A Quarter of a Million Kilometres in Seven Years and the Tesla Model S is Still Going Stronger Than Ever

Having waited nine months for their Model S to arrive, it’s no wonder Rob and Robin refer to their Model S P85D as their “baby”. Back in 2015 Tesla deliveries in Western Australia were fairly rare, there was no delivery centre, no showroom, no service centre or local Tesla employee to hand over the cars. Each delivery experience was unique. In Rob and Robin’s case, Tesla sales requested they collect their Model S from a transport depot in Canning Vale a suburb in Perth, Western Australia. The car was clean, charged to 90% and the key fobs were handed over with little fuss. There was no one trying to sell window tinting or seat protection, less talk and more driving, the way it should be.

The car had plenty of features but only two they really cared about, firstly it was insanely fast, and second, they could charge it from their excess home solar power. In those days the Deans “couldn’t care less about supercharging, software updates, autopilot or the massive touchscreen on the dashboard.” They also weren’t bothered by the fact that in 2015 Tesla was a very small car company, living on the edge, with no service or support within 3,000kms of Perth, but to them it was worth the risk to support the only car maker taking EVs seriously.

The plan for the car was fairly simple, have some fun, take a regular weekend drive camping and attend a few car shows, maybe clock up 20,000 kms per year. The only long trip Rob & Robin had initially planned was in winter of 2016 when they were preparing to drive from Perth to Broome and back, but that trip turned out to be so enjoyable it became a catalyst for many more trips to all parts of Western Australia and eventually a visit to every state and territory including:

Home (Mandurah) -Exmouth-Broome return, 4,900kms June 2016 AC charging only

Home-Shark Bay return 1,800kms November 2016 AC only

Home-Albany-Esperance-Kalgoorlie-Perth return 2,000kms April 2017 AC only

Home-Adelaide return 5,600kms December 2017

Home-Tom Price- Newman-Marble Bar-Port Hedland-Onslow-Exmouth return 4700kms April 2018 AC only

Home-Kalgoorlie-Leinster-Yalgoo-Shark Bay return 3,100kms October 2018 AC only

Around Australia clockwise including Tasmania 19,620kms Sept-Oct 2019

Home- Exmouth- Yardie Creek-Kalbarri- return 2,800kms June 2021

Home-Eucla-Esperance return 3,000kms January 2022

More than a dozen other trips between 700 and 1,800kms at 140 overnight destinations.

Seven years and 250,000 kms later they still love the car as much as they did the first week they had it, so much so, they can’t wait to buy another Tesla. This time it will be the Model Y which they plan to use as their second car, because they say they’ll never sell the Model S P85D.

To hear more about Rob and Robin’s experience with their Model S click on the video below or try the following URL: https://youtu.be/7uvoFdJsmDM

I interview OG Tesla owners Robin and Rob Dean to get the first-hand account with their 7-year old Model S after they recently competed 250,000 kms in the P85D.

Q&A:

How has the battery held up?

In short, it’s not an issue, it’s all been as expected. After 250,000kms the car’s range is 420km in the city and 370km on the highway which is roughly 10% less than new, but as expected, the first 5% of battery degradation was much faster than the last 5% which is now barely noticeable.

What are your total out-of-pocket running costs? I just had the 4th set of tyres fitted, the average lifespan has been 81,000kms per set. I’ve kept with Michelin’s paying between $350 and $410 per tyre fitted. All up including two minor repairs it’s added up to $4660.

How much do you think you’ve saved on fuel?

Who cares? Well okay, put it this way, if the bloke up the road had the time to drive his less powerful and slower high performance V8 250,000kms over the past 7 years he would have consumed $39,000 worth of fuel at city prices. If I paid full grid price for the electricity consumed the cost would be $11,500, the fact is charging has cost us virtually nothing as most charging has been free from our home solar system. The car also comes with free lifetime supercharging and most of the AC charging we’ve done around Australia has been complimentary and the few dollars spent on DC charging is immaterial.

What about servicing?

It’s often incorrectly claimed that Teslas don’t need servicing; it all depends on how much the owner values their vehicle. As this car spends a large amount of time far away from a service centre, I’m happy to spend some cash making sure it’s in the best possible condition. $1,300 over 250,000kms is money well spent.

Any warranty repairs?

At 160,000kms Tesla replaced the rear drive unit due to the milling noise showing up in some early Model S vehicles, the car was in the care of Tesla service for just a few hours. The MCU was replaced at 220,000kms under a recall due to a potential eMMC failure, this took half a day at Tesla service.

What don’t you like about your Model S?

The paint appears soft and has suffered more than previous cars have from loose stones (chip seal) on country roads. Tesla also make unnecessary changes to the charging screen via software updates. At one stage, the Tesla charging screen was perfect, but not anymore. Some bored tinker-man in California adds complexity for no reason.

What has turned out to be surprisingly good beyond your expectations?

As I said earlier Supercharging didn’t interest me, and to be honest if it didn’t exist I’d still be just as supportive of EVs, but after experiencing the simplicity, reliability and convenience of Tesla Supercharging on both sides of Australia I can see how important the Supercharging network is to encouraging everyday Australians to change from petrol to electric transport.

Midwest Coastal Trip by Steve Rogers

Leaving behind the plentiful charging options in the city for the countryside can be daunting for an electric car owner.

Spring in the mid-west of Western Australia is a great time to visit and see the bountiful wildflowers so be brave.

A drive north from Perth along the coast offered several reliable charging options for our Tesla 3.

Venturing inland to Pindar, via Mullewa and returning to Perth on the inland route, less so!

The “Electric Car Highway” is in its infancy.

Seeking out chargers will see you searching behind buildings and driving around back streets.

I would love to drive into a town that welcomes RV owners with a prominent “RV friendly town” and see another that says, “EV friendly town”.

I see a day when there will be not just one, but many chargers located prominently in the main street just as there are petrol pumps in a garage.

Standardisation of charging may come too. I carry four cables to cope with whatever I must deal with.

Leaving the city behind it is essential to plan for your next charge and hope that another EV car isn’t occupying the only charger at your destination.

Worst still, an ICE blocking the bay!

When we drove inland from Geraldton via Mullewa to Pindar to see the Wreath Flowers we needed to recharge to return to Geraldton. The Mullewa Caravan Park allowed a charge for $10. This was at a glacial speed. Turning off the air conditioning doubled the charge rate.

After three hours we drove back drafting behind a truck whilst rain bucketed down.

We watched the range decrease arriving back with an insane 19km left!

Won’t do that again.

Mobile phone coverage in the country isn’t great for those, like me, who aren’t with Telstra.

Don’t expect your APPS like Plugshare to work.

I also discovered that a lot of hotels and garages have three phase outlets and will allow you to charge.

Great if you have the correct size three phase plug…apparently there are two sizes!

The TOCWA 50kW fast DC charger at the Fisherman’s Wharf in Geraldton delivers at a reasonable cost.

One catch.

Accessing is via the Nextcharge APP not by using the menu on the charger itself.

Find the code for the padlock on Plugshare.

Driving an electric car on country trips takes a different mind set to that of driving an ICE.

Whereas you might fill up an ICE once a day from one of many garages, in an electric car stopping for coffee whilst you “top up” will become a way of life.

Not a bad life!

Steve Rogers’ South West Trip

Steve has recently taken delivery of a new Model 3 – he shared this owner story below:

Here is a short video of the country trip we took to test our nerve for the longer distances of country travel in the Tesla.


Worth noting that our “fuel” cost was just 6.8 cents per km and at no time did we consider the time spent at charging stations to be a problem. We always had something else to do whilst there.


We are now planning a mini holiday up to Geraldton for the wild flower season.

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 2018
19 days
Tesla 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. David McLeodWarnamboolAugust 2021Tesla S Blue
16. Phil SmithCairns August 2021Tesla 3 Blue 
17. David CoatesMelbourneSeptember 2021Tesla 3 Blue
18. Bill Gresham & John PhillipsCanberraJuly 2022Hyundai Ioniq Red
19. Jeff & Julie WicksGoldcoastJuly 2022Tesla 3 White
20. Tiff OvertonCentral Coast NSWAugust 2022Mercedes EQC400 Silver Grey
21. Harald MurphyPerthSeptember 2022 14 daysTesla Y White
#AUSYtour
22. Pete PetrovskyPerthSeptember 2022
17 days
Tesla Y White
#AUSYtour
23. Neil BoltonCanberraOctober 2022
17 days
Tesla Y White
24. Stuart McBainSydneyNovember 2022Tesla 3 White
Charge Around Australia
Currently Travelling:
James Taylor

Perth

Tesla 3 White
Not confirmed: Hilly Andy? Perth2021Tesla 3 Blue

Spare Tyres

A number of owners asked questions yesterday about carrying a spare tyre, before I go in to detail the Tesla owners club of WA have a free to use model 3 spare for members plus McCarthy’s in Nedlands carry at least one spare for model S cars, if you have a model X get in contact and TOCWA as we also have a owner’s spare that’s available.


So do you need to carry a spare tyre?

• For around the city and suburbs the answer is NO, in fact I would recommend getting your car flat bed trucked to a tyre centre rather than risk injury changing a tyre in a city full of distracted drivers.

• If you’re driving on the busy coastal corridor that passes through Mandurah-Bunbury-Dunsborough-Augusta there’s enough support to go without a spare tyre so the choice is yours.

•If you’re planning a drive North of Jurien Bay, East of Cunderdin or South-East towards Esperance I highly suggest you carry a full size spare tyre and jack, the chances of you getting damage to a near new set of quality tyres is low but if you do get a tyre failure the consequences can be very expensive and extremely frustrating.

Carrying a tyre repair kit is NOT sufficient, these are only useful for plugging small holes caused by tech screws, most tyre damage in regional areas is caused by a very rare but unavoidable pothole or a foreign object that’s fallen off another vehicle.

What about a space saver spare? For country roads these are crap, I can’t see the point of driving at slow speed for up to 300kms to the next town only to spend the next 3 days hanging around waiting for a replacement tyre to be transported in, best to carry a full size spare with plenty of remaining tread that will allow you to enjoy a stress free journey.

Powerwall and Solar Panels

There has been a lot of positive articles out there on the attributes of the Tesla Powerwall and an equal amount of misinformation.

A lot of the attention is focused on the cost benefits analysis of both solar and indeed more so the Powerwall storage battery.  Often overlooked is the very basic practical advantages of a combined system and the subsequent feel good efficient use of power. Hopefully this article will dispel some of the myths.

At this time of the year the system is producing over 41kw of power per day which is more than double our daily power consumption.

There has been no need to use peak power from the grid and we try where possible to keep our consumption equal to what the solar panels produce.  

How you may ask?

Owning two electric vehicles, battery powered saws, drills, battery reciprocating saw, battery hedge trimmer etc. means that we can charge up all devices when the sun is shining – directly from the Sun.

Rather than directing excess solar production back to the grid at 7cents a kilowatt the Tesla Model S can consume the marginal power and more importantly can be calibrated to the extent that it will only use the level of excess power produced by the system and no more.  Whilst there are a couple of gadgets that you can install to automatically switch the excess power to the car it is simply a matter of reducing the amps to the car to maintain the equilibrium.  Easy to do on the cars charging screen.

When the sun rises in the morning its first priority is to power the house and then charge up the powerwall which is sometimes run down low whilst powering the house overnight.   All subsequent power generated is then directed as we see fit.

The Powerwall has been a fantastic addition and has kept the house going particularly in September and October last year when we had a 48 minute outage and a one hour 22 minute outage.  The house has three phase power and all of the essential circuits are backed up. 

There has been a lot of negative views on the ability of the Powerwall to back up a three phase home.   Our system has been tested twice just recently with all essential circuits operating as normal.   The storage capacity of the battery is well and truly sufficient to keep all of our essential services running for quite some time.   Exactly what we would expect.

There are a lot of unrealistic expectation out there which can only be satisfied by a significant increase in battery storage capacity or multiple power walls or commercial type of storage units.   Just depends on your daily power needs in times of grid power outage which after all is not all that frequent.

The feel good part is being able to charge both electric vehicles and appliances directly from the Sun and of course enjoying the financial benefits of lower power costs.

Article written by Martin

Model 3 – Ken’s 3 day review

On our recent trip to California for the Tesla Owners Group meetup, Harald and I hired a pair of matching Model 3s through Turo.  They were both from the initial production run and therefore had the long-range battery, premium interior, single motor and in basic black.

We are unlikely to see this model in Australia in the initial release, as like Europe, we’ll probably get the two dual-motor options – the long-range, premium dual-motor and the performance dual-motor.

The conference was in Milpitas, and we flew into San Francisco, so there was a nice combination of interstate driving and local roads.  After getting my head around 4-way stops in San Francisco, I headed out onto I-280.  If you’ve driven a Model S, the Model 3 feels very familiar.  The single-motor Model 3 feels a little slower than my uncorked S75D, but snappy enough for easy acceleration.  The regenerative brakes feel similar also.

The main standout was the feeling that the 3 was much more nimble.  This is not really a surprise given the reduced weight and wheelbase, but it was nice in unfamiliar road conditions to feel like you could point it and go.  The suspension felt a little firmer than the S, but again, this is likely mostly related to the difference in weight.

The single screen was a novelty for about the first hour, and then I stopped noticing that it was any different.  The vehicle I had was running a late v8 software version, but those who’ve upgraded to v9 will notice some similarities that we’ve inherited from the Model 3 software design.  I don’t have any driving shots as I was by myself, but this image was taken while supercharging.

The third of the screen closest to the driver contains items that would appear on the Model S/X driver display and the remainder of the screen is laid out very similarly to the main display.  One key difference is that because it’s all touchscreen, you can interact with the drivers display in a few ways.  The steering wheel controls were also different with the scroll wheel and paired buttons replaced by a scrollwheel which could be pushed side-to-side as well.  I had mine set up for the cruise speed and for audio control, and both options were intuative.  It was sometimes tricky to advance the music track without also clicking pause, but I’m sure I would have got more used to it over time.

Annoyingly, the vehicles we hired did not have Autopilot enabled, so I wasn’t able to test that, but I assume it will respond much the same as any other Tesla with Autopilot.

Interior appointment was excellent.  The seats were firm and comfortable and I think the rear seats were a little nicer than those in the Model S.  Because there is no hatch, and therefore no need for hinge structure in the roof, the rear headroom felt better, and it was a perfectly fine place for two adults to sit.  The Model 3 is narrower, and this would make it tight for three adults in the back, but certainly workable for shorter trips.  The front ventilation is amazing, with the touchscreen controlling where the air is directed for driver and passenger – you can move the stream up and down, as well as set it as a single stream, or split.  There are no moving parts in this system as I understand it – the air is directed by varying the amount at the top and bottom edges of the vent channel.

Luggage space is obviously much smaller than an S or X, but still very usable.  The frunk is similar in size to that on a dual-motor S (I’m not sure how much smaller it gets when you have a dual-motor 3)

The rear space is quite different as the Model 3 is a sedan rather than a hatch.  The boot lid opens high and the lip is small

The main difference in practicality is that it is somewhat narrower, and therefore can restrict some types of cargo.  I routinely put my road bike, with both wheels still attached into the S with the seats folded down with little fuss.  Testing this on a  Model 3 required removal of one bike wheel to fit through the opening to the back seat area.

That said – it was still quite doable, and I doubt it would present much of a challenge – It felt similar to the space in my previous Audi A6, for which I needed to do the same thing.

Over the few days I used the car, I loved it more and more.  Its smaller overall size made it much nicer to drive, and easier to park and manouvre.  Whether the smaller storage spaces would bother me is hard to gauge.  While in California, I was able to ride in the then-new dual-motor performance Model 3

This was an eye-opening experience.  The acceleration felt on par with a P-series S, although on the spec-sheet it’s *only* 3.5 seconds to 60mph.  I walked away from that experience seriously considering replacing my S75D with a performance 3 – it’s likely to land in Australia around $A100,000 which is quite a bit less than I paid for my S.

Feel free to ask questions, make comments below, and I’ll try and answer as many as I can.

Perth to Exmouth Electric Road trip

The return trip is just over 2500km. Finding AC charging points is no problem, there’s a bit of downtime whilst charging but if you haven’t driven North of Perth before it gives you a bit of extra time for sightseeing, if you’ve driven this road many times before and have seen it all the downtime can be spent writing down all the reasons why DC fast charging would be very handy in these parts.

Good range is very difficult to achieve all the way to Northampton, the wind blows consistently and a tail wind never seems to blow when you need one, the second major affect on range is the coarse road surface, with charging points no more than 220km apart getting to your next destination shouldn’t be a problem but just in case be prepared to drop the speed back to 90km/h if it doesn’t hold up traffic.

The roads are well built all the way to the Exmouth turnoff, after that it’s a two way marked road but the edges don’t have much room for error. Be cautious of impatient drivers especially on the Perth to Geraldton leg, expect to see at least one act of stupidity from a random driver, fortunately more overtaking lanes are being built and the sooner the better, also look out for foreign tourists that forget which side of the road to drive on, generally first thing in the morning.

Charging options:
It is a good idea to study Plugshare before each destination, there are some handy tips (especially when using the Jurien foreshore charge point).  Please update Plugshare for fellow tourists – if someone has logged in recently it gives them the confidence to make the journey.

  • The Alkimos type 2 to type 2 charger is a handy top up point if conditions are favourable enough to attempt the 380km journey to Geraldton in one drive, a better option is to stop at Jurien Bay for 30 minutes and add 120km of range to the battery on the Caltex DC charger.  Cervantes has a Tesla HPWC as a backup charging option.
  • Geraldton has two locations with Tesla charging options, Oceanwest Geraldton were the first to install charge points when no one else in town had any interest in supporting the cause, Oceanwest have accommodation and nice walks along the beach if it’s not too windy.  More options now available, check plugshare.
  • Almost halfway to Carnarvon is the Billabong Homestead it’s on the highway next door to the roadhouse but under different ownership. Billabong has a Tesla charger, updated accommodation that may not be the Hilton but is clean and air conditioned, the Red car cafe has hot meals, hot drinks and a licensed bar.
  • Wooramel is 120km South of Carnarvon, they do have a 3 phase outlet but it requires a large gate to be unlocked to gain access, plans are in place to install a more convenient Tesla connector, accommodation is very basic here but also clean and good value.
  • Carnarvon has two locations with Tesla charge points, both are central to town with secure parking, Seaview has circa 2012 built apartments that would suit couples who travel light, an easy walk to get food and drinks. The Carnarvon motel is a large property with a variety of room sizes and facilities, great spot for the kids with a swimming pool, games arcade and large dining area.
    When in Carnarvon the NASA Museum is a great value and worth the stop for an hour or two.
  • Coral Bay has a 3 phase power outlet at the RAC resort, at the time of writing it was due for repair so ring ahead, if you are planning to stay overnight in Coral Bay 15A single phase would suffice. Edit: Coral Bay 20amp 3 phase was working as of June 2021.
  • The RAC tourist resort in Exmouth has near new 32A 3-phase outside the check in office, it sometimes gets blocked by the Coffee van in the morning but that’s not a bad problem to have at 7.00am. As most people would stay in Exmouth for at least one night 15A single phase would cover most needs.

Payment for charging:  Generally charging during overnight stays is complimentary (but not always so check plugshare) daytime charging is hit and miss, some locations have a set fee, some still haven’t worked out a charging fee and others are happy as long as you eat, drink and be merry. If you’re unsure the best option is always to offer to pay some cash, another good practice is to carry a bottle of wine or two as a good will gesture, every location is different.
*Keep in mind that in these early days every EV driver is an ambassador for the cause, so don’t forget to thank the owner/manager/staff for providing car charging.

Tyres:  Dongara, Geraldton, Carnarvon and Exmouth all have tyre shops, unfortunately most roadhouses no longer have facilities to help out. I highly recommend you carry a spare wheel and tyre combination, a good tip is to check the tyre tread for screws/nails while the car is charging, there’s a good chance a foreign object will lodge in the tyre while driving through a carpark slowly rather than on the open road.

In a few years time the Perth to Exmouth route will no doubt have DC fast chargers all the way, the journey will be routine and in many ways mundane, your Tesla will be just like every other car out there, so while it’s just AC charging be slightly adventurous and give it a go.

Updated June 2021.

Tesla 2016 Nullarbor Road Trip

In 2016, David and Matt drove from Perth to Adelaide to demonstrate that such journeys in an EV are quite possible – at that time, there was no specific charging infrastructure, but of course, you can charge an EV wherever there’s a plug.  There is much more infrastructure even in the two years since.

David’s report follows:

Matt and I planned this trip to prove an Electric Vehicle, a Tesla in particular, could drive from Perth to Adelaide across the Nullarbor, without purpose built chargers or facilities, and without having to camp in caravan parks with slow charging. The fastest the car can charge from AC is 32A 3-phase which provides 100km of range per hour, and this is what we wanted to use.

The Tesla performed brilliantly. We had planned dawn to dusk driving or charging for the first three days, and all daily destination targets were achieved. Auto-pilot drove most of the way and only faltered when we crossed into South Australia into the rising sun where the contrast between the road markings and the surface was very low.

On day 1 we charged in Merredin (at CBH grain silo) and at Southern Cross Town oval.

Merredin Town was the only one to say they could not help, but the CBH manager lent us his ICE to drive into town whilst the Tesla was charging and we found 3-phase at the Nissan dealer who agreed to allow EVs to use it in the future. We then walked round the Town recreation centre and found two 3-phase outlets which reception said we could use – we took photos of them back to the town council to gain official approval for next time.

We had to reach Kalgoorlie by 4pm for the local press and welcoming committee at Main roads, and our electrons were running low. Normally we would just reduce speed from the standard speed limit to improve efficiency but we couldn’t do this because of our deadline, so we arrived with 11km in the tank. Matt had to do a few demonstration launches and by the time we got to our night charger at the Oasis centre we had exactly 1km in the tank. Not an electron wasted. We knew we were charging by the netball court, but we were directed actually onto the courts, which felt secure with fences round us. When we got back later the courts were all full (except ours) and we had to wait until the game on the neighbouring court finished to drive out.

On day 2 we left 15 minutes late, charged at Norseman Town oval and so got to Balladonia road house 15 minutes late. Here the outlet was in an awkward location and we wanted to prove that we could still get close enough (rather than use our new 3-phase extension lead). Matt managed to fit into the tight space with 50mm margin on both sides. The manager Gregg promised to move the obstruction in time for Matt’s visit on the way back and for future EVs. However, this cost us another 15 minutes so we were 30 minutes late  leaving Balladonia.
It was getting near peak roo time so we slowed down, and the car watched the road ahead and kept us perfectly in lane whilst Matt and I were free to scan the bushes on either side. No worries in the end, except we arrived an hour behind schedule in the dark.
The later arrival presented a problem for the following day since we only had 15A single phase charge at Caiguna and we needed a full tank to make the next 3-phase at Border Village. 14 hours of charging would achieve this but we only had 13 hours to dawn when we had to leave without a full charge.

We left next morning missing a few electrons. Although we knew there was not much altitude difference over the whole day, our power use initially was too high at the speed limit. It turned out we were climbing steeply to the Madura pass before descending the escarpment into SA. But we don’t regen all the extra power we use on the way up, and it is not comforting when the car is panicking and telling us we will not make our destination and to turn round immediately – we reduced speed to 80-85km/h to hold the range left on arrival to be greater than zero, and road trains started whizzing past.
We stopped to spruik Teslas and try to convince the roadhouses on the way to accept the sockets we were providing free, and are hopeful of Cocklebiddy and confident of Mundrabilla. Next time this gap will be bridged. We had now stopped climbing so the power drain was less, so we decided to catch up to one of those roadtrains which had overtaken us and set the Auto-pilot to one car gap and accept the slipstream. Magic – our power use dropped dramatically and we were able hold 102km/h most of the way to Eucla.
At Eucla we had 12km to go to Border Village with 12km in the tank. We stopped to do some more spruiking and discussed taking a 15 minute charge even at 15A or to go very slow climbing through the Eucla gap.
At Eucla the receptionist said no, they didn’t have 3-phase power and what was it anyway, that the manager was not available and that she did not know about electricity. I asked to speak to the person in charge of maintenance, and the receptionist said he could be anywhere on site. Did he have a mobile phone? Yes. Do you want me to ring him? Yes please. But when Dave arrived he said no worries and plugged us into a beautiful 32A 3-phase at the laundry. The manager Amanda then appeared and we agreed a cost of 88c/kWh and even persuaded her to accept a free Tesla HPWC for next time (if Tesla approve this site).
So we arrived in Border Village with plenty of electrons and only did a courtesy charge there on the socket we had supplied. In fact, we were restricted to 22A from this outlet because of doubts about the wiring, so it was fortunate that we did not actually need a charge here.
We were now 30 minutes behind schedule but arrived at Nullarbor Roadhouse just before sunset, to plug into another of the sockets we had supplied.

The last two days were planned to be easy, with some spare time in case of problems in the first three days.

Matt took the manager Ross for a few launches at sunrise the next day (4), then we left across the true treeless plain to Penong Caravan park where a 20A and a 32A 3-phase awaited. We tested both successfully and then settled on the 32A and went to the Penong Hotel for a small pint. Soon Visible Tesla advised us that charging had ceased, so we rushed back to find the 32A could not hold the current and dialled it down to 26A. This put us behind schedule again and we tried pushing back up to 29A which held. The manager Graeme promised to look at this for next time.

At Ceduna Men’s shed the reception committee had left, but Matt said he would catch them on the way back. The car decided the 20A socket here was not fit for more than 15A, so we had more time to chat with Rodney and the local electrician Jamie. Karen at Poochera Hotel was very welcoming and we were soon plugged into one of her bar customer’s workshop across the road. Although this socket held 20A well, we decided to dial it down to 15A since this would be sufficient overnight. Payment for the electricity was by means of a bar tab with Karen, and she advised that she could ensure a 3-phase outlet would be available to any future EVs staying with her, on the same basis.

The next day seemed too easy, with the 50A outlet on offer at Kimba hospital and 32A at Port Augusta main square. But our 32A plug did not fit into the 50A socket, so our hospital contact took us into town to Bridgestone Tyres where Charlie said no worries. He had just had a new 20A 5-pin wired up, and by parking in a neighbours drive and snaking our extension lead, 32A to 20A converter/ cut out and 20A plug through his workshop we could reach it. However the car did not detect any supply so we deduced that the neutral had not in fact been connected. Charlie would now get the sparky back but in the meantime had another 20A even deeper in his workshop. We were now very glad we had bought the 10m 3-phase extension cable the day before we left. After donating a couple of bottles of WA wine we left with sufficient charge for Port Augusta. On the way Iron Knob offered cool drinks so we went in to find a ghost town taken over by Emus, and no functioning facilities. We arrived in Port Augusta to find the green box housing the 3-phase sockets locked, and the receptionist at the Town council knowing nothing about it and not able to contact Daniele. We left a message for him on his mobile and started to explore the area in 3 phase outlet search mode, soon discovering a 50A attached to the back of some automatic loo facilities. We wanted to settle the question of 32A plugs into 50A sockets so plugged in and after a bit of elbow grease made the connection. We were plugged into our own facilities, but had to park on the grass to avoid cables across the footpath. We were also in full view of the Town offices so it wasn’t long before rangers came to protect their grass and their loo. Fortunately were able to show our email exchange with Daniele and suddenly the key to the green box was found and we moved to an official parking spot there, which only involved a 2m cable across the path. We were instructed to remain with the car at all times and to replace the lock once we were finished. We charged to 90% hoping to use the Percedos charger out of the door of our room at Hotel Flinders to top off overnight (and to avoid the batteries sitting at 100% for long). Unfortunately we were iced in, although Matt did manage to add 90 minutes of charge at 9A early the next morning.

The last day was too easy with a strong tailwind and we drove the 320km to Adelaide at the speed limit (no plus offset because of the average speed cameras) with 60kms to spare. I had been unable to use auto lane change, and only discovered in Adelaide that I had not enabled this in my personal driver settings!

The power for this 2850km trip was supplied free by the town councils, but
we paid a total of $140 to the various commercial locations. We also gave Ceduna Men’s shed a donation of $50 and supplied outlets to Nullarbor Roadhouse and Border Village costing $41 each.  We also bought a 10m, 32A 3 phase extension cable for $313.

Although this trip required detailed planning, with several reserve locations since we were not sure what we would find at each location (access, wiring, compatible outlets), it should now be easy to replicate since the details of all visited outlets are on  Plugshare.

The gap between Balladonia and Eucla is now bridged at Mundrabilla and
Cocklebiddy, so there will be no need to charge on single phase anywhere between Perth and Adelaide. We took 5 nights on the way and visited more chargers than necessary (to test them out and talk Tesla), but only 4 nights were really required, and less if driving after dark.

Western Australia is now connected to the rest of Australia by fast AC outlets.

The Demise of the Internal Combustion Engine

Many of the public and media commentators fail to pay full attention to the transportation disruption the world is about to go through, many consider it’s going to happen but believe the change will be very slow, a 30 to 50 year process is the general opinion.

Well here’s my prediction: by 2027 there will be no sales of new 100% internal combustion engine vehicles (ICE) in Australia.

Car dealerships, if that concept still exists, will only stock battery electric vehicles (BEV) or Hybrid vehicles, at least 80% of those vehicles will be the less complicated BEV, the remaining sales Hybrid, anyone looking to buy a new internal combustion engine driving a mechanical drive-train will be in for a shock.

Most people reading this would very much doubt the above is even close to reality in Australia as there is a section of today’s population that will always want an ICE drive-train, yes that’s correct but there’s also a series of factors that will combine to fast track the demise of new ICE vehicle sales.

I will get to the biggest factor last but first it’s important to look at the timeline of Electric vehicle disruption:

  1. 2018-Most of the world’s car makers are preparing for an Electric vehicle future, due to bottlenecks in battery supply chains and other production constraints the initial build volumes will be low keeping prices high.
  2. Sometime before 2022 the average Electric vehicles total cost of ownership will be less than an equivalent ICE vehicle, this includes the lower life time servicing, repair and re-fuelling costs.
  3. By 2025 the initial purchase price of an EV will be less than the purchase price of the equivalent ICE vehicle. This is due to a number of reasons including; far higher production volumes, far lower battery costs and the clear fact that an EV with less than 20 moving parts is far less complicated to build than an internal combustion engine drive-train with over 2000 moving parts.
  4. By 2025 the excuses for not owning an EV will no longer exist, driving range per charge, recharging speed and availability of charging points will be perfectly acceptable for most drivers, for those that aren’t convinced that a BEV is suitable a Hybrid vehicle will cover their needs. For those who still need a brand new complete internal combustion engine drive-train vehicle they have 2 years before the price difference becomes too much to justify.

So what’s the biggest factor in the demise of ICE new car sales?  Put simply the country has too many now. Australian’s have had a long love affair with their cars, getting a driver’s licence and car was and in many cases still is a big deal to many teenagers, this carried on through their 20s right through to retirement. Cars offered freedom, a great way to socialize, and if you weren’t that sharp at school, no good at sport or would never win a beauty contest that didn’t matter you could always have a cool car.

That’s all about to change, cars are not so important to many teenagers anymore, it’s a tool to get from A to B, they have a smart phone and that’s more exciting, plus they can call a Uber to get from A to B. Then there’s the adult population that already have a license and live in a 2 or 3 car family, they already had an inkling that cars were money pits but it’s starting to hit home now, the most recent report from the AAA states that transport costs are almost $18,000 per household, that extra car taking up space in the carport is starting to look dispensable. Paying for a second or third motor vehicle that rarely gets used is a waste when public transport, car sharing or an Electric pushbike could reduce the transport costs significantly, some households have already taken this course of action, the money is better spent on home loan repayments or holidays, expect plenty more to follow suit as time passes.

On top of this there’s increasing reasons for the public to give up driving; speed cameras, toll roads, road rage, traffic jams, these inhibitors to a pleasant driving experience will not go away, for many people it’s a far better experience to be a passenger and catch up with social media, expect car ownership to reduce steadily over the next decade, public transport and Electric vehicle ride sharing will increase in popularity.

All those cars and SUVs that were purchased new between now and 2025 will still be useful, but they will be common and cheap on the second hand market. Due to the higher running costs compared to an Electric vehicle it may be viable to purchase a very cheap second hand ICE but certainly not viable to purchase a new one. The only ICE vehicles that hold any value will be rare classics from the days when Australian’s loved their cars.

By Rob Dean, driver of both EV and ICE vehicles.