Around Australia trips in a pure EV

DriverStart/End pointCompletion DateVehicle
1. Glen GeorgePerthNovember 2011MG converted Blue
2 Richard McNeallSydneySeptember 2016Tesla S Blue
3. Jeff JohnsonSydneyNovember 2016Nissan Leaf Blue
4. Sylvia WilsonGladstoneJuly 2018Tesla S Blue
5. Steve & Keita BurrellPerthAugust 2018Tesla S Titanium
6. Harald MurphyPerthNovember 2018Tesla X Titanium
7. Wiebe WakkerDarwin/SydneyMarch 2019VW converted Blue
8. Richard SmithDarwinApril 2019Tesla X White
9. Linda RohrsGold CoastJuly 2019Tesla S Blue
10. Rob & Robin DeanPerthNovember 2019Tesla S Blue
11. Peter HayesMelbourneDecember 2019Tesla 3 Silver
12. John PaulMelbourneMarch 2020Tesla 3 Red
13. Jules BoagSydneyMay 2021Tesla S White
14. Michelle & Terry ArzanikowBallaratJune 2021Tesla 3 White
15. 16. 17. Currently travelling 
Hilly Andy? Perth2021Tesla 3 Blue
Phil SmithCairns2021Tesla 3 Blue
David McLeodWarnambool2021Tesla S Blue

Jurien Bay DC charger critical instructions

Due to a redevelopment of the Jurien Bay foreshore the “plan B” 3 phase outlet has been removed making the 50kw DC charger at Caltex even more important for those looking for a short stop on the trip between Perth and Geraldton. There is a Tesla destination charger at the tourist park but this is limited to 3.6kw so is only useful for an overnight stop.

If Perth to Geraldton is only 410kms via the coastal road do I need to stop? In most cases, absolutely yes, due to the nature of the road surface and almost constant winds it’s near impossible to achieve reasonable energy efficiency, driving at slower speeds on this busy road and being a road hazard is not an option so it’s best to accept the inevitable and plan a 25 to 40 minute stop at Jurien Caltex while adding 20-40% back to the battery. 

The most critical aspects to using the Jurien Bay DC charger is to carefully read the operating instructions on Plugshare before arrival, patience is front and centre at this location, if you try and rush the process or miss a step you’ll just waste time. The Tritium DC charger is very reliable, the only time it’s failed to work is due to an issue with a handful of pre 2020 model X or S cars with a CCS2 upgrade or the operator rushing the start up process. If your Tesla is less than 24 months old, you should not have any issues with this charger.

A few tips:

Phone ahead your arrival time, Wade or Jarryd will make an effort to be on site as they know the process better than other staff members.

Make sure when the charger is unlocked both charging handles are firmly pushed into the holsters before and while the charger completes its 5 minute start up process.

Don’t arrive at this charger with less than 50kms of range, even though it’s so far been extremely reliable there is no longer a plan B in town, keep enough spare range to drive the 24kms to the Cervantes destination charger.

Don’t complain about the price, 70 cents per kWh and a $25 minimum may appear high but the Electric vehicle owner that spent tens of thousands of dollars installing the Jurien Bay unit will never see a return on investment.

Why 450 km of EV Range is Enough in Australia

Many of you will have seen the social media commentators claiming how much range an electric vehicle needs, it normally goes like this: “I’m all for electric vehicles and keen to buy one but unless it has X amount of range I’ll stick with my trusty diesel”. As each year passes and the range of showroom EVs increase the commentators X number also increases. This is Uncertainty 101 from those with the most to lose when the country transitions to electric drivetrains, it’s a very effective manipulation of all the fence sitters that are close to making a new car purchase.

To make this very clear when I say 450km of range I’m referring to passenger vehicles, not commercial vehicles such as heavy duty four wheel drives that were purchased with the sole purpose of towing a caravan or large trailer over long distances.  I’ll also make it very clear that 450kms is real range on coarse surface country roads sitting on 100km/h, this is where the range is needed most. Anyone buying a vehicle that never leaves the Melbourne to Cairns coastal corridor could easily survive on 350km of real range.

There’s no doubt that battery costs per kWh and energy density will improve sufficiently to make the fitting of large battery capacities fairly easy for vehicle makers That’s great for commercial vehicles but a waste of resources for the average Joe who for the vast majority of the year drives less than 200km per day and makes 2 to 3 long trips of maybe 2,000km,  having a battery pack 20kWh or even 30kWh bigger than necessary is careless, multiply that by millions of average Joes across Australia and it’s a significant drain on materials, labour and energy that could be better used elsewhere.

So how does 450km of range deal with the vast distances of Australia? That’s a fair question and the answer is straight forward, carefully placed DC fast chargers are a far better use of materials, labour and finances than millions of EVs full of oversized battery packs. The careful placement part is critical, between the capital cities and larger towns 220km average spacings are suitable, for regional areas in north, west and central Australia there’s far less choice of suitable sites so a 300km spacing may have to suffice. A reasonably organized driver should have no issue stopping every 300km to add around 65% charge on a long country trip.

The author currently drives an electric vehicle with 400km of real range on Australian outback roads, and has been to every State and Territory over the past 6 years. His last vehicle was a diesel 4WD with 1,100 km range, it is not missed.

Planning a long distance trip away from DC chargers

If you’re keen to drive you’re Tesla north of Geraldton or east past Merredin it can be done safely as long as you have patience and prepare correctly. If you treat the journey as an adventure you’ll enjoy the trip, treat it as a task that needs to be completed ASAP and you’ll wish you stayed at home.

What will you need to carry?

You don’t need a large variety of charging cables but you do need charging plans A, B and C.

  • Plan A is the Tesla destination chargers located around the state, so far most of these have been reliable and most also have a 5 pin three phase outlet nearby as a backup.
  • Plan B is a 3 phase mobile connector such as a juice booster or KHONS charging cable that plugs into the dozens of 3 phase 5 pin outlets located all over Western Australia, this will generally provide the same charging speed as a Tesla 3 phase destination charger. Unless you’re planning many long distance trips I suggest you borrow a KHONS cable from TOCWA, paying over $800 for a cable you may only use a handful of times is not good value.
  • Plan C is the UMC that is delivered with the car, it’s the one in the square black bag. You may never use this cable but you must carry it, if everything else fails this will get you home, slowly but eventually.

North of Geraldton and east of Kalgoorlie you’ll need a spare tyre, jack and associated equipment. Puncture repair kits are a handy plan B but won’t get you out of trouble if the tyre damage is severe, besides you don’t want to be hanging around some outback town for 3 days while a spare tyre gets transported in. Keep in mind the best way to reduce tyre issues on a long trip is depart home with plenty of tread depth. A spare tyre and wheel combo is available to loan from TOCWA.

The Plugshare app is critical, make sure all fields are open so you don’t miss any charging options. Before departing to the next charging location it’s important you read not just the  location details but also previous comments, this may well save you a lot of time and frustration on arrival. Don’t forget to log in and if necessary leave a tip for the following drivers, it’s a great way to support the EV community.

Charging tips.

At some stage in the future virtually all locations in Western Australia will have fast DC charging until then the following tips will make any trip far easier.

  • Charging from AC will provide the same power transfer and charging speed no matter the battery state of charge right up to approximately 97% so there’s no time saving in adding the bare minimum charge to get to the next location, this is where the saying “Always Be Charging” comes in, take the charge where its available, the next charge location may only be 200kms along the highway but if it doesn’t work you could be spending the next 15 hours charging from a caravan park socket rather than the lunchtime stop you expected. Arriving with 40% state of charge is far wiser than arriving with less than 10%.
  • Don’t try and charge too fast if you don’t need to, especially overnight on three phase. If the Plugshare comments say the breaker trips off with extended high amp charging go to the touchscreen settings and drop the amps down a small amount so the car completes charging just before you plan to depart, slower charging is better than no charging.
  • Cool the car interior just before departure while still charging, this reduces the energy consumption from the battery needed to cool the car down once back on the highway.
  • Ask permission to charge before you plug in. Many of the charge locations in regional WA are provided through the good will of the local business, it’s important to return the favour with a friendly chat if possible. Take note that due to staff turnover the person behind the counter may not even know a chargepoint exists, check the exact location by browsing the plugshare photos beforehand.

General tips.

Get an early start each day and get off the road before dark – there’s far less traffic on the road in the early morning and it’s generally cooler. There’s still some wildlife hanging around the side of the road but it’s easier to see without a continual flow of headlights heading towards you. Early starts and early finish also provide some flexibility if your planned journey for the day takes longer than expected.

Don’t get too confident in quality accommodation being easily accessible, if you want the best possible overnight stay, ring well in advance, and make sure you arrange key collection. Many of the regional locations close up the front office by 6.00pm.

A number of TOCWA’s committee and members have completed long distance journeys throughout the state as well as around Australia, they are willing to share their experience with others so don’t be afraid to ask if you want more information.

TOCWA Electric GoKart Championships

The Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia recently held its inaugural Electric GoKart Championships at the Powerplay indoor track in Joondalup. The concept was proposed by TOCWA committee member Peter Petrovsky who arranged a private event that would give Tesla owners full use of the track over a 4 hour time slot.

The 48 pre-registered drivers separated into random groups of 8 driving a 12 lap qualifying session. After the initial 6 qualifying sessions drivers were placed into 6 finals according to their fastest lap time, each final of 8 closely matched drivers was a 12 lap test of skill with the fastest lap time being declared the winner.

Trophies were Tesla themed with – Rainbow Road, Sport, Insane, Ludicrous, Plaid and Plaid Plus awards. We also had a Chill Award presented to Julie-Anne Watson for showing great Spirit at the event.

The evening ran fairly smoothly considering it was our first event of this kind, the committee are planning a few tweaks for next year that should make it even more enjoyable.

A big thanks to the great staff at Powerplay Joondalup, to the committee for organizing the online booking system and email communications, and of course to Peter Petrovsky for overseeing the whole event.

Why You Should “Ruin” Your Weekend in an EV

Many of you may have heard about the cheeky Facebook group “I ruined the weekend“. For those that haven’t its a full of photos and reports on how Electric Vehicle owners have made use of their vehicles going on long outback trips, visiting a country Vineyard, towing a Boat, and generally going about business as usual whilst driving electric rather than petrol or diesel. The Facebook group was a clever idea by long time West Aussie EV owner Ant Day, who like myself and hundreds of owners across Australia are thoroughly sickened by the continual fear campaign aimed at EVs. Politicians Scott Morrison and Michaela Cash claiming that Electric Vehicles will ruin your weekend was an audacious slogan that needed countering.

So why should you “Ruin your weekend”?

On one side of the fence we have a small but vocal group of EV owners supporting the electric transition, on the other side are the naysayers who believe EVs are not the answer, in reality this second group are people who know the electric transition will be detrimental to their business. In the middle are the fence sitters, the vast majority of Australians that have an interest in Electric Vehicles but struggle to separate fact from opinion from all the mud being thrown around, these are the potential owners that need to be convinced. It’s far better to do this with facts rather than opinion.

The best way to achieve this is prove it can be done, get out for a weekender to the country, tow the boat down to the ramp, go camping at some secluded location, go for an interstate trip, but most importantly leave the petrol car at home. Taking your EV to a place it’s apparently not supposed to be is a great conversation starter, it gets fence sitters attention and the conversation around the BBQ gets changed in a positive way. It’s no longer opinion, it’s fact, pessimism has been replaced with optimism. This is something the naysayers will never have, they can never show it can’t be done but you can show it can.

A Charge of Teslas holidaying in Kalbarri, Western Australia

Why AC Charging is Still Vital

When most people refer to electric vehicle charging they discuss the DC variant, and without doubt DC only charging is useful in three EV charging scenarios.

  • DC charging of at least 100kw power output is critical on highways between Australian towns and cities, the vast majority of non EV owners firmly believe fast charging times that are closer to petrol refill times are essential if they’re going to purchase an EV, these future new owners will soon realise that a 15 minute stop every 250kms is nowhere near the issue they expected.
  • There’s a small percentage of car owners that live in multi story buildings with no electricity outlet near their allocated parking spot, when these residents purchase an EV they’ll rely on public charging, for many DC charging will be the preferred choice.
  • The third EV charging scenario is the Taxi industry, to make the day to day operation as smooth as possible they’ll need the easy access to reliable DC charging.

So why is AC charging still so vital?

Despite what the EV naysayers would like to portray, the vast majority of Australian car owners have the ability to charge an EV at home or work. It doesn’t need to be 3 phase power, 10, 15 or even 32amp single phase is more than sufficient to replace the average days driving.

Compared to DC charging an AC charging set up is extremely cheap and fast to install. Public DC chargers are currently very expensive to install, sometimes expensive to maintain and often attract a lot of red tape that drags the build time out for months on end. At the moment there’s a very low number of electric vehicles on the road compared to the rest of the vehicle fleet so having EVs charging at their local DC charger is handy advertising, as the transition to plug in electric drivetrains rapidly increase this may very well cause issues if the DC charging infrastructure in built up areas can’t keep up with demand.

Those EV drivers mentioned earlier in the scenarios above will heavily rely on local DC charging, so getting as many owners as possible with the ability to charge at home or work from AC charging is vital to making the nationwide EV transition as smooth as possible.

Model 3 USA build v China build

Energy efficiency and charging speed comparison

This test was scheduled to compare the different supercharging speeds between a USA and China built model 3 standard range, we also took the opportunity to test the energy efficiency of both cars. The energy efficiency test produced some unexpected results but nothing that would make one car far superior to the other over its whole life.

Conditions for the day were fine and dry, with the outside air temperature starting at 19C and creeping up to 26C over the next 4 hours, the roads had light to moderate traffic allowing for both cars to stay visible to each other, there was no tailgating each other or drafting larger vehicles.

We attempted to drive a combination of suburban and highway routes although a significant section of the journey was at 110kmh on a fairly coarse road surface that has a negative effect on range, I’ve driven the same Forest highway dozens of times in a model S in the past 6 years and it’s certainly chews up the energy as much as any West Australian road I can think of.

To make the test as tidy as possible both cars had the same cold tyre pressures (45psi) using the same brand and size tyres, both climate controls set to 22C throughout the full test when driving, 2 occupants each. Both cars preheated their batteries on approach to the supercharger. We had the good fortune to have the Eaton V2 Superchargers to ourselves avoiding shared cabinets.

The Supercharging Speed Test

Not really a groundbreaking surprise here but more of a reminder that the USA installed NCA batteries have a slightly different charging profile to the China installed LFP batteries, the good news is both cars had a reasonable good charging speed between 20% and 90% on a V2 Supercharger capped at 135kw, USA build taking 33 minutes, the China build taking 32 minutes.

Note: 97Kw figure at 40% was double checked and is correct.

The Efficiency Test

The Trip A south in temperatures between 19C and 22C was a total distance of 129kms  via a detour through Pinjarra, this produced a small surprise that we initially put down to a margin of error, the USA car had a trip average of 153Wh/km against the China car of 157Wh/km, I didn’t expect the China car to have any advantage on such a mild day, a cold day would have certainly given it a win.

The Trip B north was a more direct 103kms with temperatures between 23C and 26C, this did throw up an interesting result, the USA car averaged 145Wh/km, the China car 158Wh/km, that sort of gap wasn’t expected.

So why such difference? It wasn’t driver behaviour, we swapped passengers at the supercharger so I spent time with both drivers, there wasn’t any significant difference in accelerating or braking. As the cars had been matched as close as possible the only difference was the age of the tyres, although the China model 3 had 1200kms on its tyres it appears they need some more age and distance before the tyres produce their best efficiency.

Many thanks to Nigel and Alex for giving up their Saturday morning to conduct this test.

Rob.

Avoid switching off the air conditioner to save energy.

I’ve noticed a lot of drivers recently tell how they turn off the air conditioner to gain extra range, this stems from a misunderstanding of how much energy a Tesla HVAC system (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioner) consumes under various conditions. It’s only if you’re driving in areas north of Geraldton or east of Merredin that you should be concerned with energy consumption (or if you’re paying insanely high electricity prices). In the city and suburbs crank up the cooling or heating and enjoy that car.

As virtually all country areas in Western Australia that may require some energy conservation are warmer areas, I’ll stick to discussing HVAC cooling.

So why not turn off the HVAC cooling or open the windows?

Driving an aerodynamic vehicle with the windows open above 40-50kmh is a backward step, more energy will be consumed from poor aerodynamics than an air conditioner would normally consume, the faster you drive the bigger the difference.

Driving a long distance in a car with a hot interior is not worth it unless the situation is desperate, besides the safety risk of possibly losing concentration, you’re also reducing the enjoyment of driving a Tesla.

When cooling the amount of energy the HVAC consumes depends on a couple of factors; how low a temperature the HVAC is set too, the interior and outside air temperature and often lastly but often overlooked; how long the car has been sitting in the full sun before switching on the HVAC, a significant part of the heat absorbed by the cars bodywork will transfer through to the interior adding to the task of cooling the inside air.

How to get the best range while still using the HVAC cooling.

  • Try and park the car under shade before departure, this could save 10-15kms of range over a 350km trip.
  • Pre cool the interior whilst the car is still charging, on AC charging this may reduce the charge speed but getting extra distance covered is more important than the few extra minutes it may take.
  • Set the thermostat higher, you may enjoy being spoilt with a 20C interior around the city but 23C over a long drive is better than no cooling at all.
  • Drop 5kmh- If the choice is drive at 100kmh with no HVAC cooling or 95kmh with cooling the 95kmh journey is going to be far more enjoyable, besides driving at 95kmh only makes the 350km trip 11 minutes slower.

Over the long term as DC fast chargers are installed in WA country areas reducing most trips to below 250kms the above advice will no longer be applicable, but in the meantime stay cool and enjoy that car.

TOCEVA Racing at the Shannons Targa Rallysprint Series

Article by Andrew Harvey, TOCEVA Racing and TOCWA committee member.

The newly formed TOCEVA Racing is a group of EV enthusiasts who come from the Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia and the Australian Electric Vehicle Association.  The TOCEVA plated 2019 Tesla Model 3 Performance, driven by Jurgen and Helen Lunsmann has placed 4th overall and fastest in the Targa Cup class of Round 2 of the Shannons Targa Rallysprint Series, ahead of a tough field of almost 80 cars.

Jurgen piloted the TOCEVA Racing Model 3 under Helens calm guidance through four runs around the Perth Motorplex course for a total time of just over 9 minutes.  The field is separated by type of car and engine capacity, something that is hard to define for the Tesla, but there are two main classes.  The Rallysprint cars are heavily modified racing cars while the Targa Cup cars must adhere to strict rules governing Targa racing.

The TOCEVA Racing Model 3 is effectively a standard Tesla Performance Model 3 with the only upgrades being racing brake pads, racing tyres (on standard 18in wheels) and this was the first race with the recently (as in last week!) installed roll cage.  The TOCEVA Racing team led by Jon Edwards worked through the holiday break to strip the interior ready for the roll cage, then painstakingly replaced, altered and fabricated new parts for the interior to get the car ready for today’s race.

Another Tesla Model 3 Performance competed, Nigel Ball driving his everyday car (with racing brake pads, wheels and tyres but no roll cage) impressively coming in 9th place overall.

Coming off a tremendous 4th place overall in last season’s Targa Cup (competing in the Targa 130 class speed limited to 130km/h) this is the first of many races for 2021 for TOCEVA Racing, competing in the open class of the Targa Cup for the first time.

We are looking forward to the next round on the 28th January again at the Perth Motorplex.  Spectator entry is free so come down and watch some great motorsport.  Where else can you see a Tesla quietly showing the racing fraternity what electric really can do?