By Samuel Smith
Published: Wednesday, February 12, 2020
In 2020, you’ll find electric vehicles happily humming around the streets of most cities – Adelaide included. With plenty of charge on hand, urban EVs live cruisy lives. Out of town though, it’s a different story.
Aussies love to drive. In fact, according to ABS statistics, we have the 4th highest number of cars per capita in the world.
But there’s a change in the air and, potentially, the tank.
While national vehicle sales are declining, a recent report by the Electric Vehicle Council of Australia showed a 90% increase in electric vehicle sales during the first half of 2019, compared to the same period in 2018.
Of all states, SA had the highest percentage of new electric vehicle sales, with a ratio of 21 EVs purchased for every 10,000 new cars.
If growth continues at this rate, Infrastructure Australia predicts Australian EV sales will account for 70% of new vehicle sales by 2040.
The question is, are our roads ready for an electric influx?
Pushing to increase infrastructure
Adelaide has more than 40 electric vehicle charging stations, but outside the city, finding somewhere to recharge isn’t an easy task.
Some towns in regional SA are impossible to reach in an EV.
“If we’re talking intra-city travel, range is probably not a huge problem,” RAA mobility expert Mark Borlace says.
“The issue, however, comes with regional driving. Some SA towns are hundreds of kilometres apart, and currently the state has approximately 80 public charging stations.”
RAA has lobbied the government to adopt a broader rollout of electric vehicle chargers in regional SA, to encourage tourism and provide flexibility for EV users.
RAA – along with other states’ mobility clubs – support the development of EV charging infrastructure through our investment in the Australian Motoring Services (AMS) who are Chargefox stakeholders.
In September last year, Australian public electric vehicle charging network Chargefox announced a plan to install more than 100 ultra-rapid charging stations across the country.
The first SA site at Keith BP is in the final stages of construction. A second charger will be developed in Murray Bridge.
Chargefox’s 350kW chargers can deliver a whopping 450km of range to some cars in 20 minutes. Regular chargers can take more than 8 hours to deliver the same range.
How far could you get today?
Using EV charging station locator Plugshare, we investigated how 2 different EVs would handle a range of popular SA road trips, starting at RAA HQ in Adelaide’s Mile End.
Our test vehicles were a 2019 Nissan Leaf with a 170km range (priced around $49,990) and a 2018 Tesla Model S 90D with a 400km range (priced around $120,000).
|Charger type||Time to fully recharge||Plug type|
|Level 1||16–40 hours. Up to 4 days for Tesla||Any wall socket with cable|
|Level 2||4–8 hours||J1772 connector, Tesla (with adaptor)|
|Level 2 Tesla||4–8 hours||Tesla only|
|DC Fast Charger||Within an hour||SAE combo, CHAdeMO, Tesla|
|Tesla Supercharger||Under a hour||Tesla only|
Adelaide to Clare, 143km
In the Leaf, you could drive to Clare on one charge, but as there are no compatible public chargers in the region, you’d need to find a wall socket and wait up to 15 hours for a Level 1 recharge before heading home.
The closest public charger to Clare is 92km away at the Gawler Visitor Information Centre. It’s a Level 2 charger, so could take 4 to 6 hours to recharge from empty.
In the Tesla Model S 90D, you could make a return trip without having to recharge.
Adelaide to Kingscote, 183km
The Leaf could drive 104km to Cape Jervis in a single charge, but it’d be wise to top up with the KI Level 2 charger in Normanville before driving onto the ferry. This could be done while enjoying lunch at the local bakery and a stroll on the beach.
On Kangaroo Island, there are public Level 2 chargers at Penneshsaw, Kingscote, KI Airport and American River. If you’re staying in Kingscote, recharge overnight via a Level 1 wall socket.
On the way home, stop off for a Level 2 top up at McLaren Vale’s Maxwell Wines.
In the Tesla Model S 90D, you could technically make a return trip without having to charge, but it would be risky.
We’d recommend recharging somewhere on Kangaroo Island.
Adelaide to Wilpena Pound, 443km
Without multiple overnight stops, this trip would be impossible in a Nissan Leaf. On the way, there’s a 191km gap between public Level 2 chargers at Parafield Airport and Jamestown.
From Jamestown, the next Level 2 charger is more than 160km away in Hawker, which would be pushing the Leaf’s limits.
In the Tesla, you’d have to drive to Clare first, where you could charge to full under an hour using a public Tesla Supercharger.
You’d then be able to drive 299km to Wilpena Pound, where you’d have to recharge (for more than 24 hours) via a wall socket.
The state government needs to invest in more regional EV charging stations, especially throughout the state’s east and far north.
The current lack of charging infrastructure is particularly problematic for owners of affordable EVs, like the Nissan Leaf, with relatively short ranges.
While Tesla vehicles have access to more chargers and a greater range, their high price renders them inaccessible to many prospective EV owners.