The above question gets asked on a regular basis on Tesla forums and there’s no perfect answer, what I will say with certainty is an accessory that’s very useful for one Tesla owner could be completely useless for you and vice versa. As the Grail Knight says “Choose wisely”.
To focus this discussion I’ll break it down into 2 areas – Charging assistance and finally Exterior and Interior Accessories.
Charging assistance – Charging also breaks down in to two areas, Home charging and Public/Travel charging. The set up you need at home depends on the average distance you expect to drive per week and if you’re planning to make use of home solar or the Synergy EV plan that’s available between 11.00pm and 4.00am. If you wish to ask a question about a home charging set up on any TOCWA social media make sure you provide as many details as possible for a faster and more accurate answer. Public or travel charging accessories/cables is often determined by where you you expect to charge in public areas close to home and the locations and frequency you expect to drive in country areas. Sadly there is not yet one single charging cable to suit all occasions, the good news is TOCWA members get access to loan charging cables until you’re confident you know which cable suits you best.
Exterior and Interior accessories – There’s no shortage of businesses in Western Australia selling Tesla accessories such as after market wheels, paint protection, window tinting and much more, there’s also no shortage of Tesla owners who’ve used these services, the most obvious advice I can give you is meet up with one those Tesla owners that have had paint protection, window tinting or other product installed for more than 12 months, check the quality with a keen eye and ask lots of questions.
Some after market additions can be very useful over the life of the car, some can be a huge burden, take the time to make the correct decision.
Don’t forget TOCWA’s Ask Us Anything every Wednesday evening from 7.30pm for some useful advice on charging and accessories and/or check out some articles on this website.
A portable power pack (also referred to as a solar generator) is sold in a variety of storage capacities from 150Wh up to and beyond 2000Wh. At this stage they are generally very expensive in terms of dollars per Wh of storage, if you purchase a unit that fits your needs and plan to use it on a regular basis it’s a useful product, otherwise they’re a waste of money and battery resources.
A big gripe I have is many of the power packs on the market are advertised as being useful for recharging an EV, no doubt the larger units can charge an EV but making this part of a purchase decision is poor thinking. Why? A fully charged larger unit could potential add 8 to 10kms of range to a Model 3, handy in absolute desperation but with a Model 3 Standard having at least 330kms of range at 110kmh no one who adheres to the ABCs of EV ownership should be getting stranded. If you think you may be 8kms short of range, slow down by 5-10kmh, you may arrive 15 minutes later than planned but that’s better than sitting on the side of a road while trickle charging from a 27kg device that costs $2000 or more.
So how is a power pack useful- As I said if you’re going to use it on a regular basis away from home they can be very convenient, despite most cars having multiple 12v power outlets they’re never always close to hand, having the flexibility of multiple phone, iPad, Laptop and Camera/Drone battery charging outlets away from the car when a 240v outlet is too far away is fast and convenient, they’re also very handy keeping a portable freezer operating away from established power.
There are two main types of power packs, the larger ones have a built in inverter and one or two 240v outlets capable of running appliances such as TVs, power drills or kettles for short periods of time, the extra internals needed add to the purchase price and the overall weight. The smaller power packs rarely have a 240v capability so are generally less cost per Wh or storage. If you can get through a few days without a 240v outlet that makes your choice easier.
Testing a portable power pack
To run the test I purchased a Coleman 40Ah power pack as this was readily available at a wide variety of camping stores throughout Australia, it currently is the best value per Wh of storage and most importantly contains LifePo4 batteries. These are heavier but are more likely to survive the expected 2000+ cycles before storage capacity is down to 80% of original. The 40Ah power pack has 512Wh of capacity and could potentially power 8 devices at once.
Test one – See how long a 100% charged battery would last while cooling a 45-litre fridge/freezer down from 18C to -15C, this was done during the day in an outside but shaded area in temperatures between 23C and 30C. The pack supplied enough power to allow the freezer and the originally room temperature water containers to reach 0C within 95 minutes, this consumed 16% of the available battery. I stopped the test after 10 hours with the battery down to 5% and the internal freezer temperature -15C. The test was run entirely during daylight hours.
Test Two – See how long a 100% charged pack would maintain the fridge freezer at -4C. This test commenced at 8.05am and continued through two full days and one night, the maximum temperature during that time was 30.6C, the overnight minimum was 21.6C. I concluded the test after 35 hours with the battery level down to 4%.
Test Three – See how much charge my old fold out 100Watt solar panel can add to the power pack without shifting the panel to follow the direction of the Sun. Considering there was early morning tree shade and a small amount of cloud cover in the late afternoon the 80% added to the battery was very handy. The Coleman 40Ah power packs inbuilt MPPT was a significant advantage. A 120W solar panel or shifting the panel once during the day would have provided a 100% charge.
Test Four – Can the solar charging keep up with a Fridge/Freezer set at -4C? Yes, the F/F requires around 65% of the battery over 24 hours, the 100W solar panels replaced 80% during daylight hours.
To summarise: portable power packs can be a handy accessory if you purchase the correct size for the planned tasks and use it on a regular basis.
With all that enjoyable, safe and low-cost motoring to look forward to, you’re no doubt eager to hit the road, but perhaps you’re wondering whether you know everything you should before jumping behind the wheel of your shiny new Tesla. While I aimed to be comprehensive, the following should not be considered an exhaustive list of everything there is to know about owning an EV, but hopefully it should make for a good and informative start.
You’ll want to ensure you take out comprehensive car insurance before driving your new Tesla for the first time. There are numerous variables that go into determining insurance premiums including the insured value, the excess, where and how the car is parked, your driving history, your demographics, the age of the youngest driver, your no claims bonus, personal versus business use, how much you expect to drive the car as well as optional extras such as a hire car and so on. It’s important you take these and any other relevant factors into account when arranging your car insurance. In terms of who are the most Tesla and EV friendly insurers in Australia, TOCWA members report the lowest premiums from RACWA and Budget Direct ranging between approximately $900 a year or lower to about $2,000 a year or more for a Model 3, but please do shop around as far and wide as you feel appropriate and please let us know if you happen to find better like-for-like rates with another insurer.
Before picking up your car I recommend that you download the Tesla app here: https://www.tesla.com/en_AU/support/tesla-app and set up an account. Tesla may have already let you know that the delivery experience will be fairly fast, possibly as short as 5-15 minutes. You may therefore want to consider reaching out to an experienced Tesla owner to run you through the controls and settings before you drive off for the first time. Alternatively please see this video about how to best set up your new Tesla I generally recommend setting the car up with the following options turned on:
◦ Lights – Auto
◦ Auto High Beams – Off
◦ Windscreen wipers – Auto
◦ Regenerative Braking – Standard
◦ Stopping Mode – Hold
◦ Charging – 90% for cars with NCA batteries or 100% for cars with LFP batteries
◦ Set speed – Current Speed
◦ Automatic Blind Spot Camera – Enabled
◦ Blind Spot Collision Warning Chime – Enabled
◦ Forward Collision Warning – Early
◦ Lane Departure Assistance – Assist
◦ Emergency Lane Departure Avoidance – Enabled
◦ Automatic Emergency Braking – Enabled
◦ Obstacle Aware Acceleration – Enabled
◦ Traffic Aware Cruise Control Chime – Enabled
◦ Green Traffic Light Chime – Enabled
◦ Walk-Away Door Lock – Enabled
◦ Driver Door Unlock Mode – Enabled
◦ Car Left Open Notifications – Enabled
◦ Lock Confirmation Sound – Enabled
◦ Close Windows on Lock – Enabled
◦ Auto High Beam – Off
◦ Display – Auto
◦ Brightness – Auto
◦ Trips – Rename the last trip meter to: “Lifetime – Do Not Reset!”
◦ Trips – Rename the second last trip meter to “New Tires”
◦ Trip Planner – Enabled
◦ Online Routing – Enabled
◦ Sentry Mode – On (Remember to turn back on after a software update.)
◦ Dashcam – Auto and On Honk (Remember to turn back on after a software update.)
◦ PIN to Drive – Enabled
◦ Glovebox PIN – Enabled
◦ Cabin Overheat Protection – On (Please note this will be automatically disabled when the battery state of charge drops below 20%)
◦ Software Update Preference – Advanced
At any time, but ideally prior to taking delivery of your vehicle, I would encourage you to become a TOCWA (Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia) member. TOCWA is the officially sanctioned Tesla club for WA and a not-for-profit volunteer-run group facilitating communication, advocacy and community for Tesla Owners and reservation holders within WA.
TOCWA is always willing to help anyone considering buying an EV but for best value I would urge you to become TOCWA member as the cost is just $20 a year and I’d be surprised if you don’t get this back several times over. Firstly, as a member you will be invited to join the weekly ‘Ask Us Anything’ Zoom call run by the Club Secretary where you’ll get the opportunity to have your questions answered by veteran Tesla owners with years of invaluable experience. The Club Secretary and Chairman who are among some of the first Tesla owners in Australia, have driven well over 200,000 kilometres in each of their Teslas around WA as well as on trips across or around Australia and they and many other members are always happy to share their years of experience. You’ll also be invited to monthly in person Casual Meet Ups and many other events as well as being able to borrow charging equipment, spare tyres for long road trips and other equipment at no cost. You will also be able to purchase some chargers and other accessories at substantially discounted prices. Being a not-for-profit organisation, the club is able to buy in bulk or at wholesale prices and offer the items to members at no mark-up. For example, the club sells the Khons Kwik charger to financial members at $750. the cheapest price I’ve seen on the internet is $1,280. For full disclosure, I am a proud TOCWA committee member. To join the club please visit: https://www.tocwa.org.au/membership-join/
Synergy EV Home Plan
Once you’ve taken delivery of your Tesla, I recommend signing up for Synergy’s EV tariff ‘trial’. If you’re still on the Synergy A1 tariff your electricity rates won’t change apart from between the hours of 11PM to 4AM during which time your tariff will drop by about 30% from currently 29.3273 cents to 20.4651 cents. Whether you charge your car during this time or not, the tariff applies to your entire home’s electricity draw. If you are on any tariff other than A1, please give me a call to determine the best course of action.
In order to qualify for the Synergy EV Home Plan, you’ll need to provide proof of ownership but the car cannot be registered in a business name. To find out more see:
A must for all EV owners is the Plugshare App which lists most if not all EV chargers available to the public in Australia and around the world. The browser based version can be found here: www.plugshare.com and these are the Apple iOS and the Google Android versions.
You may also wish to download the following EV charging network apps and set up an account and a payment method such as a credit or debit card so that when you arrive at one of these chargers you can plug and charge without stress or wasting time worrying about setting up an account.
For a faster, permanently wired and wall-mounted home charging solution, you can consider the Tesla HPWC (High Power Wall Connector) https://www.tesla.com/en_AU/support/home-charging-installation/wall-connector The HPWC is very reasonably priced but the installation pricing from the installers listed on the Tesla website is in my opinion exorbitant. If you require an installer, or if you’d like to discuss other charging options please feel free to contact me and I’ll try to put you in touch with a reasonably priced installer in your area.
For charging at untethered public AC chargers you will require a Type 2 (a.k.a. Mennekes) EV cable which can be purchased from TOCWA or others such as https://evse.com.au/product/7-metre-type-2-to-type-2-ev-charging-cable-22kw/ Please note, these cables can come in various configurations. I recommend the 22kW 7-metre version. Although a 5-metre cable is considerably cheaper, it’s not uncommon to find yourself “ICED” which is where the EV charging bay is blocked by an ignorant or inconsiderate driver of an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. In these situations, the 7-metre cable should be long enough to reach an adjacent parking bay.
If you’re interested in buying accessories for your new Tesla, I highly recommend attending the TOCWA Ask Us Anything Zoom call and speaking to the existing Tesla owners first. In terms of vendors, this is the link to the official Australian online Tesla store: hhttps://shop.tesla.com/en_au There are also now many third-party vendors. The two main Australian sites are: https://tesloz.com.au/ and https://tessories.com.au/ but you can also explore Amazon and many other online shopping sites.
As a new EV owner there will be some new information you’ll want to take on board, including charger knowledge, public charging etiquette, and lots of Pro Tips that you will find helpful. As a minimum, it’s good to know about the ‘ABCs’:
Always Be Courteous
Electric vehicles are a disruptive technology and although it’s becoming rare, you may come across some people whose livelihoods or whose identity may be threatened by the rapid shift to sustainable transport. You may also find yourself ICED or there may be other situations where you’ll be tempted to let the person know exactly what you think, however, it is always best to remain calm, respectful and courteous and if all else fails it may be best to prevent any escalation and walk away. Please also remember that being an EV owner and/or driver you’re representing other EV owners and/or drivers.
Always Be Charging
Owning an EV is in many ways similar to owning a smartphone. There’s nothing worse than a dead phone and although it’s very rare for a Tesla to ever run out of charge you don’t want to find yourself in that situation so it’s a good idea to plan your longer journeys around charging points and to always have a contingency plan because you could get to a charger only to find it’s not working or taken up by another EV.
Although this is changing at a fast pace, you will soon learn that with Teslas still being a relative novelty, it’s not uncommon to be stopped by a curious member of the public who is fascinated by your Tesla and is eager to ask you about your experience. (The most common questions are: How long does it take to charge? What’s the range? Do you have to pay for the charging? How long will the battery last before it needs replacing?) It’s great to spend some time answering these questions but a good pro tip is to ask the person to wait one second while you plug your car in and ensure its charging. That way your car can be filling up with electrons while you talk, rather than finding yourself engrossed in the conversation only to realise you could have been charging for the last twenty minutes.
Always Bring Cables
As already mentioned, your Tesla will come with an included Universal Mobile Connector (UMC). If you’re using the UMC as the means of charging your Tesla at home, it can be inconvenient to wrap it up and take it with you each time and it’s easy to forget too, therefore, Tesla recommends the Tesla high Power Wall Connector (HPWC) but there are also other options. That way you’ll be able to always keep the UMC in one of the three convenient storage spaces of your car, either under the bonnet in the ‘trunk’ or in the well under your main boot or in the boot itself. Should you find yourself in a situation where you need to charge you’ll have a cable ready to plug into any 10A or 15A power socket or a 32A 3-phase outlet if you bought the additional adaptor pig tail. For a faster and more convenient charge, there are an increasing amount of Type 2 (a.k.a. Mennekes) AC chargers at shopping centres, fast food outlets and other locations and many of these are untethered requiring a BYO Type 2 cable. You may also choose to carry a 10A or 15A extensions cable.
Always Browse Comments
As already mentioned, the Plugshare app should be considered a must for any EV owner. One of its numerous handy features is to see if a charger is being used before planning to charge there, but It’s also a good idea to take note of the last successful charge and to read any comments that the person may have written. It may also pay to check the opening hours of the charger as some may be located behind gates that may be locked outside of opening hours. Some chargers such as those located at car dealerships may be reserved for the dealership during opening hours and kindly made available to the public afterhours. Using these chargers outside the public times may result in the owner making the charger unavailable to the public.
Adjust Battery Consumption
As already mentioned, it is very rare to find a Tesla run out of charge, however, should you find yourself in this situation, if you haven’t done so already, ensure you have set your destination in the car’s navigation system and follow any of the car’s warnings.
Another very good option may be to reduce your speed. You’ll be amazed just how much of a difference a drop in speed of 10km per hour can make. As a rough rule of thumb, it could reduce your consumption by about 10%.
You could also try to use the air-conditioning system or the fan instead of open windows or to use seat warmers rather than the heater in winter.
You may also consider increasing the pressure in your tires by pumping them up to say 45 PSI but only do so if it’s safe and always ensure you keep your tires below the maximum recommended limit.
Public Charging Etiquette
Last but certainly not least, a few things about public charging etiquette. It’s important to realise that an EV charging bay is exactly that. It shouldn’t be confused with a parking bay. Think how you would feel to arrive at a charger with a low state of charge in desperate need of a top up only to realise the charger is being taken up for hours by an inconsiderate EV owner who may have reached a full charge some time ago or worse still who hasn’t needed to even plug in. Furthermore, the Tesla Superchargers are now charging idle fees at a rate of $1 per minute, particularly when half or more of the stall are being used, so treating a public charger as a parking bay may prove expensive.
It may also be helpful to log into the Plugshare app to register your charging session so that others intending to charge at that location can plan their journey accordingly. Logging your charging session into Plugshare is by no means compulsory, especially at a busy metropolitan chargers but it may be particularly helpful at remote locations. Another useful alternative may be the Need to Charge service.
It’s also important to realise that there is no such thing as a ‘free’ charger, there are only complimentary chargers. This is an important distinction, because many businesses who have agreed to host EV chargers, (some after numerous pleas by EV enthusiasts), have done so in good faith for little if any monetary reward. If a business, agrees to host, service, maintain and cover the electricity consumption costs, not to mention the capital costs associated with procuring, purchasing and/or installing and commissioning the EV charger, the least we can do is to buy something at the business. It also goes a long way to explicitly thank the establishment for signalling and hosting the charger and it doesn’t hurt to leave a tip either. There are also some chargers such as the Biofil units running on used chip oil which require the manual starting of a generator, such as those put in with the help of Jon Edwards and the crowdfunding from the WA EV community at the Caltex service station in Jurien Bay or the Roadhouse in Caiguna. It may be worthwhile giving the business a call beforehand to let them know of your expected arrival time. Unless there are other EVs waiting for a turn, once charging, it’s advisable to charge for at least 20 minutes or so before the attendant has to return and turn off and pack up the charger. If you can’t charge for at least 15 minutes or so, please offer to pay for a full charging session as it can be annoying for the attendant to have to leave paying customers to come out to turn the generator on for you only to have to come back a couple of minutes later to turn it off to recoup a couple of measly dollars.
Lastly, a tip for new owners. If you’ve noticed your car only has a single reversing light, don’t worry there’s nothing wrong, the car only comes with one white reversing light on the left as the right one is a fog light. Hopefully this will save you a phone call to Tesla as they get a few of these every day. Update: Soon after this article was published Tesla began shipping Model 3s with two reversing lights. Therefore, there will now be some models delivered around the end of February or early March 2022 with a single reversing light but the later models will have two reversing lamps as well as bigger indicators. (By the way, some very early Model S cars also came with just one reversing light.)
Pete Petrovsky is an active TOCWA (Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia) committee member and a long-time EV enthusiast. He placed a $6,000 deposit for a Model X (#39) in 2014 but when it came to taking delivery he couldn’t justify the cost, so instead, he and his wife decided to buy two PHEVs and wait for the Model 3. In March of 2016 they bought the Holden Volt and a couple of weeks later the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and on the day it was unveiled, Pete ordered the Model 3. After selling the Outlander, in September 2019, Pete took delivery of the Model 3 and despite still loving their Volt, Pete and his wife are now looking forward to ordering the Model Y as soon as it becomes available in Australia.
When he gets time, Pete posts videos on his ‘Tesla Ahead of the Curve’ YouTube channel. He is a long-term Tesla shareholder and over the last eleven years has been responsible for more commercial rooftop solar PV in Perth than any other individual. In 2016 Pete added grid electricity to his role and since October 2020 he has been Managing Director of Imppact Energy Consultancy. In July of 2011, Pete also installed one of the first ‘oversized’ 6KW solar PV systems in Perth, which to this day continues to power their home and both EVs with free sustainable energy.
As you may have seen in recent news retired engineer Jon Edwards has designed, built and installed a Biofil DC charger at Caiguna on the Western side of the 1200km drive between Ceduna and Norseman, this provides a handy boost for the adventurous EV owners crossing the Nullarbor when border openings allow. Before I continue let’s make one thing very clear, you’re under no obligation to drive across the Nullarbor, commercial air travel is faster, safer and probably cheaper, but as Ferris said “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it”.
Below I’ll discuss the charging available at the locations that are spaced evenly apart.
Before attempting to drive an EV across this part of Australia remember that Plugshare is the only app with the accuracy to plan charging stops, also don’t rely on apps to predict your energy consumption and arrival times, the road surface and wind direction plays a major part in how far you’ll get on a charge, play it safe and always plan to arrive with at least 30kms of range remaining. If you wisely plan your daytime and overnight charging stops the less time you’ll spend topping up the batteries.
Departing Norseman and driving East the first well spaced charging stop is at the Balladonia Roadhouse, 190kms from Norseman, which has a 22kw CCS2 DC charger plugged into the 32amp 3 phase outlet. Compared to the latest 250-350kw DC chargers popping up close to Australia’s populated areas 22kw appears prehistoric, but in reality they’re a pretty handy short term solution that doubles the charging speed a model 3 can get from the existing 3 phase outlet and better still triple the charging speed available to a Hyundai Kona.
Caiguna, 181kms drive from Balladonia, has a 50kw DC charger powered by a Biofil generator, politely ask the counter staff to start the charger then go and enjoy the air conditioned Cafe.
Madura, 157kms drive from Caiguna, has a 22kw DC charger plugged into the 32amp 3 phase outlet, payment is a donation to the Royal Flying Doctor Service tin located in the dining area.
Eucla, this location is 182kms east of Madura, charging is via a 32amp 3 phase outlet in the Laundry of the Eucla Motor Hotel. Be aware that this outlet is not available between 9.00am and 3.00pm, if you expect to arrive at this time maybe use the Border Village charge point, 12kms to the East.
Nullarbor Roadhouse, 197kms drive from Eucla, has a 32amp 3 phase at the rear of the building close to the motel units.
Penong Caravan Park, 223kms east of the Nullarbor Roadhouse, has a 32amp 3 phase (it has been prone to tripping at 28amps so plan accordingly). Penong is part of the South Australian grid so is likely to get a reasonable speed DC charger before too long.
Cocklebiddy, Mundrabilla and Border Village also have handy 32amp 3 phase outlets if you want to shorten the driving distances between charge sessions or wish to try different accommodation on the return journey.
As most EV owners will know, there are two main ways to charge an EV, AC or DC, but there’s also another less known and slightly more nuanced distinction.
A charger’s main purpose can be for rapid top ups or for longer perhaps even overnight charging and it’s important for EV drivers to understand this difference as it will not only save a lot of time, but it will also result in a better ownership experience for the entire EV community.
The main purpose of ultra-rapid DC chargers such as the Tesla Superchargers is rapid top-ups to facilitate convenient travel between built-up areas. This is critical in winning over the broader driving public who have concerns about charging downtime on long trips away from home. The problem is many new owners have misunderstood this and are in fact wasting a lot of their time charging at high battery percentages. How much time are they wasting? It depends on the vehicle’s next destination but as can be seen from the graphics below, it’s more than many drivers realise.
As the chart above shows, a long-range battery takes about the same time, roughly 14 minutes, to charge from 10% to 60% as it does to charge from 90 to 100%. In other words, you can spend the same 14 minutes topping up 50% at a lower state of charge (SoC) or 10% at a higher SoC.
50-60% SoC is a key level because not only does the time to charge each 5% increment begin to lengthen to charging speeds attainable at slower (non-ultra-rapid) DC chargers but generally it’s enough battery capacity to cover the distance between Superchargers on long road trips.
What is not illustrated on the graph is what happens once the state of charge reaches 100%. Once at 100%, the charge time jumps off the chart as it took me at least a further 19 minutes of trickle charging the last few watt hours and balancing the cells before I lost patience and quit the test.
As can be seen in the graphic above, at roughly around a 14% state of charge (SoC) the car reached its peak charge of 244kW but then this began to taper off down to 192kW at 30% SoC, then to 110kW at 50%, 81kW at 70% and 42kW at 90% before dwindling down to 5kW once it remained at 100% for almost 20 minutes.
Once at 100%, the time the car takes to completely finish charging is dependent on how long it has been since the battery was fully charged to 100%. The longer the period between full charges the longer it takes to balance the cell groups and the longer the battery takes its time at the 100% level.
Powered by a lithium-nickel-cobalt-aluminium (NCA) battery chemistry, once at 90% or above, it is best to begin driving the Model 3 Performance (and Long Range) to ensure minimum long-term battery degradation. It’s not ideal to keep this chemistry above 90% or below 20% for extended periods of time. In fact, the above 90% charge level should be reserved only for times, when necessary, on longer stretches between chargers on country road trips. However, that said, it is also a good idea to balance the cells once every 3-6 months. The added benefit is that the battery management system (BMS) will also get a chance to recalibrate itself to ensure accurate battery range readings.
In contrast, it is ideal to charge the lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) battery chemistries, found in the Shanghai built and soon also in the Fremont built Standard Range Plus Model 3s, to 100% at least once a week and it’s also perfectly fine to charge to 100% on a daily basis.
Irrespective of the battery chemistry, however, to save wasting your time at Superchargers and unnecessarily taking up this important infrastructure, please be mindful of how busy the charger is. If you feel the need to charge to 100% and if you have plenty of time, during off-peak times when Superchargers are hardly used, it is perfectly fine to squeeze in every last watt but at busy times, vehicles taking up much needed charge bays while charging at a fifth or less of the charger’s potential is a burden on the infrastructure and not helpful to fellow EV owners.
Therefore, please consider only charging to a lower percentage and leaving the charging at the top state of charge levels for your home, BNB, or at overnight AC destination chargers such as those allocated to your room at hotels and EV-friendly resorts. You’ll only be doing yourself, your EV community and even potential new EV owners a big favour.
P.S. Special thanks to TOCWA Chairman Rob Dean for not only helping with this article but also for coming up with the idea for the test.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.