More than 60 public electric vehicle charging stations are being built this year around regional New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland in a bid to make electric cars a more practical option in regional Australia.
But will this be enough to make electric vehicles (EVs) work in the bush?
To find out, I hit the highway for a 1,200-kilometre regional road trip in an electric car.
Before I left, my biggest anxiety was, of course, range. I’d rented an electric SUV with a range of about 450 kilometres, which was almost enough to get from Sydney to my first destination of Wagga Wagga.
I planned to charge the car at a new public charging station in Jugiong, 337 kilometres away.
Leaving Sydney, the car told me I had a range of 410 kilometres, leaving me a margin of 70 kilometres. Tight, but doable.
But outside Sydney, I drove into the teeth of headwinds strong enough to shake the car.
Running on empty
Very quickly, the car started recalculating the range. It was now telling me I wouldn’t make it to Jugiong. The headwinds were drastically affecting the range of the car.
Plan B was recharging at a recently installed station in Yass, 60 kilometres closer.
I was pretty sure I’d make it, but if the charging station was out of order, the car would go flat.
I didn’t have a plan C.
The last 40 kilometres before Yass was a white-knuckle experience.
Anyone who’s rolled into a service station on fumes will understand the newly installed charging station in Yass was a beautiful sight. I arrived with 39 kilometres of battery left.
The Yass charging station is the latest in a network of 35 regional charging stations installed by the NSW Motorists Association, NRMA, in partnership with the NSW Government.
‘Australians won’t have a choice’
NRMA spokesperson Peter Khoury told me the rest of the world was turning its back on petrol and diesel-powered cars and Australia needed to follow suit.
“There are environmental benefits but this is not just an environmental issue. It’s a transport issue. It’s a national security issue. We don’t want to be left behind,” Mr Khoury said.
The NRMA plans to install enough charging stations to drive as far as western New South Wales just using their network of chargers.
Similar rollouts of charging stations are taking place in Victoria and Queensland, where the State Government plans enough chargers to drive from Brisbane to Cairns.