m sure that once there are more EVs travelling between towns and using these charge sockets, the cost will become an issue. And a new payment model will have to be found. At the moment installing a charger that can take payment is many many times more expensive than a 32A 3 Phase socket and years of charging by a few EVs passing though. It simply isnt an issue at the moment.

          • handbaskets'r'us 4 months ago

            As for the remote and destination chargers, the cost is generally covered by donation or simply more traffic stops and visitors. Clearly the hosting locations recognise this or it wouldn’t be.
            Also encourages the pubs and motels and roadhouses etc. to get some solar on.
            Seems a bit like the trippy WA Tesla crew are leading an economic revival for forgotten and remote places.

        • neroden 4 months ago

          They don’t really use much power. We’ve figured this out in the US.

          Zero to full in my power-hog Model S is 85 kWh, roughly speaking, and at 12 cents US per kwh (typical for where I live), that’s about $10. Since I’m rarely charging from zero to full, it’s less than that.

          The business model of most chargers provided by businesses is that everyone who uses one patronizes the local business which provides it. And probably spends more than $20 on food, coffee, or whatever.

          • Antony Day 4 months ago

            Agreed they don’t use much power, unfortunately remote sites do have to pay more for power in Aus , outside of the cities – in most cases about 35c / kWh – so its about $20 for a fill up in avg EV these days. Still not a large amount though and the enthusiasm which EVs have been welcomed with in small towns has been fantastic, in many cases they literally have people waiting for their arrival in town, I know of one Trans Aus driver who had to give a talk and rides to the assembled townsfolk in Kalgoorlie despite only having 6km left.. and he was late, they waited.. The enthusiasm for electric cars is pretty big in country WA

      • Gyrogordini 4 months ago

        And often, we drivers just offer to pay for our energy, usually severely rounded UP in $ terms! We’re pleased to have the privilige to be able to recharge, and keen to more than pay our way! If the supplier wants, they can engage a firm like Everty to look after bookings, payment and so on, for a small fee…

      • Joe 4 months ago

        Its a no brainer really.

  4. Antony Day 4 months ago

    This was a great initiative, a real step change ,however it must be acknowledged that several businesses and organisations in WA especially contributed to this magnificent effort including but not limited to TOCWA ( Tesla Owners Club Western Australia ) and Synergy. David Lloyd and Rob Dean of TOCWA moved mountains to get sockets installed throughout WA. As EV drivers we are very grateful to them. Not only will we be able to drive around the country including our vast state but those who trot out the old tired excuse that we can’t have EVs without charging infrastructure might have to go looking for other excuses now.

    • Richard McNeall 4 months ago

      Very true @antonyday:disqus , including Matt Kemner and David Lloyd’s Nullarbor mapping in 2016, Rob Dean’s Broome exercise of the same year, Richard Bentley’s Red Centre via SA route in 2017, Mark Talloen’s filling in all the Qld gaps and creating the Longreach shortcut, and numerous individual
      efforts.

      • Antony Day 4 months ago

        Indeed, there are so many contributors to this.

      • Charles 4 months ago

        It’s also worth pointing out that if anyone wants to see another route enabled.. maybe Adelaide to Broken Hill to Sydney, for example? To get in touch with AEVA and/or TOCA 🙂

  5. Gyrogordini 4 months ago

    Fantastic achievement by TOCA, with strong support from AEVA. Even where there is only one 32Avphase supported in the 3 phase socket (some sites cannot supply three phase!), it’s way better than 10-15 A three pin sockets!

    • Richard McNeall 4 months ago

      Actually AEVA was more than just supporting, having pioneered the 3 phase concept in WA the year before TOCA and AEVA both committed to the Round Australia Electric Highway!

      • Gyrogordini 4 months ago

        I was trying to be polite and respectful!😊

        • Richard McNeall 4 months ago

          Not a problem Gyrogordini ! 🙂 Never thought otherwise !

  6. Chris Jones 4 months ago

    And finally we can now drive a Renault Zoe around the country using these same 3-phase sockets!

    • Nick Kemp 4 months ago

      But can you buy one?

      • Chris Jones 4 months ago

        Yes, one was recently sold in Melville (that I’m aware of) and will be delivered next month.

        • Nick Kemp 3 months ago

          Outstanding! Finally the clock is ticking

  7. Peter Campbell 4 months ago

    “Tesla has more than 500 “destination chargers” installed throughout Australia, also only for Tesla drivers (although TOCA says they have been used to charge non-Teslas).”
    As the name suggests the ‘destination chargers’ provide relatively slow charging at destinations where one might linger for a while. I believe that Tesla provided the equipment but the businesses installed and pay for the electricity. They tend to be at hotels, tourist destinations, wineries, clubs and so on. The businesses hope to attract people to visit their facilities. The plug is Tesla-specific but the inner workings are the same standard as works with other plug shapes for level two charging, CCS and J1772. I recently bought a Tesla to J1772 adaptor and tried it out with my Holden Volt at a few places with success. Those businesses benefitted because we stayed and bought drinks and food at each when we might have gone elsewhere. None seemed to be concerned that we were in a differently branded EV.

    • Chris Jones 4 months ago

      Yes, and really it would take a special kind of person to get upset that another make of EV was using a piece of charging infrastructure made by Tesla. It’s all pushing for the good cause. Any EV can use the Tesla destination charger with the right adapter.

      • Rob BDR529 4 months ago

        And it’s doubtful Tesla or the destination charger host are concerned in the least, although there is one Tesla owner that shakes his cot and throws the crayons around when someone uses a destination charger.

  8. Hadtobe 4 months ago

    Putting in more charging points but where is the Tesla shop front. Happy to take our lithium to convert to batteries in Tesla cars that are sent to the eastern states – even Adelaide. Anyone feel like supporting Tesla. Seriously have a look at Jaguar. They are coming to WA and will use all the charging points.

    • Greg Hudson 3 months ago

      When you see Jag building chargers between cities, THEN you might have something to crow about, but whilst they only install at Jag dealerships, it is pretty much useless IMO (but may be marginally better than Nissan)

  9. Atlantican 3 months ago

    The page on Supercharger at Tesla website has an animation that seems to indicate that it charge a Tesla from 0?% to 50% in 8 minutes, to 60% in 13 minutes, to 65% in 17 minutes, to 70% in 21 minutes, to 80% in 31 minutes, to 90% in 51 minutes, to 100% in 84 minutes. The Wikipedia say it takes about 20 minutes to charge to 50% on the original 85 kwh Model S. This article says half a charge in 30 minutes. Can any Tesla owner here provide a figure based on actual experience, please!

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