Perth North Supercharger Location

10 JUNE 2021 BY PETE PETROVSKY

As some may have noticed, a couple of months ago, Tesla’s supercharger map had two exciting and long awaited W.A. updates.

  • The Perth Supercharger location was assigned the Q1 2022 timeframe, and,
  • A new location referred to as “Perth North” popped up with a Q3 2021 timeframe.

As we know, the location of the supercharger icons on the map are not designed to be precise or provide an accurate indication of the location, therefore, the question is where will the latest WA supercharger be located.  

In my view, it would be ideal to locate it in Joondalup as it would be an ideal location for:

1. those heading north to Jurien Bay etc. Joondalup would also put Dongara and potentially Geraldton within reach, and then on to Kalbarri, Monkey Mia, Carnarvon and so on.

2. those coming back from north of Perth, for example Jurien Bay, Geraldton etc could charge at Joondalup and then have enough to travel around Perth or comfortably reach the Eaton Supercharger,

3. those living in apartments in Joondalup who have little if any options to charge. (Joondalup has the second highest apartment dwelling population of any suburb of Perth after the CBD),

4. those living north of Perth who feel uneasy buying an electric car with the most northern DC charger being all the way in Gwelup (an approx. 25 min drive from many northern suburbs near Joondalup and potentially longer in traffic) Understandably, most charging occurs at home, however, if one forgets to charge, or the power goes out and there is another issue it makes the EV purchase decision easier if you know there’s a fast charger within a 5 to 15 minute drive. 

5. Joondalup has aspirations to become Perth’s biggest satellite city with approval to build high rise buildings such as the 18-storey Arthouse completed in mid 2020.

6. Wanneroo which is adjacent to Joondalup is Australia’s 5th fastest growing council with the Wanneroo and Joondalup population projected to reach 800,000 by 2070. (The current population of Perth, is less than 2 million.)

If the thinking is that the primary purpose of the supercharger is to address the long-distance trip market rather than serving the surrounding suburbs, then another good location is the Drover’s Marketplace and Leap Frog’s Botanic Gardens, Mini Golf and Restaurant at 1397 Wanneroo Rd in Wanneroo as it is the most northern point with any infrastructure along Wanneroo Rd (which heads out to Indian Ocean Dr to Jurien, Dongara and so on.) 

Drover’s Marketplace is located on a major intersection which services about 62,000 cars on an average day. To put this figure into perspective, it is about three times more than the traffic along the Australind Bypass along Forest Hwy in Eaton where the only other existing Supercharger in Western Australia is located and about fifteen times as much as the traffic along Albany Hwy in Williams where the next supercharger is to be commissioned.

The Marketplace is home to a major northern suburbs tourist attraction which is the 5-acre Leap Frog’s Botanic Gardens with integrated mini-golf, wedding venue and restaurant. Drover’s Marketplace is also home to a cafe, steakhouse, pizza restaurant, Italian restaurant, bakery, hairdresser/barber, liquor store, large fruit and vegetable and mini mart store, butcher, 24/7 gym, laundromat, 7-day chemist, medical centre (including physiotherapy, dentist, nutritionist, pathology, sleep clinic and podiatry). There is also a creche, kids indoor swimming pool, storage, vet, pet store and so on. Importantly, the above list only includes the existing tenants as the other half of the site is currently being developed which provides a good opportunity for the installation of appropriate electrical infrastructure. This southern part of the development already includes a petrol station and across the road is also a McDonald’s. Carramar Village Shopping Centre is within walking distance and includes a major supermarket, community centre, several fast food outlets, newsagency, cafe, 24/7 gym, hairdresser/barber, chemist, medical centre, school and so on. 

It is entirely possible that Tesla has already picked the location and thus the above could serve as a suggestion for the next supercharger location or maybe there is still time for Tesla to take the above into consideration. Either way, with the State Government due to begin installation of the fast DC charger network across WA next year, it is going to be an exciting time for WA Tesla and EV owners.

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.

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.

Comparing the Eaton Supercharger with the Treendale DC charger

These two sets of chargers are 5kms apart not far from the Forrest highway 160kms south of Perth, they’re are both excellent charging facilities that provide a welcome link for drivers heading to the south west corner of the state.

Treendale consists of 2 charging outlets with a maximum charge rate of 350kw, although currently there are no electric vehicles in Australia that can accept that power output. As of today (28/12/2020) the cost is 40 cents per kWh with no connection fee via the Chargefox network. In addition to the reasonable cost per unit the ability for 2019 onward Tesla’s to charge at rates as high as 190kw makes the Treendale charger an attractive alternative.

Treendale 350 kW fast chargers

The Eaton Superchargers are part of the Tesla network, the bank of 6 charging outlets have a maximum charge rate of 135kw, for those without access to free supercharging credits the 52 cents per kWh cost can appear excessive compared to charging at home but is acceptable for a top up every few weeks.

Eaton Superchargers

The clear advantage of the Tesla supercharger is the convenience of the set up, firstly you can detour into Eaton with the surety that at least one of the 6 charging bays will be available to use, having the ability to check via the Tesla app how many chargers are occupied before arrival is an added bonus, but best of all the “plug in and walk off” set up is so much better than opening a phone app and waiting for a connection as often occurs with most other non Tesla chargers.

In summary, if you have a newer Tesla with the ability to charge at higher rates the Treendale chargers are the better alternative, the downside is you run the risk that eventually both charge bays will be occupied on arrival. If your not concerned about saving a few minutes and a few dollars the Eaton superchargers are the best option, park up, plug in, walk off completely hassle free.