Their policy states that the State Government will “invest up to $20 million to support the creation of an electric vehicle charging infrastructure network facilitating travel north from Perth to Kununurra, along the south‑west coast to Esperance and east to Kalgoorlie.“
If you think that’s an overblown headline it’s best you read
on, the fact is I doubt there will ever be an electric vehicle charger
installed in WA that will have a bigger impact. It may only be a 50kw charger
but it’s going to power up more than just electric vehicles.
Most of the EV driving I’ve done has been in country areas, especially locations with limited charging options across every state and territory of Australia. Charging downtime using AC power provides a unique opportunity to discuss electric vehicles with the general public, many can’t tell the difference between an EV and a traditional vehicle until they see you plugging in to a power source, it then doesn’t take long for a conversation to start. No matter what some media outlets attempt to portray the general public are intrigued by electric vehicles, they may not know much about the technology but many Australian drivers are keen for their next vehicle to be electric, their biggest concern is almost always charging speeds on long journeys.
The Albany highway between Perth and Albany is possibly the busiest WA country road outside of the Perth to Margaret River corridor, at 415kms, most petrol or diesel vehicle drivers knock the trip off in 4 to 5 hours. Up until now an electric vehicle needed 450kms of real range to cover the same journey in a 4 to 5 hour time frame, the Albany highway is a fairly harsh surface that increases energy use, it’s also not a road that can be driven slowly. For the most part the highway contains 110kmh zones with insufficient overtaking lanes, anyone driving at less than 90kmh during the day will become a nuisance to other road users. For those adventurous types a 2 hour AC top up at Williams or Kojonup has been part of the bigger picture, for those looking at a transition from petrol to electric a two hour delay on a 4 hour trip is not acceptable and never will be, DC charging is the only solution. For the thousands of passenger vehicles that drive the Albany highway every week DC charging will bring a positive change in thinking.
I would confidentially guess that less than 10% of Western Australia’s electric vehicle drivers have even considered driving to Albany, this is mostly due to the lack of DC charging. Now that Kojonup DC is in place even a car with 350kms range will only require a 20-30 minute top up, expect to see many more electric vehicles travel the Albany highway during the Summer of 2020-21. This will eventually provide an incentive for other towns and businesses along the highway to install DC charging, very few like to take the lead but none wish to miss out.
I have no doubt that multiple locations along the Albany highway will have banks of DC chargers far more powerful than 50kw within the next 5 years, Kojonup DC will be the one that kick started it all.
Footnote: The Chargepod DC installed at Arthur River in mid 2019 was the instigator to getting the first grid connected DC charger along this major Perth to Albany route, thanks to the efforts of a community minded individual for making it possible.
On occasions you’ll plug into a destination charger that
doesn’t appear to work, a small number of these public chargers are becoming
unreliable mostly due to the cable getting mistreated, to add some confusion
the same charger will not work for one car and then work first time for the
following car on the same day, the Williams Woolshed destination charger is a
To make the Tesla experience a bit easier here are the steps to work through that will hopefully get a Tesla destination unit to charge:
If there’s no Green or Red light strip light on the front
check that power is switched on at the meter box, some premises keep it
switched off for various reason, this will be often noted on the Plugshare app.
If you’ve established that the unit is powered up but a Red
light is showing check that the cable is not twisted or stretched in any form,
also check the cable is not pulled out from the bottom of the charging unit,
that is you can see each individual colored cable rather than the black insulation.
Once the above steps are done locate the Red reset button on the side of the unit, using your thumb press it in and hold until all lights go off and wait until the Red/Orange light on the front turns Green, this will take between 5 and 30 seconds, if all goes to plan the Green light will start moving and the car will charge. If it doesn’t work the first time give it another go, also try unplugging and plugging back in before attempting a third reset, once again make sure the cable is not unduly stressed. If the charging doesn’t start after 4 resets the chances of it working at all on your car are very low.
If you do get charging started don’t rush off, hang around for a minute until the cars charging at full amps, if the unit has a fault it is likely to trip off within the first minute, if it does trip off it’s best to no longer attempt charging and report the issue. If you have no other choice and desperately need to charge try dropping the amps down via the cars touchscreen, keep in mind this is an absolute last resort. As an extra precaution if you walk away from the car to visit the shops or cafe check the phone app after 15 minutes, it’s very likely charging is still okay but there’s no harm making sure.
Following the success of our inaugural overnight road trip to Kulin in October, TOCWA is pleased to announce an extended long weekend road trip to Kalbarri between Friday 4th and Monday 7th December 2020.
To make the trip a more pleasurable experience, we will be deploying TOCWA’s “Shark-fin” 50kW Tritium fast DC charger in Geraldton so that all participants can rapidly charge their cars there as well as the existing fast DC charger in Jurien Bay.
In order to provide maximum flexibility for all owners interested in participating, we are providing a smorgasbord of six arrival and departure dates from Friday through to Monday. This means that participants can drive to and stay at Kalbarri for one, two or three nights.
Bookings are needed for each car travelling regardless of how many people are travelling in each car – so please only make one booking per car. Our Trybooking site is hopefully self-explanatory in the way it provides for any one of six travel options to be selected. When booking, please provide desired travel times there and back so we can develop an effective charging roster at Jurien Bay and Geraldton.
Members should have received a booking link – please get in touch if you still need it.
At this stage, we are aiming to limit car numbers to about 12, but this may change depending on how many cars intend to travel on each outbound and returning day combination.
If the majority of your driving is in the metro area PlugShare is a useful app but not essential, the moment you plan a longer trip away from the safety of home charging the Plugshare app becomes an important tool in reaching your destination with the minimum of fuss. Let me be very clear on this, PlugShare is the format used by the early adopters of electric vehicles in Western Australia while exploring the roads north, east and south of Perth, the information available is far superior to anything supplied by the RAC, Better Route Planner or any other system including the Tesla car maps. Don’t completely dismiss Better Route Planner or Tesla maps, but when cross referencing PlugShare is likely to be more up to date.
To get the best out of PlugShare try the following advice:
Remove all filters – If you have the filter options ticked there’s a good chance you’ll miss useful charging stations, there’s not a lot of location pins in regional WA so make sure every charging option is visible, trust your common sense to individually filter out the options available.
Be patient with the app – give PlugShare time to load correctly then zoom in and out of the location slowly until you’re sure all pins are visible.
Zoom in all the way – Often the better charging point is hidden by a less useful location due to the pins being so close together, the Lake Grace DC charger is a good example.
Always read comments – Not just the previous charging comments but the location comments, often the critical information can’t be seen unless the location comments are read to the end. Taking 2 minutes to read the comments correctly will likely save hours of wasted time.
Use the message option on PlugShare – if you’re not sure about a location message the previous user before departure.
Check through the photos – there’s some handy photos showing the exact location of the charge point, two minutes scanning photos will often save 15 minutes quizzing locals that may not even know a EV charger exists.
Always be charging – EV charging points in regional WA are few and far between, it doesn’t matter how confident you are that the next charging location is operational, if your car is happily charging at a reasonable rate don’t be in a hurry to unplug and dash to the next location, to do this is possibly setting yourself up to fail, at they end of the day you won’t get to your final destination any quicker, be patient and enjoy the journey.