Rethinking the Design of EV Charger Configurations

Having recently come back from a 1,000km round trip, towing a trailer behind our Tesla Model 3, I’ve learned two things. Firstly, we need a denser network of reliable fast DC chargers in country Australia and secondly but equally importantly, we also need to rethink the design of electric vehicle (EV) charger configurations to allow EVs towing trailers to also be able to plug-in. We can refuel internal combustion engine (ICE) cars while towing a trailer, boat, caravan, or horse float, so why not an EV?

Plugging-in an EV while towing a trailer can lead to some creative manoeuvres under the existing reverse-park configurations

If EV demand figures are anything to go by, consumers love EVs, both around the world as well as in Australia and we also love towing our trailers, caravans, boats and even horse floats but how are we going to go combining the two? How are we going to go using our EVs for towing?

With EVs accounting for only about 8.3% of global new light car sales in 2021, there aren’t yet many two-EV households, therefore for the time being at least, when a two-car family buys an EV, it is mainly bought as a second city car, with an ICE four-wheel drive SUV or ute/truck usually the designated towing vehicle. As a result, most manufacturers have targeted their EV sales at this second car market but with EVs growing at a rapid pace, (the 8.3% global figure was a 108% increase on 2020 numbers), contrary to many projections, it may only be 3-4 years before one in every two cars sold around the world is an EV. Furthermore, with 89% of Tesla owners saying they’ll replace their car with another Tesla, many more two-EV households, such as ours, may not be that far away, which means at least one of the EVs may need to be a capable towing vehicle. To put it another way, as Tesla points out, “consumers do not buy cars that can meet most of their driving needs; they buy a car that meets all their driving needs.”

This fact is not lost on car makers several of whom have introduced impressive off-road and towing vehicles including the Rivian R1T, GMC Hummer EV, Ford F-150 Lightning, Tesla Cybertruck, Chevrolet Silverado, Toyota Hilux EV, Ram 1500, Lordstown Endurance, Bollinger B2, Fisker Ocean SUV, LDV Maxus New EV, Canoo EV Pickup and others.

Whether we’ll see any of these models in Australia anytime soon remains to be seen, however, in the absence of a national EV policy and with Australia having become a dumping ground for dirty and inefficient EVs due to a lack of vehicle and fuel emission standards, it is no surprise that car manufacturers have been slow in introducing their EV models to our shores. We’re therefore limited to only a fraction of the models available in other markets. As an example, Europe has around 120 plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and over 90 pure EV (PEV or BEV) models on the market. In contrast, with less than 30 models available in our market of which only about a dozen are fully electric, prospective Aussie EV owners are confined to about a quarter of the PHEV selection and less than a sixth of the PEV options. That said, however, with deliveries having already began in some right-hand drive markets, the arrival of the Tesla Model Y in Australia seems imminent. The Model Y should be able to tow up to 1,588kg on the 19” or 21” wheels and when the Cybetruck becomes available here, it may well become the ultimate towing vehicle with an unrivalled 6-tonne towing capability. In the meantime, the Model X is also capable of towing up to 2,300kg.

With so many towing capable EVs inevitably hitting the market, we need to ensure these cars can conveniently charge when towing. At the moment, the majority of EV chargers are mounted against a curb requiring most EVs to reverse up against the curb or some to drive-in forward. Neither method works if towing a trailer. There were technical and economic reasons why some sites were initially configured this way, but one can’t help think that many other sites were designed in this manner for no other reason other than because this is the way things have been done in the past. Five examples are pictured below.

12-stall South Lamar Boulevard Supercharger in Austin, Texas
12-stall Kemptthal Supercharger in Switzerland
6-stall Tesla Supercharger at Shanghai International Metropolis in Shanghai, China
6-stall Tesla Supercharger in Modi’in, Israel
6-stall Tesla Supercharger in Hartshead Moor, UK – Westbound

I can’t see the above configurations being any more cost effective than what I call a “drive-through” layout. A drive-through configuration as found in most petrol and gas stations doesn’t require the cars to reverse or forward park against a curb or wall but instead allows them to enter at one end and exit at the other while also allowing for EVs towing a trailer to plug-in.

Existing vs Tow Friendly Charger Configurations

As can be seen from the graphic above, in contrast to how the stalls are mostly configured now, there are numerous advantages to a ‘drive-through’ configuration. Apart from a more efficient design, a drive-through configuration makes for easier parking when towing while also giving non-towing cars a choice to either reverse-park as is the case now or forward park, particularly when two or more bays are free. If there is at least one towing vehicle being charged, the drive-through layout allows for more towing EVs as well as non-towing EVs to be charged simultaneously. As figure #2 shows, and as can be seen from the photos below, a car with even a small trailer needs to block-off four other charging bays in order to awkwardly manoeuvre into a position where an almost fully extended charging cable can reach the towing vehicle.

Tesla Model 3 towing a trailer awkwardly charging at Williams Woolshed Supercharger in Western Australia
Tesla Model 3 towing a trailer awkwardly charging at Eaton Fair Shopping Centre Supercharger in Western Australia
Eaton Fair Shopping Centre Tesla Supercharger with proposed location for future drive-through style chargers

As the photo above shows, had the Superchargers been installed at the location indicated by the red marking, the stalls could have been configured in a ‘drive-through’ formation. As the graphic illustrates, and as summarised in the table below, a drive-through configuration can accommodate the same number of non-towing EVs as the usual reverse park configuration shown in figures #1 and #2, however, while a reverse park configuration can only accommodate a maximum of one towing vehicle and two non-towing cars, a drive-through layout such as the one in figure #7, can accommodate up to four non-towing vehicles in addition to one towing vehicle.

Table comparing the simultaneous charging capacity of the three main charging stall configurations

While not as efficient as the drive-through design, a parallel park layout can still work for towing EVs. We were lucky to find one such charger in Nannup, Western Australia where we had a very convenient seamless charging experience.

Tesla Model 3 towing a trailer conveniently charging at the parallel park configured 50kW DC charger in Nannup, Western Australia

The reverse park, parallel park and the drive-through configurations constitute the three main layouts, however, these can be combined into numerous variations to suit a specific site, such as illustrated below.

Example of a charger stall configuration utilising a combination of layouts
Example of a charger stall configuration utilising a combination of parallel park and reverse park layouts at the Tesla Supercharger in Aiea, Hawaii

Naturally, one solution open to towing EVs is to unhitch the trailer, boat, caravan or horse float in a nearby parking space and to then drive the EV to the charger and plug-in as per normal. An ICE car towing a trailer doesn’t have to unhitch just to fill up with petrol or gas and an EV driver shouldn’t have to do so either, as there can be many disadvantages to this approach including the following:

  • It can be prohibitively inconvenient to unhitch a trailer,
  • it can be unnecessarily time-consuming to unhitch a trailer,
  • EVs that are towing will consume more energy resulting in a shorter range which means they’ll need to charge more often. This in itself can potentially be seen as a small inconvenience, so it doesn’t need to be further exacerbated with unnecessarily unhitching and hooking on the trailer at each charging station,
  • when a trailer is unhitched from a car and parked elsewhere it needs to be secured to prevent another car simply pulling up, attaching it to its tow bar and stealing the trailer, caravan, boat, or horse float,
  • it’s not uncommon for particularly older trailers to have no brakes requiring the wheels to be manually chocked on anything other than the most level surface which exacerbates the inconvenience of unnecessarily hitching up and unhitching a trailer,
  • the jockey wheel near the point of the A-frame of many trailers doesn’t reach low enough to attach to the towbar of some cars such as the Model 3 without an adapter, requiring a minimum of two people to hook-on or unhitch a trailer, 
  • it’s not uncommon for some trailers to have finicky electrical connections requiring extensive jiggling of the connection in order to get it to work properly, requiring at least two or three people to establish a stable working connection.

As outlined above, unhitching a trailer, boat, caravan or horse float just to charge, is unnecessarily time consuming and there are numerous impracticalities and inconveniences to this approach and as mentioned earlier, an ICE car towing a trailer doesn’t need to unhitch just to fill-up, therefore, neither should an EV.

A drive-through configuration such as that found in most petrol / gas stations is the logical solution having the following benefits:

  • It is designed to cater to electric vehicles towing a trailer, caravan, boat, horse float or anything else,
  • it is a more efficient design allowing more EVs to be charged simultaneously,
  • it is a more convenient design allowing particularly towing EVs but also non-towing EVs to get in and out of the charging bays faster and easier,
  • it doesn’t require unnecessarily fully extending the DC cable to reach the towing vehicle,
  • notwithstanding the fact that the Tesla Semi or other electric semitrailers will have their own dedicated charging networks and assuming they will have a plug that is backward compatible with CCS2 and perhaps also a Type2 (Mennekes) connection for trickle charging, a drive-through layout may be the only way these trucks will be able to charge at regular charging stations.

As noted earlier, due to economic constraints in augmenting the existing network infrastructure, and as not all sites are the same, naturally, every site won’t lend itself to a drive-through layout, however, in situations where it is possible to achieve a more logical, more efficient, user-friendly design at little or no additional cost, a better thought-out configuration such as the angled drive-through design should be considered.

Below are some examples of tow-friendly Tesla Supercharger configurations:

Tesla Supercharger in Hitra, Norway
12- stall Tesla Supercharger at Morongo Trail in Cabazon, California with dedicated charging stalls for towing EVs
16-stall Tesla Supercharger in Ystad, Sweden
10-stall Tesla Supercharger in Rudshøgda, Norway
20-stall Tesla Supercharger in Malung, Sweden
16-stall Tesla Supercharger in Fåvang, Norway

Most petrol and gas stations have a convenient drive-through design so why should EV owners have to reverse-park against a curb to plug-into an EV charger? From the perspective of an EV owner towing a trailer, the current reverse-park layout is a major oversight requiring immediate rectification.

This concludes part one of a two-part article. Part two can be found herehttps://www.tocwa.org.au/2022/04/20/major-parts-of-australia-in-desperate-need-of-reliable-fast-dc-chargers/

[This article was edited on 22nd of April 2022, to add the second (right) image of the Morongo Trail Cabazon Supercharger in California which better shows the dedicated charging stalls for towing EVs. Thank you to Steve @rexjamo for supplying this photo.]

Pete Petrovsky is an active TOCWA (Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia) committee member and a long-time EV enthusiast. He placed a $6,000 deposit for a Model X (#39) in 2014 but when it came to taking delivery he couldn’t justify the cost, so instead, he and his wife decided to buy two PHEVs and wait for the Model 3. In March of 2016 they bought the Holden Volt and a couple of weeks later the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and on the day it was unveiled, Pete ordered the Model 3. After selling the Outlander, in September 2019, Pete received his long awaited first Tesla, a Model 3 Performance. Despite still loving their Volt, Pete and his wife took delivery of their second Model 3 in December 2021. In his spare time, Pete also runs the ‘Tesla Ahead of the Curve’ YouTube channel and is also a long-term Tesla shareholder.

Major Parts of Australia in Desperate Need of Reliable Fast DC Chargers

Having recently come back from a 1,000km round trip towing a trailer behind our Tesla Model 3, I’ve learned two things. Firstly, we need a denser network of reliable fast DC chargers in country Australia but importantly we also need to rethink EV charger design and configurations to allow EVs towing trailers, caravans and boats to also be able to charge. This is part two of a two-part article. I address the need for more efficiently designed EV charger configurators in part one.

With almost 70,000kms on the clock in a little over two and a half years, I drive almost twice as much as the Australian pre-Covid average of about 15,000km a year. As I can charge at home, if I exclude long road trips, I’ve never come anywhere to even close to running out of the Model 3 Performance real world city range of approximately 500km (the car is rated at 530km at the WLTP standard).   

That said, while our M3P, may have considerably more than sufficient range around town, once you add a persistent headwind, higher average speeds, bigger payload, fewer opportunities for regenerative braking, a rougher coarse road, rain, colder weather, HVAC use, not to mention a fully loaded trailer, the usually more than sufficient 450-500km range starts to take a considerable dive to closer to 250km or less. While in theory, the 250km is more than enough to still stay within the recommended no more than two-hour drive legs in between at least 15-minute rest breaks, in practice, things become a little more challenging when EV chargers are more than 250km apart or in our case, when the only DC charger along a 320km route ceases to work.

CCS2 port unavailable at Kojonup 50kW DC charger

While a large battery with increased range would obviously help on the occasional long road trips, at all other times, it would add unnecessary extra weight thereby reducing efficiency and handling while increasing the embodied energy, not to mention the price and hence the economic payback period of the car. A better solution is a denser network of reliable easy-to-use fast DC chargers particularly in country areas.

Unfortunately, the coverage of most EV charging networks in Australia is still very limited and the reliability of non-Tesla chargers is far from optimal.

With only a few hundred public DC chargers in Australia, primarily centred around the eastern states, there are vast uncovered areas in Australia compared to the full coverage in New Zealand Source: Plugshare
The USA map can only show some DC chargers. With over 65,000 public DC chargers in the USA, it is too resource intensive for the website to load all the DC chargers.
The map of Europe can only show some DC chargers. With over 25,000 public DC chargers in the EU, it is too resource intensive for the website to load all the DC chargers.

While Tesla can boast near-perfect Supercharger reliability and the largest EV charging network in the world, the fact is that we still have large gaps in many parts of country Australia, particularly in WA, NT, SA and northern and inner parts of QLD. As demand for Tesla Superchargers is only increasing around the globe, jurisdictions with lacklustre EV policies understandably rank lower on the priority list. Not only do we have no real national EV policy to speak of but with Australia becoming a dumping ground for dirty and inefficient cars, due to our lack of vehicle and fuel emission standards, it is no surprise that Australia is not a high priority.

Tesla Supercharger reliability, Source: Tesla Impact Report 2020
Map of Australian and NZ Tesla Superchargers Source: Plugshare

Australia no longer manufactures the Commodore, the Falcon or any other mass-market cars, so we have no choice but to buy what the world sells. Apart from a couple of exceptions, with virtually all manufacturers ceasing the production of fossil fuel vehicles either by 2025 or before the end of this decade, our DC charging networks will need to expand, fast.

(This was part one of a two-part article. Part two is available here: https://www.tocwa.org.au/2022/04/20/rethinking-the-design-of-ev-charger-configurations/

Pete Petrovsky is an active TOCWA (Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia) committee member and a long-time EV enthusiast. He placed a $6,000 deposit for a Model X (#39) in 2014 but when it came to taking delivery he couldn’t justify the cost, so instead, he and his wife decided to buy two PHEVs and wait for the Model 3. In March of 2016 they bought the Holden Volt and a couple of weeks later the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and on the day it was unveiled, Pete ordered the Model 3. After selling the Outlander, in September 2019, Pete received his long awaited first Tesla, a Model 3 Performance. Despite still loving their Volt, Pete and his wife took delivery of their second Model 3 in December 2021. In his spare time, Pete also runs the ‘Tesla Ahead of the Curve’ YouTube channel and is also a long-term Tesla shareholder.

Dealing with Electric Vehicle Misinformation

Social media can be very challenging day after day, handy for staying in touch with distant friends and relatives but an often a battlefield of mistruths, aggravation and division.

Like many other discussion topics, a mention of Electric Vehicles brings out a vast amount of opinions for and against, you have three main choices to deal with it:

  • 1. Delete all forms of social media and live happily ever after.
  • 2. Scroll fast without reading the article or any comments.
  • 3. I highly suggest you take up one of the first 2 options but if you want to engage please read the following:

There are two main types providing negative comments against EVs, those that just don’t know any better and are just repeating information they’ve seen/heard elsewhere without fact checking and those that know full well the information they’re providing is misleading/false. The second type are generally repeat offenders as they have skin in the game so to speak.

  • Only engage if you feel it’s absolutely necessary, if someone comments “I’ll stick to my V8 thanks” leave it be.
  • Have quality Australian based articles on EVs ready to go and provide the link when necessary.
  • Keep your comments polite no matter how abusive others become.
  • Keep in mind your comment/answer is aimed at the fence sitters more than the EV naysayer.
  • Provide evidence based facts not opinion.
  • For some responses a photo is worth a thousand words.
  • Mention your “EV” rather than your Tesla, being generic keeps prevents the discussion being side-tracked.
  • Be ready for the goalposts to be moved, when they are your comment has hit its target.
  • Avoid climate change discussion, many on social media only care about themselves.
  • Discuss energy independence, fuel and servicing savings, safety, performance, convenience.

The 21st Century is a world of self interest, tell them what they want to hear.

Fuel prices are fuelling the switch to electric vehicles, but will an EV still be worth it if fuel prices drop?

With petrol and diesel prices at the pump rising to astronomic levels are you thinking of switching to an electric vehicle?

If so, you’re not alone. As can be seen from the Google Trends search data below, Australians are increasingly thinking about making the switch to EVs.

There is a long list of reasons to switch to an EV but if it’s the cost of owning and running a car that’s your main motivator, you’ll want to know how the figures compare to your current car and you’ll also be interested to know how this may change as petrol prices rise or fall.

The chart below illustrates the relationship between fuel prices and how much better off you are likely to be, owning what is by far Australia’s most popular EV, a Tesla Model 3 versus owning an average Australian internal combustion engine (ICE) car. The calculations are based on a short 3-year period of ownership but the longer you hold on to the Model 3 the better off you’ll be.

As the chart above shows, at a petrol price of $2.00 per litre, you’ll be at least $14,193 better off with the Model 3 after 3 years, but even if the petrol price was to halve to $1.00 a litre you would still be $9,198 in front. Incredibly, even if fuel was completely free, the Model 3 would still put you in front to the tune of $4,203 over 3 years. In fact, the petrol price would need to be at a negative 84 cents for you to be at break-even point. Yes, you read that correctly, the petrol station would need to pay you $84 for every 100 litres of fuel you pump into your car and owning the Model 3 for just three years would still put you a dollar in front.

In case you’re wondering what is the affect of the cut in the fuel excise tax announced in the federal budget on 29th of March, it would work out to $1,099 over a 3-year period but the Treasurer has announced it will only be put in place for 6 months, so it works out to about $183. Therefore, the difference is a benefit of $14,093 vs a benefit of $13,910 for the M3 over an ICE car, but that of course assumes that fuel prices don’t go up any further.

The table above provides some insight into the calculations which are based on Australian averages and if anything, are a little too kind towards the petrol car. For example, it assumes that the Tesla Model 3 is charged from the electricity grid 100% at average standard electricity tariffs. Once you purchase an EV, you’ll quickly realise there are various EV-friendly lower cost tariffs offered by electricity retailers. Furthermore, most EV owners charge their cars using a solar PV system which, can produce more than enough power to cover the electricity usage of an average Model 3 several times over. For example, assuming a typical residential system with a 6.6kW solar panel array and a 5kW inverter, one would expect it to produce anywhere from 23-24kWh a day in the least sunny parts of Australia such as in Melbourne or Hobart to around 26kWh in Sydney, 28kWh in Adelaide or Brisbane or about 29kWh a day in Australia’s sunniest cities like Perth or Darwin. A Model 3 driving the average amount driven by an Australian car will use between 6 and 6.5kWh a day. Therefore, a typical residential solar system in Perth will produce enough free energy to power four and a half Model 3s and even in Melbourne a typical solar PV system will power about 3.75 M3s leaving surplus energy for another EV and the rest of the home.

The great benefit of solar power is its predictable cost. With the cost of petrol and diesel being based on fluctuating prices determined by world oil markets, it’s anyone’s guess what the prices may be at the bowser in the next few weeks let alone in the next few years, making household or business budgeting a challenge. In contrast, once an appropriately designed solar PV system has paid for itself, usually in about two to five years, the price of its solar generated electricity is exactly zero as the power it generates comes from the sun which has cost the exact same amount of zero cents for the last 4.603 billion years and will likely cost the same for a further 5-7 billion years. (Some will argue that there is an opportunity cost in the form of foregone feed-in-tariffs, however, these have been declining over the years and they generally represent only about a quarter of a standard residential electricity tariff.)

While it’s hard to argue with the economics of owning Australia’s most popular electric vehicle, there are many other important aspects of car ownership. I would argue that when it comes to an EV such as the Model 3 or Model Y, there are only two factors that one could argue to be inferior to a petrol car. These are the upfront cost in the form of the sticker price and the time to refuel, however, as you will see these are largely irrelevant in the vast majority of situations for most Aussie car owners.

As I hope I have made evident in the first part of this article, it doesn’t make financial or any other sense to look at a car’s sticker price in isolation. One should take all the costs of car ownership into account and make decisions based on the difference in the total cost of ownership because if you don’t you could fall into the trap of buying a $50 printer only to later realise the print cartridges will cost you $100 each. With that said, the only time the sticker price becomes relevant is if one is unable to stretch the budget or the loan. While I would never advocate for anyone buying a car they can’t afford, there is a phenomenon called the “Tesla Stretch” where aspiring Tesla owners have stretched their budgets and / or borrowing capacity to afford their dream car. The Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia (TOCWA) conducted a recent poll on its Facebook page which which showed that almost 88% of the 139 respondents spent more on their Tesla than on their previous car with a staggering 69% paying $30,000 or more.

As with the sticker price, the time to refuel argument is only relevant in rare circumstances. With a highway range of approximately 350 – 400km the Tesla Model 3 RWD has the shortest range of any Tesla but even with this model the time to refuel will only be a factor on long road trips with legs of more than three and a half to four hours at a time. It should be noted that to avoid driver fatigue the recommendation is to have a 15-minute break at least every two hours. At all other times, an EV is actually much more convenient than a petrol or diesel vehicle because, similar to a smartphone, you recharge it when you’re at home which means that most of the time you hop in the Tesla you’ll have about 10 days of driving waiting and ready to go without the inconvenience of spending time searching for and driving to a reasonably priced service station, then standing there with your hand on the bowser inhaling the petrol fumes for five minutes, then lining up to pay and so on.  

Having focused on the two factors where one could argue than an EV is inferior to an ICE car, below is a list of some of the other factors where Australia’s most popular EV excels including:

Furthermore, unlike most cars which are the best they will ever be the day they are driven off the dealership lot, the Model 3 continually improves via mostly free over-the-air (OTA) software updates.

Does this mean that a Model 3 or a Tesla for that matter is the right EV or even the right car for everyone and for every situation? No, of course not, but it’s hard to deny that it presents a very compelling proposition and once Full Self-Driving (FSD) becomes a reality in the not-too-distant future, driving anything other than a Tesla may as Elon Musk explained feel like riding a horse. Furthermore, with there being no end in sight to the volatility in fuel prices Elon may have also have been right when he said that it would be “financially insane to buy anything other than a Tesla”.

(This article was first published on 26th of March. It was edited on 29th of March with the only change made being the insertion of the paragraph above the saving table relating to the fuel excise cut.)

Pete Petrovsky is an active TOCWA (Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia) committee member and a long-time EV enthusiast. He placed a $6,000 deposit for a Model X (#39) in 2014 but when it came to taking delivery he couldn’t justify the cost, so instead, he and his wife decided to buy two PHEVs and wait for the Model 3. In March of 2016 they bought the Holden Volt and a couple of weeks later the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and on the day it was unveiled, Pete ordered the Model 3. After selling the Outlander, in September 2019, Pete received his long awaited first Tesla, a Model 3 Performance. Despite still loving their Volt, Pete and his wife took delivery of their second Model 3 in December 2021. In his spare time, Pete also runs the ‘Tesla Ahead of the Curve’ YouTube channel and is also a long-term Tesla shareholder.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting Your Tesla

(Essential reading for new owners and a handy review for existing Tesla drivers.) Written by Pete Petrovsky

If this is your first EV or first Tesla, congratulations on taking the first step towards helping to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy with a car that is completely changing the entire automotive industry for the better. You’ll be glad to know you’ve ordered the world’s safest car, which is an absolute pleasure to own and drive and you can wave Goodbye to petrol station visits and most servicing. Did you know Tesla doesn’t have a mandated service schedule? That said, there are a couple of recommendations. How much will servicing your Tesla set you back? In Australia, the Tesla recommended servicing and maintenance will cost $111 in the first three years compared to $1,725 or about 15 times as much for an average Australian internal combustion engine vehicle over the same 3-year period. But that’s just where the savings begin. Did you know that even if petrol was free, you would still be better off with a Tesla? To find out how far ahead you can expect to be after three years see: https://www.tocwa.org.au/2021/11/26/tesla-model-3-economics-compared-to-an-average-australian-petrol-car/

With all that enjoyable, safe and low-cost motoring to look forward to, you’re no doubt eager to hit the road, but perhaps you’re wondering whether you know everything you should before jumping behind the wheel of your shiny new Tesla. While I aimed to be comprehensive, the following should not be considered an exhaustive list of everything there is to know about owning an EV, but hopefully it should make for a good and informative start.

Paying For Your New Tesla

There have been a couple of instances in Australia where reservation holders had their email accounts hacked and consequently, while under the impression they were transferring their funds to Tesla, instead, they were unknowingly making the transfer to a scammer. I believe Tesla has now put in place various measures such as using your car’s VIN number as the account number but a good tip is to first transfer a negligibly small amount and check with Tesla that they received your funds and then use the exact same account details to transfer the balance. This is the method I used for our first Tesla in September 2019 and it worked well, however, with there now being a considerable backlog, you’ll need to allow enough time to ensure you are ready to take delivery as soon as your car is ready, otherwise you may run the risk of being pushed back in the queue as your car may be reassigned to the next reservation holder for that model car and trim. Please note, if you’re financing your Tesla and your bank or other loan provider is making the transfer for you this may not be an issue, but if you are going to be transferring the balance owing on your car yourself it pays to be cautious as you may not get a second chance.

Insurance

You’ll want to ensure you take out comprehensive car insurance before driving your new Tesla for the first time. There are numerous variables that go into determining insurance premiums including the insured value, the excess, where and how the car is parked, your driving history, your demographics, the age of the youngest driver, your no claims bonus, personal versus business use, how much you expect to drive the car as well as optional extras such as a hire car and so on. It’s important you take these and any other relevant factors into account when arranging your car insurance. In terms of who are the most Tesla and EV friendly insurers in Australia, TOCWA members report the lowest premiums from RACWA and Budget Direct ranging between approximately $900 a year or lower to about $2,000 a year or more for a Model 3, but please do shop around as far and wide as you feel appropriate and please let us know if you happen to find better like-for-like rates with another insurer.

Vehicle Delivery

Before picking up your car I recommend that you download the Tesla app here: https://www.tesla.com/en_AU/support/tesla-app and set up an account. Tesla may have already let you know that the delivery experience will be fairly fast, possibly as short as 5-15 minutes. You may therefore want to consider reaching out to an experienced Tesla owner to run you through the controls and settings before you drive off for the first time. Alternatively please see this video about how to best set up your new Tesla I generally recommend setting the car up with the following options turned on:

  • ◦ Lights – Auto
  •  ◦ Auto High Beams – Off
  •  ◦ Windscreen wipers – Auto
  •  ◦ Regenerative Braking – Standard
  •  ◦ Stopping Mode – Hold
  •  ◦ Charging – 90% for cars with NCA batteries or 100% for cars with LFP batteries
  •  ◦ Autopilot
  •  ◦ Set speed – Current Speed
  •  ◦ Automatic Blind Spot Camera – Enabled
  •  ◦ Blind Spot Collision Warning Chime – Enabled
  •  ◦ Forward Collision Warning – Early
  •  ◦ Lane Departure Assistance – Assist
  •  ◦ Emergency Lane Departure Avoidance – Enabled
  •  ◦ Automatic Emergency Braking – Enabled
  •  ◦ Obstacle Aware Acceleration – Enabled
  •  ◦ Traffic Aware Cruise Control Chime – Enabled
  •  ◦ Green Traffic Light Chime – Enabled
  •  ◦ Walk-Away Door Lock – Enabled
  •  ◦ Driver Door Unlock Mode – Enabled
  •  ◦ Car Left Open Notifications – Enabled
  •  ◦ Lock Confirmation Sound – Enabled
  •  ◦ Close Windows on Lock – Enabled
  •  ◦ Auto High Beam – Off
  •  ◦ Display – Auto
  •  ◦ Brightness – Auto
  •  ◦ Trips – Rename the last trip meter to: “Lifetime – Do Not Reset!”
  •  ◦ Trips – Rename the second last trip meter to “New Tires”
  •  ◦ Trip Planner – Enabled
  •  ◦ Online Routing – Enabled
  •  ◦ Sentry Mode – On (Remember to turn back on after a software update.)
  •  ◦ Dashcam – Auto and On Honk (Remember to turn back on after a software update.)
  •  ◦ PIN to Drive – Enabled
  •  ◦ Glovebox PIN – Enabled
  •  ◦ Cabin Overheat Protection – On (Please note this will be automatically disabled when the battery state of charge drops below 20%)
  •  ◦ Software Update Preference – Advanced

TOCWA

At any time, but ideally prior to taking delivery of your vehicle, I would encourage you to become a TOCWA (Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia) member. TOCWA is the officially sanctioned Tesla club for WA and a not-for-profit volunteer-run group facilitating communication, advocacy and community for Tesla Owners and reservation holders within WA. 

TOCWA is always willing to help anyone considering buying an EV but for best value I would urge you to become TOCWA member as the cost is just $20 a year and I’d be surprised if you don’t get this back several times over. Firstly, as a member you will be invited to join the weekly ‘Ask Us Anything’ Zoom call run by the Club Secretary where you’ll get the opportunity to have your questions answered by veteran Tesla owners with years of invaluable experience. The Club Secretary and Chairman who are among some of the first Tesla owners in Australia, have driven well over 200,000 kilometres in each of their Teslas around WA as well as on trips across or around Australia and they and many other members are always happy to share their years of experience. You’ll also be invited to monthly in person Casual Meet Ups and many other events as well as being able to borrow charging equipment, spare tyres for long road trips and other equipment at no cost. You will also be able to purchase some chargers and other accessories at substantially discounted prices. Being a not-for-profit organisation, the club is able to buy in bulk or at wholesale prices and offer the items to members at no mark-up. For example, the club sells the Khons Kwik charger to financial members at $750. the cheapest price I’ve seen on the internet is $1,280. For full disclosure, I am a proud TOCWA committee member. To join the club please visit: https://www.tocwa.org.au/membership-join/

Synergy EV Home Plan

Once you’ve taken delivery of your Tesla, I recommend signing up for Synergy’s EV tariff ‘trial’. If you’re still on the Synergy A1 tariff your electricity rates won’t change apart from between the hours of 11PM to 4AM during which time your tariff will drop by about 30% from currently 29.3273 cents to 20.4651 cents. Whether you charge your car during this time or not, the tariff applies to your entire home’s electricity draw. If you are on any tariff other than A1, please give me a call to determine the best course of action. 

In order to qualify for the Synergy EV Home Plan, you’ll need to provide proof of ownership but the car cannot be registered in a business name. To find out more see: 

https://www.synergy.net.au/Your-home/Energy-plans/Electric-Vehicle-Home-Plan

Plugshare and Charger Network Apps

A must for all EV owners is the Plugshare App which lists most if not all EV chargers available to the public in Australia and around the world. The browser based version can be found here: www.plugshare.com and these are the Apple iOS and the Google Android versions.

An alternative is A Better Route Planner which can be found here: https://abetterrouteplanner.com/ and these are the Apple iOS and the Google Android versions of the app.

You may also wish to download the following EV charging network apps and set up an account and a payment method such as a credit or debit card so that when you arrive at one of these chargers you can plug and charge without stress or wasting time worrying about setting up an account.

Apple iOSGoogle AndroidWebsite
ChargefoxChargefoxChargefox
SmartchargeSmartchargeSmartcharge
ChargePointChargePointChargePoint
NextchargeNextchargeNextcharge

Chargers, Cables and Adaptors

To begin with, you should know that your Tesla will come with an included UMC (Universal Mobile Connector) which will work on a standard 10A home powerpoint. It will also come with a 15A adapter also known as a “pig tail” and you can also purchase other after-market tails such as the 32A, 5-pin, 3-phase one, which among many other places, can be found here: https://www.evseadapters.com/products/australia-32a-5-pin-adapter-for-tesla-gen-2/ or https://braumach.com.au/products/tesla-model-3-y-20a-gen-2-mobile-charger-cable-adapter-2017-22-aust-stock?

For a faster, permanently wired and wall-mounted home charging solution, you can consider the Tesla HPWC (High Power Wall Connector) https://www.tesla.com/en_AU/support/home-charging-installation/wall-connector The HPWC is very reasonably priced but the installation pricing from the installers listed on the Tesla website is in my opinion exorbitant. If you require an installer, or if you’d like to discuss other charging options please feel free to contact me and I’ll try to put you in touch with a reasonably priced installer in your area.

For charging at untethered public AC chargers you will require a Type 2 (a.k.a. Mennekes) EV cable which can be purchased from TOCWA or others such as https://evse.com.au/product/7-metre-type-2-to-type-2-ev-charging-cable-22kw/ Please note, these cables can come in various configurations. I recommend the 22kW 7-metre version. Although a 5-metre cable is considerably cheaper, it’s not uncommon to find yourself “ICED” which is where the EV charging bay is blocked by an ignorant or inconsiderate driver of an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. In these situations, the 7-metre cable should be long enough to reach an adjacent parking bay.  

For more great information about charging your Tesla please see the following article: https://www.tocwa.org.au/advice/charging/

Accessories

If you’re interested in buying accessories for your new Tesla, I highly recommend attending the TOCWA Ask Us Anything Zoom call and speaking to the existing Tesla owners first. In terms of vendors, this is the link to the official Australian online Tesla store: hhttps://shop.tesla.com/en_au There are also now many third-party vendors. The two main Australian sites are: https://tesloz.com.au/ and https://tessories.com.au/ but you can also explore Amazon and many other online shopping sites.

EV Knowledge

As a new EV owner there will be some new information you’ll want to take on board, including charger knowledge, public charging etiquette, and lots of Pro Tips that you will find helpful. As a minimum, it’s good to know about the ‘ABCs’:

  1. Always Be Courteous

Electric vehicles are a disruptive technology and although it’s becoming rare, you may come across some people whose livelihoods or whose identity may be threatened by the rapid shift to sustainable transport. You may also find yourself ICED or there may be other situations where you’ll be tempted to let the person know exactly what you think, however, it is always best to remain calm, respectful and courteous and if all else fails it may be best to prevent any escalation and walk away. Please also remember that being an EV owner and/or driver you’re representing other EV owners and/or drivers.

  • Always Be Charging

Owning an EV is in many ways similar to owning a smartphone. There’s nothing worse than a dead phone and although it’s very rare for a Tesla to ever run out of charge you don’t want to find yourself in that situation so it’s a good idea to plan your longer journeys around charging points and to always have a contingency plan because you could get to a charger only to find it’s not working or taken up by another EV.  

Although this is changing at a fast pace, you will soon learn that with Teslas still being a relative novelty, it’s not uncommon to be stopped by a curious member of the public who is fascinated by your Tesla and is eager to ask you about your experience. (The most common questions are: How long does it take to charge? What’s the range? Do you have to pay for the charging? How long will the battery last before it needs replacing?) It’s great to spend some time answering these questions but a good pro tip is to ask the person to wait one second while you plug your car in and ensure its charging. That way your car can be filling up with electrons while you talk, rather than finding yourself engrossed in the conversation only to realise you could have been charging for the last twenty minutes.

  • Always Bring Cables

As already mentioned, your Tesla will come with an included Universal Mobile Connector (UMC). If you’re using the UMC as the means of charging your Tesla at home, it can be inconvenient to wrap it up and take it with you each time and it’s easy to forget too, therefore, Tesla recommends the Tesla high Power Wall Connector (HPWC) but there are also other options. That way you’ll be able to always keep the UMC in one of the three convenient storage spaces of your car, either under the bonnet in the ‘trunk’ or in the well under your main boot or in the boot itself. Should you find yourself in a situation where you need to charge you’ll have a cable ready to plug into any 10A or 15A power socket or a 32A 3-phase outlet if you bought the additional adaptor pig tail. For a faster and more convenient charge, there are an increasing amount of Type 2 (a.k.a. Mennekes) AC chargers at shopping centres, fast food outlets and other locations and many of these are untethered requiring a BYO Type 2 cable. You may also choose to carry a 10A or 15A extensions cable.

  • Always Browse Comments

As already mentioned, the Plugshare app should be considered a must for any EV owner. One of its numerous handy features is to see if a charger is being used before planning to charge there, but It’s also a good idea to take note of the last successful charge and to read any comments that the person may have written. It may also pay to check the opening hours of the charger as some may be located behind gates that may be locked outside of opening hours. Some chargers such as those located at car dealerships may be reserved for the dealership during opening hours and kindly made available to the public afterhours. Using these chargers outside the public times may result in the owner making the charger unavailable to the public.

  • Adjust Battery Consumption

As already mentioned, it is very rare to find a Tesla run out of charge, however, should you find yourself in this situation, if you haven’t done so already, ensure you have set your destination in the car’s navigation system and follow any of the car’s warnings.

Another very good option may be to reduce your speed. You’ll be amazed just how much of a difference a drop in speed of 10km per hour can make. As a rough rule of thumb, it could reduce your consumption by about 10%.

You could also try to use the air-conditioning system or the fan instead of open windows or to use seat warmers rather than the heater in winter.

You may also consider increasing the pressure in your tires by pumping them up to say 45 PSI but only do so if it’s safe and always ensure you keep your tires below the maximum recommended limit.

Public Charging Etiquette

Last but certainly not least, a few things about public charging etiquette. It’s important to realise that an EV charging bay is exactly that. It shouldn’t be confused with a parking bay. Think how you would feel to arrive at a charger with a low state of charge in desperate need of a top up only to realise the charger is being taken up for hours by an inconsiderate EV owner who may have reached a full charge some time ago or worse still who hasn’t needed to even plug in. Furthermore, the Tesla Superchargers are now charging idle fees at a rate of $1 per minute, particularly when half or more of the stall are being used, so treating a public charger as a parking bay may prove expensive.

As the table below illustrates, the fastest charging rates can be achieved between approximately 10% and 65% state-of-charge but for more tips on the best and most efficient way to charge at a fast DC charger or a Tesla Supercharger, please see this article: 100% a Waste of Time: Why charging to 100% is defeating the purpose of Superchargers

 It may also be helpful to log into the Plugshare app to register your charging session so that others intending to charge at that location can plan their journey accordingly. Logging your charging session into Plugshare is by no means compulsory, especially at a busy metropolitan chargers but it may be particularly helpful at remote locations. Another useful alternative may be the Need to Charge service.

It’s also important to realise that there is no such thing as a ‘free’ charger, there are only complimentary chargers. This is an important distinction, because many businesses who have agreed to host EV chargers, (some after numerous pleas by EV enthusiasts), have done so in good faith for little if any monetary reward. If a business, agrees to host, service, maintain and cover the electricity consumption costs, not to mention the capital costs associated with procuring, purchasing and/or installing and commissioning the EV charger, the least we can do is to buy something at the business. It also goes a long way to explicitly thank the establishment for signalling and hosting the charger and it doesn’t hurt to leave a tip either. There are also some chargers such as the Biofil units running on used chip oil which require the manual starting of a generator, such as those put in with the help of Jon Edwards and the crowdfunding from the WA EV community at the Caltex service station in Jurien Bay or the Roadhouse in Caiguna. It may be worthwhile giving the business a call beforehand to let them know of your expected arrival time. Unless there are other EVs waiting for a turn, once charging, it’s advisable to charge for at least 20 minutes or so before the attendant has to return and turn off and pack up the charger. If you can’t charge for at least 15 minutes or so, please offer to pay for a full charging session as it can be annoying for the attendant to have to leave paying customers to come out to turn the generator on for you only to have to come back a couple of minutes later to turn it off to recoup a couple of measly dollars.

Lastly, a tip for new owners. If you’ve noticed your car only has a single reversing light, don’t worry there’s nothing wrong, the car only comes with one white reversing light on the left as the right one is a fog light. Hopefully this will save you a phone call to Tesla as they get a few of these every day. Update: Soon after this article was published Tesla began shipping Model 3s with two reversing lights. Therefore, there will now be some models delivered around the end of February or early March 2022 with a single reversing light but the later models will have two reversing lamps as well as bigger indicators. (By the way, some very early Model S cars also came with just one reversing light.) 

For further information please see: https://www.tesla.com/en_AU/support/after-taking-delivery and if you get stuck you can reach out by calling the TOCWA helpline on 6262 3131.

Pete Petrovsky

Pete Petrovsky is an active TOCWA (Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia) committee member and a long-time EV enthusiast. He placed a $6,000 deposit for a Model X (#39) in 2014 but when it came to taking delivery he couldn’t justify the cost, so instead, he and his wife decided to buy two PHEVs and wait for the Model 3. In March of 2016 they bought the Holden Volt and a couple of weeks later the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and on the day it was unveiled, Pete ordered the Model 3. After selling the Outlander, in September 2019, Pete took delivery of the Model 3 and despite still loving their Volt, Pete and his wife are now looking forward to ordering the Model Y as soon as it becomes available in Australia.

When he gets time, Pete posts videos on his ‘Tesla Ahead of the Curve’ YouTube channel. He is a long-term Tesla shareholder and over the last eleven years has been responsible for more commercial rooftop solar PV in Perth than any other individual. In 2016 Pete added grid electricity to his role and since October 2020 he has been Managing Director of Imppact Energy Consultancy. In July of 2011, Pete also installed one of the first ‘oversized’ 6KW solar PV systems in Perth, which to this day continues to power their home and both EVs with free sustainable energy.

Glass in Cars

Written by Nigel Farrier

There has been a lot of discussion going around about how the glass roofs on cars cause the car to get too hot making the air conditioning useless. Also people wonder about getting sunburnt through the glass roof.

As a (retired) medical practitioner as a skin cancer specialist and a scientist I can answer all these questions and more.

1 Ultraviolet light.

Lets first discuss UV radiation. There are basically 3 types of UV – UVA, UVB and UVC. The latter is the most damaging of all. UV light is one the electromagnetic spectrum with shorter wavelengths than visible light. UVA is the closest to visible light.

Fortunately UVC, whilst being the most damaging, is completely absorbed by the atmosphere so none ever reaches our skin. UVB is the middle group and is the one that causes sunburn. UVA has the longer wavelength and is assocaited with skin aging.

So what about glass? Remember that not all glass is equal so this is a generalisation. Glass is designed to let light through so UVA, being closest to the visible spectrum, can penetrate glass but only about 60% actually gets through. Fortunately UVB is totally absorbed by glass.

Glass fitted to the front windscreen of cars lets through UVA as above. A lot of side windows are slightly tinted in modern cars so a much larger proportion of the UVA is absorbed. Roof glass, certainly on the Teslas, is coated with a variety of filters that blocks most of the UV light. According to Tesla the roof absorbs at least 99% of all UV radiation. So it will not cause sunburn and little to no skin aging. You would have to sit in your car in bright sunshine constantly for at least 100 days to get the same UV dose as standing out in the sun for 1 day. Quite insignificant.

2 Infrared light.

At the other end of the visible spectrum is red and beyond that infrared and just as UV is divided into 3 bands so is infrared. Unfortunately is is not named as easily as UV but near, middle and far infrared. Near IR is the closest to visible red.

So does IR get through glass? Well once agin the answer is that depends. IR is a form of light, not heat. The heat is transferred by molecules vibrating.

So as before the near IR wavelengths are let through by glass as they are closest to the visible bands. The energy from near IR is too large to excite atoms in molecules from vibrating.

The middle band of IR is often referred to as thermal IR. This band will cause molecules to vibrate and ‘heat’ up (actually generate heat). This radiation is strongly absorbed by matter (glass in this case) so does not get through. But it will heat up the glass. Far IR is the same although has a lower energy state.

The glass on Tesla motor vehicle roofs has several coatings to absorb a lot of this energy before it enters the cabin. As already stated virtually no UV gets into the cabin and the IR is absorbed by the coatings and the glass in the roof. This does cause it to heat up which can then radiate that heat into the cabin (and out into the atmosphere as well).

As an interesting experiment try using an infrared camera to look at items through a glass window. You wont get a very clear picture at all even with the IR LEDs that a lot of security cameras have.

So there we have it. Certainly do not panic about the UV radiation through the glass roof. With regard to the infrared yes it will slowly heat up the glass and then the interior of the car. So does a metal roof. It heats up in the sun and radiates the heat into the car and the car heats up.

So what can we do to prevent this? Most people rush out and buy shades for the roof, put on tinting and so on. Lets cover these ‘solutions’.

Window tinting – from an aesthetic point of view a lot of people really like tinted windows and I can understand that. But it does not make much difference to the IR heating up the windows which then gets radiated into the cabin. It also make ZERO difference to the amount of UV getting in in modern cars. If you want window tinting that’s fine. Do it.

Roof tinting – there was some problems in the early days of putting the tinting on the inside of the roof causing the roof glass to crack. That may have been solved now but personally I am still hesitant about putting tinting on the inside. The glass roof still gets hot.

There is a ceramic coating that can reflect some of the IR light and this is put on the outside and probably helps a bit but it needs to be replaced after some years.

The Tesla glass roof already has at least 3 layers of coating on it to prevent a lot of the problems (hence the problem that some people think the roof is rusting due to an orange hue it got).

Inside roof shades – these are similar to the windscreen shades that a lot of people use. They still dont stop the roof glass from getting hot and several makes actually impede the view from the rear windscreen as they hang down at the back.

What is the answer then? Here are my tips for an enjoyable experience in your Tesla.

Firstly leave the air conditioning on when you leave the car in the sun. You have almost certainly used it whilst driving to where ever you needed to go so it has already done its job of cooling down the interior. For it to keep the interior at that temperature it will use less energy to maintain it than it does to get it down to that temperature.

This is a really great idea if you are parked up at a charger and plugged in as the power from the charger is used to keep the car cool rather than the battery pack providing you are not plugged in to a 10amp socket as the air conditioning may need more power than that can provide so some battery use may happen.

If you are leaving your vehicle parked always try and put it in the shade with or without leaving the air conditioning running,

If you are leaving your vehicle parked for quite a while (and its in the shade) you can leave the air conditioning set to keep the cabin below about 40 degrees C using the cabin overheat protection mode.

Still dont want to do any of this? Why not just turn on the air conditioning from your Tesla app on your phone giving it enough time to cool the cabin for your arrival?

None of these will work once the battery state of charge falls to below 20% (neither will sentry mode).

Whilst on this subject of air conditioning I would also like to cover some of the misunderstandings regarding what is in a Tesla. I must admit for the first few months of ownership I was convinced the air con was not very good until I found out a few things (such as leave it running).

During the hot weather I have mine set at about 22.5 deg C and on AUTO (experiment to find your own preferred settings). It works fine. You wont feel a blast of cold air on your face as in other vehicles as they have small outlets that can be directed at your face. Teslas don’t do that. You can direct the vents towards you but you wont feel it and this is why a lot of people say the air con is useless. Its not. The cabin gets down to its temperature very efficiently and the fan (when on auto) slows down.

I leave mine set to auto and let the car take care of the interior itself. You have just been used to something different and therefore feel its not as good. It is.

In summary then. You wont get sunburnt from the UV. The roof glass will get hot so don’t keep touching it. Try touching the metal roof of any car that is out in the sun. You will burn your hand just the same. Tint the windows if you want to for aesthetic reasons (and it may decrease slightly the UVA getting in through the side windows). Before you go out and spend a lot of money of roof tinting, shades etc before you have taken delivery (I know several people that do this) just try it out first.

I sit with my completely bald head only 2 inches from the roof and even in the 40 degree heat we get here I do not feel the need for anything except my cars air con.

Explaining the Nullarbor EV Chargers

As you may have seen in recent news retired engineer Jon Edwards has designed, built and installed a Biofil DC charger at Caiguna on the Western side of the 1200km drive between Ceduna and Norseman, this provides a handy boost for the adventurous EV owners crossing the Nullarbor when border openings allow. Before I continue let’s make one thing very clear, you’re under no obligation to drive across the Nullarbor, commercial air travel is faster, safer and probably cheaper, but as Ferris said “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it”.

Below I’ll discuss the charging available at the locations that are spaced evenly apart.

Before attempting to drive an EV across this part of Australia remember that Plugshare is the only app with the accuracy to plan charging stops, also don’t rely on apps to predict your energy consumption and arrival times, the road surface and wind direction plays a major part in how far you’ll get on a charge, play it safe and always plan to arrive with at least 30kms of range remaining. If you wisely plan your daytime and overnight charging stops the less time you’ll spend topping up the batteries.

Balladonia 22kw CCS2 DC charger

Departing Norseman and driving East the first well spaced charging stop is at the Balladonia Roadhouse, 190kms from Norseman, which has a 22kw CCS2 DC charger plugged into the 32amp 3 phase outlet. Compared to the latest 250-350kw DC chargers popping up close to Australia’s populated areas 22kw appears prehistoric, but in reality they’re a pretty handy short term solution that doubles the charging speed a model 3 can get from the existing 3 phase outlet and better still triple the charging speed available to a Hyundai Kona.

Caiguna, 181kms drive from Balladonia, has a 50kw DC charger powered by a Biofil generator, politely ask the counter staff to start the charger then go and enjoy the air conditioned Cafe.

Madura 22kw CCS2 DC charger

Madura, 157kms drive from Caiguna, has a 22kw DC charger plugged into the 32amp 3 phase outlet, payment is a donation to the Royal Flying Doctor Service tin located in the dining area.

Eucla, this location is 182kms east of Madura, charging is via a 32amp 3 phase outlet in the Laundry of the Eucla Motor Hotel. Be aware that this outlet is not available between 9.00am and 3.00pm, if you expect to arrive at this time maybe use the Border Village charge point, 12kms to the East.

Nullarbor Roadhouse 32amp 3 phase

Nullarbor Roadhouse, 197kms drive from Eucla, has a 32amp 3 phase at the rear of the building close to the motel units.

Penong Caravan Park, 223kms east of the Nullarbor Roadhouse, has a 32amp 3 phase (it has been prone to tripping at 28amps so plan accordingly). Penong is part of the South Australian grid so is likely to get a reasonable speed DC charger before too long.

Cocklebiddy, Mundrabilla and Border Village also have handy 32amp 3 phase outlets if you want to shorten the driving distances between charge sessions or wish to try different accommodation on the return journey.

December Casual Meetup – Good Company

Our next casual meetup is Sunday 5 December 2021 at 11:00am at:

Good Company Bar, West Deck, Karryinyup Shopping Centre

https://www.goodcompanybar.com.au/

Casual meetups are open to everyone including those who have never seen a Tesla before.

It’s an ideal opportunity to meet club members and to see the cars in the flesh which we are all passionate about.

It’s also a great way for new owners to learn more about their cars and to share in the vast pool of knowledge gained by other members.

We hope to see you there and look forward to chatting about all things Tesla.

Tesla Model 3 Economics Compared to an Average Australian Petrol Car

Pete Petrovsky 26 Nov 2021

One of the comments that gets the most eyebrow-raising reactions when talking about Tesla cars, is the fact that, for most owners, a Model 3 works out considerably cheaper than an average Australian car. Although some people are beginning to understand that an electric vehicle (EV) is less expensive to run than an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle equivalent, it’s hard to come across a non-EV owner who isn’t surprised to learn that, if all major costs associated with owning a car are included, a Model 3 Rear Wheel Drive (formerly known as the Standard Range Plus) works out thousands of dollars cheaper over just a short three-year period of ownership.

I like to explain this with a second-person hypothetical. Let’s assume that you decide to buy a Model 3 Rear Wheel Drive (RWD) today and your neighbour also buys a vehicle on the same day, but instead they choose an average Australian car, something along the lines of an average Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen, Nissan, Subaru, Honda or similar. The longer the ownership period the more favourable the outcome for the Model 3, and even thought the average Australian car is more than 10 and a half years old, let’s assume that both you and your neighbour sell your cars after just three years. If we take into account all significant costs, including the upfront drive away cost, a.k.a. the sticker price, and if we include depreciation, fuel costs, maintenance, insurance as well as registration and licencing fees, after all is said and done, you will be left with almost $14,000 more in your bank account than your neighbour who bought the average Australian petrol or diesel car. That’s a substantial amount of money, it’s enough to buy a second new car. Many people are either astounded by this or they simply don’t believe the figures. I have therefore provided a summary table of my calculations, below.

Tesla Model 3 RWD versus average ICE car total cost of ownership table

As with all calculations, the devil is often in the detail and assumptions can make or break even the most robust models. Where possible, I have therefore, tried to only use robust figures from reputable sources which I can readily substantiate. For example, as the Model 3 has only been in Australia for a little over two years and with the current resale values being elevated by unique market dynamics stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic, I have based the depreciation rates on the iSeeCars.com study which analysed 5.7 million new cars bought in the united states between January and June of 2017 and 1.2 million cars from the same model year sold between January and June in 2020. I have tested the model to the sensitivity of the inputs and, interestingly, even if we were to halve the depreciation rate used for the Model 3, while keeping the depreciation rate for the average ICE car unchanged, the Tesla would still come out more than $7,000 ahead.

I have also used Australian unleaded petrol prices averaged over a 10-year period from 2011 to 2020 inclusive, however, rather than using average Australian electricity prices for the same period, I have simply used the latest (and also the highest) average Australian tariffs even though, as most electric vehicle owners know, there are several EV friendly tariff plans available to EV owners. Furthermore, as is the case with many EV owners, the cars can be charged using electricity produced by solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Once the solar PV system has paid for itself, it can effectively provide free electricity for its owners who mostly either charge at home or at convenient destination chargers such as those located in shopping centres which are generally complimentary. It is, therefore, not impossible to fuel an EV at virtually zero cost.

For the servicing and maintenance costs, I have used prices sourced directly from Tesla, but I have used average logbook service costs which include capped-price service schemes as well as prices taken from lower-cost third-party service centres. For more information, please see the video below which reveals that the Model 3 costs about a third as much to service over a 5-year period than the cost of a single service for an average Australian car. In other words, it costs less to service the Model 3 over a three-year period than an average Australian internal combustion engine (ICE) car over six months.

Although, I have been conservative with the inputs in the calculations, with the Model 3 RWD (nee SR+) starting at a drive-away price of $63,626 as an average across all the states in Australia, versus approximately $40,912 for an average new Australian car, one could argue the analysis ignores the additional finance costs. As the table below shows, however, even after factoring in finance costs, the Model 3 still comes in $12,617 ahead of an average Australian internal combustion engine car.

Total cost of ownership comparison table

Whether it’s $12,617 or $13,679, either way, it is a relatively large sum of money, as I have mentioned, it’s enough to pay for a second new car, but amazingly this is not where the savings stop. You may have noticed, there is one category, namely insurance, where the Model 3 is more expensive. That said, while insuring a Tesla may be more expensive in absolute terms, mainly due to the higher car value, personally, I have found the premiums cheaper relative to the insured value of the vehicle and the Australian average figures seem to be roughly on par in this respect with the annual premiums accounting for between 3–4% of both of the cars’ drive-away price.

Interestingly, however, this is one of the areas where Tesla continues to innovate. Two years ago, Tesla introduced its own insurance product in California, named Tesla Insurance. As Tesla begins to slowly roll out the product across other US states, the company is pairing the policies with its Safety Score telematics which, as the name suggests, provide the driver with a safety score based on their driving behaviour which is designed to statistically predict the likelihood of a future collision. Tesla bases the monthly insurance premiums on each driver’s Safety Score, and as the score changes the insurance premiums also change from month to month. Tesla calls this Real-Time Insurance. Naturally, the higher the safety score the lower the premiums. For example, there can be more than a 56% premium discount based on a 98% versus an 88% Safety Score. It remains to be seen when Tesla introduces the Safety Score to Australia or when Tesla enters the Australian car insurance market but when it does it will make the economics of the Model 3 even more compelling not only for new owners but also for existing ones.

The only other area where a Tesla Model 3 is more expensive than an average internal combustion engine or ICE car is the upfront cost or the sticker price. This is where state and federal governments should play their part, it’s crazy that we’re still subsidising fossil fuels while taxing electric vehicles.

Model 3 RWD on-road taxes, fees and chargers by state in Australia

That said, Tesla is working on a US$25,000 model commonly referred to as the ‘Model 2’ but Elon Musk has already confirmed this won’t be the car’s name, perhaps it may end up being named the ‘Model A’. Once it is unveiled and when it eventually goes on sale in Australia, it may retail below or roughly at around the price of an average petrol or diesel car thereby not only putting the economics of an entry-level Tesla even further beyond any question, but it will inevitably become the final death blow to the internal combustion engine as a means of powering a daily commuter.

It is fairly amazing that the Model 3 has economics which are superior to an average Australian car because implicit is the assumption that the two are a like-for-like comparison when, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

The fact is that a Tesla Model 3 is superior to an average internal combustion engine vehicle in pretty much all aspects including:

Furthermore, unlike most cars which are the best they will ever be the day they are driven off the dealership lot, the Model 3 continually improves via mostly free over-the-air (OTA) software updates.

The impressive yet not exhaustive list below outlines just some of the additional features which have been added to my Model 3 since I bought it a little over two years ago:

  • a boost of approximately 5km more range,
  • approximately 5% more power,
  • single pedal driving,
  • dog mode,
  • camp mode,
  • side camera video feeds,
  • Netflix,
  • YouTube,
  • a long list of new voice commands including voice keyboard,
  • ability to have incoming SMS messages read out and the ability to dictate a response,
  • driving visualisation updates including displaying humans, stop signs, traffic lights and even objects such as traffic cones or witches hats, rubbish bins, traffic barriers and so on,
  • automatically save dashcam footage on honk,
  • ‘Caraoke’ and a raft of new video games,
  • driver profiles,
  • ability to adjust the charging rate via the app,
  • app customisation,
  • car-wash mode,
  • Smart Summon which enables the car to drive itself from up to 50–60 metres away in a car park,
  • and a raft of driver assistance and Autopilot improvements such as the ability to monitor the speed of traffic in surrounding lanes and, if required, overtake other cars. The car can also stop on traffic lights, stop signs, roundabouts and so on.

These are just some of the additional features added over the last 2 years, but it doesn’t stop there, as innovation and improvement seem to be a continual ongoing process at Tesla. There are many new exciting updates on their way including the Full Self-Driving (FSD) capability beta button, the Safety Score beta, the FSD subscription service, the ability to detect wet road conditions, remote live sentry view, in-car purchases and these are just some of the upcoming features we currently know about. I’m sure there are dozens of more improvements in the pipeline which we are yet to find out about.

Furthermore, this is just what I either happened to notice or read about in the software release notes, but the car has also been improving its already unmatched safety with undocumented updates like safer airbag deployments adjusting for occupants’ weight and seating position. In other words, the airbags now adjust when, how fast and in what direction they deploy depending on where on the seat the driver is sitting. The algorithm also considers the pressure distribution on the car seat to determine if the passenger is a baby, a toddler or an adult and it even tries to calculate the probability of a person’s gender.

In addition to the over-the-air updates, the cars are equipped with all the hardware necessary to enable full self-driving (FSD) in the not-too-distant future. One could argue that this makes the cars themselves but perhaps also the economics largely future proof. Perhaps this and the potential that FSD may one day be worth US$100,000 is an important factor contributing to the Model 3 showing a depreciation rate that is 25% lower than an average car.

Does this mean that a Model 3 or a Tesla for that matter is the right EV or even the right car for everyone and for every situation? No, of course not, but taking into account FSD improvements, in the majority of situations, the Model 3 and Model Y superiority, not only in economic terms but also in terms of both the quantitative and the qualitative value they offer their owners, makes one wonder if we haven’t already reached the point which Elon Musk referred to when he compared driving anything other than a Tesla to owning a horse or as he further elaborated, it is “financially insane to buy anything other than a Tesla”.

Pete Petrovsky

Pete Petrovsky is an active TOCWA (Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia) committee member and a long-time EV enthusiast. He placed a $6,000 deposit for a Model X (#39) in 2014 but when it came to taking delivery he couldn’t justify the cost, so instead, he and his wife decided to buy two PHEVs and wait for the Model 3. In March of 2016 they bought the Holden Volt and a couple of weeks later the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and on the day it was unveiled, Pete ordered the Model 3. After selling the Outlander, in September 2019, Pete took delivery of the Model 3 and despite still loving their Volt, Pete and his wife are now looking forward to ordering the Model Y as soon as it becomes available in Australia.

When he gets time, Pete posts videos on his ‘Tesla Ahead of the Curve’ YouTube channel. He is a long-term Tesla shareholder and over the last eleven years has been responsible for more commercial rooftop solar PV in Perth than any other individual. In 2016 Pete added grid electricity to his role and since October 2020 he has been Managing Director of Imppact Energy Consultancy. In July of 2011, Pete also installed one of the first ‘oversized’ 6KW solar PV systems in Perth, which to this day continues to power their home and both EVs with free sustainable energy.

TOCWA 2021 AGM

The Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia 2021 Annual General Meeting was held today at the Newport Hotel in Fremantle. The Committee was increased by 2 taking it to 9 through to the next AGM in late November 2022. Those Committee members are:

  • Nigel Farrier and Steve Rogers (Newly elected until November 2023)
  • Rob Dean, Martin Kane and Rodney Louden (re-elected until November 2023)
  • Andrew Harvey, Harald Murphy, Peter Petrovsky and Ken Taylor move into year two of their elected term that ends in November 2022.

In the 12 months up until today’s AGM TOCWA held 19 in person events organised directly by TOCWA plus attended at least 11 other events as guests. TOCWA Secretary Harald Murphy conducted 47 Ask Us Anything Zoom sessions on Wednesday evenings totalling over 150 hours of content.

The Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia increased its official membership to 377, up from 142 at the same time last year. This represents approximately 25% of Tesla owners in WA, the average across the 172 official Tesla Owners Club worldwide is 11%.

Thanks to those who attended.

If you would like to become a TOCWA member click here.