Interview with ABC Kimberley

In September, TOCWA Secretary, David Lloyd was interviewed by Stephanie Coombes of ABC Kimberley about electric vehicles and WA’s remote North-west:

STEPHANIE: I suggest it is pretty unlikely that you would imagine riding around the red dust in an electric car but here’s the thing there is a big push under way at the moment to make the Kimberley electric car ready. That means getting charging points every hundred kms or so. The Kimberley is one of the last frontiers for electric cars, but believe it or not even now it’s possible to drive from Broome to Kununurra in an electric car. David Lloyd is an electric car enthusiast, and that’s to save the least. He’s the secretary of the Tesla Owners Club Western Australia and a member of AEVA. Good morning David.

DAVID: Good morning Stephanie How are you.

STEPHANIE: I’m not too bad. First of all you’ve driven from Perth to Broome in an electric car. What was that like.

DAVID: Ah it was so much fun – that was in the early days before we had 3-phase installed everywhere. This makes the charging 3 times as fast. We had to try to cover the gaps, working out the wind and elevations.

We had to charge at 80 mile beach in a welding shed there and then drive the 380 kms to Broome which was near the limit of the range of the car at that time. That was fine but we had a big easterly which effects the range, so we had to turn the AC off and arrive dripping into Broome. That was a great adventure. It is all different now since Eco Beach are installing 3-phase and the car’s range is now 500kms.

STEPHANIE: So even then even before there was a big movement to get electric cars it was possible. It is just that it took someone like you who is a little bit fanatical perhaps about electric cars to make it happen.

DAVID: Yes. We did that run in October 2016. A couple of people had done it before without any 3-phase which is even more remarkable.

But we had arranged to have 3-phase installed on the way. Cable Beach Club put in a Tesla destination charger for us. It was lovely to arrive to that Рit was a welcoming sight to see the Tesla sign. But since then FreshWater Resort  Kununurra, Timber Creek Hotel, Ranges resort Karratha, Seaview Appts Carnarvon have or are installing destination chargers. So all the main centres from Perth to Broome and beyond have Tesla destination chargers.

STEPHANIE: It’s quite incredible to think that things have changed so quickly already since October 2016 I mean that just over a year ago.

DAVID: Yes, Tesla have done a big push here at our request, but also AEVA (Australian Electric Vehicle Association). We have partnered with Synergy to distribute ordinary commercial 3-phase sockets, as you see in welding sheds. Now all cars can use these, all EVs can charge from them, they give 22kw of power which is about 100kms of range per hour. They are perfectly viable but just don’t look as pretty.

STEPHANIE: Now tell me a little bit about this new push to get the Kimberley completely electric car suitable.

DAVID: So, AEVA has decided to reduce the gaps from 300kms which is suitable for the older Teslas (now 500 kms for new Teslas). We want to reduce that down to a 100kms grid over all main roads in WA, and to do that we have got to talk to all the roadhouses, hotels, restaurants everywhere on the road. In some cases unfortunately there is not even a kettle every hundred kms so we cannot do 100kms in Kimberley but we can get it down to 150kms. Larrawa Station has just joined up for instance. We are talking to all the stations, so they can get in on the act. Once the 3phase sockets are installed, then the route will be very easy for a number of cars because there will be choices of where to charge. You won’t have to charge at every point and can skip them and go onto the next one.

STEPHANIE: How much would it cost if you are station owner. For example would you give a certain amount of money and expenses to charge up an electric car.

DAVID: Well we offer to pay for electricity certainly and if generated locally it is more expensive. So the owner of the facility would charge the EV owner for the electricity. Even generated electricity is cheaper than buying petrol -we get more range out of the electricity per $ than petrol cars. We can supply the sockets free to any location in the Kimberley that wants to have one and fits into our grid, let us know. We will post one out to you. All you have to do is install it.

Then you can get customers staying at your premises, buying your meals or staying overnight with you.

And you can charge for electricity as you wish- it is up the location.

STEPHANIE: And here’s the thing you guys are going to be captive while you’re charging your car. Not as quick as filling a tank of petrol. So you do have a bit of a captive audience.

DAVID: That’s right we are even targeting service stations since they can make more money selling electricity than petrol. The margins are higher. We will hang around a bit more. We will go shopping, go to the stores, patronise the local businesses as well, and go to the local tourist sites in the area of course.

For a day charge EVs will spend longer.

In practice however with a 500kms range, mostly we will only need to charge at night and this takes just 20 seconds to plug in and leave the car and thats it.¬† But we will be staying with a local service provider obviously and buying meals locally. It’s good for tourism.

STEPHANIE: Now you obviously as I said earlier been driving around in an electric car before people thought that it was possible even. Are you going to miss these adventuring days where electric cars and charging stations are not that common place.

DAVID: Yes definitely definitely it has been a wonderful experience being one of the pioneers. It is so much fun planning the routes, working out the distance to go and time to go. Sometimes you turn up to a socket and there is no power. It has been great fun.

It’s going to become commonplace. The market is going to be flooded with EVs. The Tesla model 3 is only US$35,000 so it will change the market totally. There will be 100s of thousands of them coming.

The pioneering days are over unfortunately.

STEPHANIE: David thanks so much for your time, OK.

DAVID: It has been a pleasure, Stephanie.

STEPHANIE: That was David Lloyd – he is an electric car enthusiast definitely loves his electric car.


It would be great to prove Stephanie wrong and show her the cars in Broome at the ABC office soon!