The recently released EV sales figures by the EV Council of Australia provides a stark reminder of how poor the generic (non-Tesla) charging infrastructure is in this country.
The EVCs figures show that 3.39% of all light vehicles sales for Q1,2,3 2022 were electric, this includes Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEV). When those figures are broken down it also shows that two vehicles dominated EV sales, the Tesla Model 3 and Tesla Model Y, these two variants alone made up 53.2% of EV market share, the other 46.8% was from a combination of 93 variants. If you remove the 35 PHEV variants from the figures Tesla has a 64% share, it also shows that despite the Electric Vehicle Council highlighting a figure of 3.39% the reality is removing Tesla and PHEVs from the sales figures reduces this to 1.007%, in effect the 58 variants of pure EV that do not have a Tesla badge make up just 1% of the light vehicle market. This large difference in sales between Tesla and the remainder is made even more interesting when you consider Tesla do not spend money on advertising.
Despite claims of purchase price and lack of choice deterring Australians from buying an Electric Vehicle I have no doubt the biggest barrier is a fear of being unable to charge away from home, petrol and diesel vehicles have been extremely convenient in regional areas for decades and the buying public expect no compromises. For a Tesla owner who lives close to or between one of the 5 east coast mainland capital cities charging is reliable and convenient due to the Tesla Supercharger network, in the south west of the country Tesla owners have a similar convenience. Each location has a minimum 3 and sometimes 8 charging cables, the reliability rate is extremely good. On the other hand, non-Tesla EVs (legacy auto) must rely on a mix of different branded chargers with a variety of payment systems. These DC chargers are few and far between with only 1 or 2 units at each location and many being broken or out of operation for weeks at a time, the situation is shambolic and the EV buying public are becoming very aware of the problems. Tesla currently have only two variants of EV for sale in Australia with an average purchase cost of $80,000, price and lack of choice has very little bearing on a sale, a convenient and reliable charging infrastructure does.
Unfortunately, the Federal governments promised “DC chargers every 150kms” is just a talking point that will continue through to the next election. Every month of delay is crushing legacy auto while at the same time helping cement Tesla as the dominant sales leader for many years.
You cannot charge Electric Vehicles from media releases.
Clearly the quicker (and possibly cheaper) option is to travel across Australia on a commercial jet, so if you’re not sure you have the patience and planning skills take the airport option. For those more adventurous read on.
By late 2023 the WA state government will have enough fast DC chargers installed between Perth and Eucla to provide a fairly comfortable trip, once you get into South Australia its anyone’s guess, SA do have a charging rollout planned but it’s very Adelaide centric, so for the next 12 months or so most charging requires knowledge and patience.
To keep this a moderate length read I’ll focus on the drive between Port Augusta and Norseman, a distance of 1,670km. There is already an article on TOCWA’s website discussing the Perth to Kalgoorlie section.
The road – It’s generally good the whole way with a long sections of chip seal surface that increases energy consumption. There are no overtaking lanes but considering it’s mostly flat and straight with good visibility overtaking is relatively easy. Despite the road being good I highly recommend you take a full size spare tyre and wheel combo, in the unlikely chance you get a tyre issue it will be a major one rather than a slow leak from a tech screw. Be aware Roadhouses don’t replace tyres, they sell fuel, food and drink.
What to do/take:
Make sure your cold tyre pressures are correct, keep monitoring those pressures throughout the journey.
Study Plugshare thoroughly before you leave, especially the comments. While charging during the journey check Plugshare for your next stop just in case there’s any late changes. Always check into Plugshare so other EV drivers on the Nullarbor can plan ahead.
Take the correct charging cable plus plan B and C cables. The correct cable is a 3 phase Juice Booster 2 or KHONS cable, the Tesla GEN2 UMC to 3 phase tail is a plan D and should NOT be used on Nullarbor 3 phase outlets unless you’re desperate.
I can not stress how important it is to follow the mantra of ALWAYS BE CHARGING, do not cut your charging session short at a working charge point because you think the next one is faster or cheaper.
Telstra is the only choice for any chance of phone reception (of course if you fit in your roaming Starlink dish you’re king of the Nullarbor).
Keep yourself busy and the charging time won’t appear so slow, Nullarboring is a term used by people with no imagination.
Have the BOM app on your phone – The air temp and wind direction can have a big effect on your range, plan ahead and add more charge than you require to be safe.
Take a relaxed attitude about the facilities, most of the infrastructure is pre 1976, it’s generally clean but worn out. Producing clean water, electricity and keeping everything operational is expensive due to being so far from a capital city so don’t expect much value for money. Take note that due to staff shortages most locations have cleared up the dishes, closed the bar and hopped off to bed far earlier than you expect.
Wear a Diplomatic hat – like much of the country, regional areas are struggling to find staff, those on site are working long hours, you are one of a hundred customers that day. Keep in mind by allowing EVs to charge Roadhouse management are doing you a favour rather than making a profit from selling electricity.
Understand that some new staff members have no idea the business has a charge point, it can be a interesting conversation.
Leave early arrive early, getting on to the road just before sunrise is a great way to start the day, plan your first charging stop for a late breakfast. Traffic is almost non existent in the early morning, visibility is good and it’s easier to spot wildlife. By late afternoon it’s best to be parked up with the car on charge while the rest of the tourists are frantically racing to their next destination while driving into a blazing sunset with no hope of seeing a Roo about to smash the headlights.
Take into account as you drive east you’ll lose an average of 15 minutes of daylight every 400kms, on the drive west you’ll gain 15 minutes.
Be very aware of the change in time zones as the Nullarbor also has its own AWCT time from Cocklebiddy to the WA border, you may roll up to a Roadhouse thinking its 6.30pm when it’s actually 7.15pm and the staff have locked up for the evening.
What not to do:
Do not plug in without seeking permission, if you have a passenger get them to go seek out a staff member while the driver parks up and gets the cable ready.
Do not Hypermile, it’s not necessary with the biggest gap between chargers being 200kms. It may be okay to drive slower in the early hours of the morning when the roads are virtually free of traffic but during daylight hours anything less than 90kmh has the potential to aggravate other road users.
During overnight stops don’t try and charge too fast if you don’t need to, plan to have your car finish charging just before expected departure. If you charge at the highest rate and the breaker trips during the night you may not realize and could end up wasting time in the morning.
Do not turn off the air conditioner on warm afternoons, a warm interior reduces driver concentration, set the aircon to 22.5C and all will be fine.
Do not drive fast through the RH car parks, most are Limestone and can be in poor condition with cavernous potholes that are difficult to see, on most occasions it’s less than walking pace or you may end up rattled.
Don’t plan to drive too far in one day especially if you’ve booked accommodation in advance.
It’s difficult to understand why PA doesn’t have DC chargers considering its on a T junction of 3 busy highways. There’s two AC charging options in town, we prefer to use the Majestic Apartments that are centrally located and very secure. The accommodation is very nice with washing machines and dryers in the rooms. Although it’s not necessary to be a guest to use the Tesla HPWC it’s wise to ring at least half a day in advance, ask permission and provide an accurate arrival time, that way the staff will place a witches hat in front of the car charger and open the security gates when they see you pull up. Reception normally refuse payment, a big thank you and some quality chocolate won’t go amiss though. Coles, Woolworths and Big W are all within 200 metres so you can stock up before heading west.
Milton tyres has been generously offering EV charging since May 2016, they recently upgraded to a 32amp three phase outlet that makes charging even easier. Payment is dependent on the length of stay. Keep in mind that unless prior arrangements are made this service is only available during business hours Monday to Friday.
This town is almost deserted but it has gem of a little old country pub with a 3 phase 32amp outlet that’s easy to access. The bad news is the Pub doesn’t open to 4.00pm, the good news is you can ring ahead and arrange payment via BSB. Jeff and Karen have kindly offered this service since May 2016 after a visit by WA Tesla owners Matt and David.
Ceduna East-West Motel
There’s two Tesla HPWCs with handy parking, payment is currently $25 at reception before plugging in. I highly recommend you take the 10 minute walk to the Ceduna Foreshore Hotel for a meal.
Penong Caravan Park
This location has handy 32amp 3 phase outlet located in the centre of the Caravan Park, payment is a $10 service fee plus 40cents a kWh, the service fee includes the use of the facilities such as showers and camp kitchen. Penong is another example of friendly South Australian country people making up for the lack of government support emanating from Adelaide.
The Nullarbor Roadhouse
The 3 phase outlet is on the rear of the main building to the left hand side as you look from the road, payment is $30 via the Cafeteria. Add plenty of extra charge at this location as a coastal headwind driving west could leave you struggling to get the next charge point.
As you may see from Plugshare comments Trevor is the go to person at this location, ask for him at reception and he’ll guide you around to the rear workshop. Charging is strictly limited to 20amp 3 phase, that’s okay if you have a model 3 or Y drawing 3 x 16amps but it’s also where the Tesla Gen2 UMC to 3 phase tail comes unstuck, charging at 20amps single phase is unnecessarily slow. Charging is complimentary in the hope that you’ll sit down for a meal or stay overnight.
This site is no longer allowing EV charging.
This site has a 32amp 3 phase outside one of the motel rooms, payment is $40 all you can charge but management would much prefer charging in daylight hours or at least avoided between 9.00pm and 6.00am due to the electricity system they have in place.
Pro tip- Stand just inside the roadhouse doorway to gain Telstra reception.
The good news is Madura has a crowd funded 22kw DC charger in the old garage next to the fuel bowsers, the bad news is that due to staff shortages the garage door is only open from 7.00am until 5.00pm. I would advise not to arrive in the late afternoon as at 5.00pm the power is switched off, the doors closed and the fuel attendant rushes off to serve food in the bar, such is life on the Nullarbor currently. Be aware that all but one of the staff at Madura are extremely friendly, unfortunately one has an allergy to Electric Cars and is best left alone. Payment is a donation to the RFDS.
An easy 32amp 3 phase to find, right next to the large Eagles cage with a sign that says TV outlet. The sit down meals here are always worth a try. RFDS donation for payment.
This location has the famous Biofil DC charger that was installed in January 2022, this 50kw unit is powered by a converted diesel generator that consumes used cooking oil from the roadhouse kitchen. Despite some difficulties with solidified fuel on cold winter mornings the Vegpod has served its purpose by encouraging the WA state government to extend the DC charger network across to the WA border. Payment is a $50 service fee plus cost for energy used, staff are required to start to unit. Update 5/11/2022: Nullarbor Roadhouses are still struggling to find staff, Caiguna employees are extremely busy and will start the generator if you contact them well ahead. My suggestion is to avoid stopping here for a DC charge until their circumstances improve. By all means stop in and grab some food and drink or charge from 15 amp overnight.
At the rear of the western side of the main building is another crowd funded 22kw DC charger, the payment is $1.00 per unit as recorded on the DC chargers screen. You will need to go into reception first to get a key. Be patient and follow the instructions exactly or the whole 2 minute process will have to repeated. Be warned, don’t skimp on charging here because it’s $1 a unit and the next location is a flat fee for all you can charge, that method may leave you short of range and possibly stranded.
Ring at least half a day ahead during shire office hours and arrange the $37 payment via BSB or dropping into reception (a 7 minute walk from the 3 phase outlet at the oval). Make sure you provide contact details and your number plate as one or two greedy EV owners have plugged in without prior arrangement. If you walk for 4-5 minutes directly east from the oval you’ll locate some public toilets and a laundry.
Rob and Robin have crossed the Nullarbor 5 times in their Tesla Model S and charged at each location multiple times.
The influx of new electric vehicle models (EVs) and especially the recent arrival of the Tesla Model Y, heralds a rush of EV owners listing their “old” EVs for sale as they swap or upgrade to the new hotness.
I then saw this recent article by a well respected publisher in the Western Australian automotive community. It really ground my gears! “grinded my gears”? Who knows!? 🤷♂️ I was frustrated.
The article is a problem in my opinion because it might leave a used EV buyer to have misinformed expectations about electric vehicles and their batteries. So to set the record straight, I’m going to quote a few sections from said article, and correct the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). Hopefully those who care for the details, and getting an EV with as much range remaining as possible, will appreciate the following explanations.
EV Batteries degrade like your phone. But much slower.
Degradation is the natural chemical process that an EV battery undergoes as it’s used. As energy goes in and out of the battery many many times, it loses the ability to retain the same amount of energy as it did when it was new.
Various studies, and Tesla’s own data, suggests the average degradation is around 1 per cent of the original capacity per year.
It doesn’t work like this, firstly because degradation isn’t a function of time, but closer to a function of kilometres (km) driven. The more energy in and out of the battery (its “cycles”) the more degradation. Lithium based batteries have a finite lifetime. This is why your phone battery won’t last as long 2 years in, compared to when it was new.
As you can see the degradation is mostly linear after about 50,000 km. But in the first part of the EVs life the capacity drops a little faster. In the case of a Tesla we know that some vehicles have well over 90% of the original capacity after many 100s of thousands of km. Other vehicles may be closer to 80% like mine (~2.5y old and 116,000k on the odometer/ODO).
It seems that how an OEM manages a battery has a huge role to play in the longevity of the battery and minimising degradation. I know someone with a gen1 Nissan Leaf who is down to 50% of the original capacity. These batteries are not liquid cooled like a Tesla and generally considered some of the worst cells on the used battery market because of the poor design.
You should definitely ask about the battery degradation
But don’t expect too much when it comes to your local “automotive workshop”. They probably won’t have a clue.
Most automotive workshops should be able to access this data by plugging into the onboard diagnostics (OBD2) port, or in some instances it could be relayed using remote connectivity.
In the case of a Tesla for example, the data you’re after isn’t accessible simply by plugging in a generic OBD2 link. Tesla also doesn’t make it easy to find on the vehicle’s user interface or in the mobile app. You will need a bit of DIY to install a relatively inexpensive adapter and download an app to connect to the car and capture the values.
Read on to see some tips on getting the exact figures from your seller.
Don’t try to reverse engineer estimated range into battery capacity
Between them it allows you to calculate the battery capacity and compare it to the original capacity.
No, it doesn’t.
Most EVs have a series of complex formulas, variables and historical driving data that form the “estimated range in km” displayed inside the vehicle. It’s for this reason that it’s often not useful to try to estimate battery degradation working back from these “range” numbers. The only reliable way to know is to extract the raw values from the car’s computer and use those. One example from a friends Tesla:
full pack when new: 52.4 kWh
nominal full pack: 48.2 kWh
Therefore this battery has 91.9% of its original capacity remaining. That’s about 8% degradation. That’s pretty normal I’m finding for a 2020 model and 24,000 km on the clock.
EV km and ICE km are not the same
Everything in a car is going to wear and degrade over time and especially when it’s under load or working hard. The moving parts are especially important in an ICE vehicle (Internal Combustion Engine; a non-EV) and this is why it’s conventional to use the km on the ODO as a primary indicator of the wear and tear and a big input to one’s assessment of the value of a used vehicle.
With EVs, this is not as important as the battery degradation. Yes, it will in most cases, correlate strongly with the km driven. But not always. An older EV driven very gingerly may have far less degradation than a near new EV with a young driver who wants to drag everyone at the lights.
An EV battery may be covered under a specific warranty
If the battery falls below this remaining capacity inside the age (years) or km driven, then the battery can be claimed for replacement under said warranty. This is good news for used EV owners and supports the real-world data we have measured above. A 10-year old Tesla is not going to be “dead” as I continue to see speculated online. It just won’t get you as far as it would have when it was new. Much like your phone. These EVs will change hands in the used car market for some time.
Ask your seller what the battery degradation is. It’s more important than km
Ask the dealer or private seller what the remaining capacity is. If they don’t know or haven’t already printed it out for you, they may know someone who can help them capture it and give you the figures. Use the above chart as a rough guide to see if the remaining capacity is average for the km on the odometer. This should give you an idea of how much work the vehicle has been subject to in its life so far. Higher values (remaining capacity) are obviously better and will correlate with fewer km driven.
If you don’t feel like you’re getting the answers you want or your seller strikes you as the kind that doesn’t really have a good handle on the workings of batteries, then reach out to the folks here at TOCWA. We have a very friendly community of EV enthusiasts willing to lend a hand or share helpful advice.
Happy (informed) shopping.
Matt is an EV and battery enthusiast. He and his children enjoy pulling apart kids’ toys and “upgrading” them with recycled lithium batteries. Matt has been a Tesla owner since 2020 and is passionate about helping others cross the chasm into the new world. Matt has friends that ride horses purely for leisure. Soon his friends with ICE cars will be driving them purely for leisure too.
Social media can be very challenging day after day, handy for staying in touch with distant friends and relatives but an often a battlefield of mistruths, aggravation and division.
Like many other discussion topics, a mention of Electric Vehicles brings out a vast amount of opinions for and against, you have three main choices to deal with it:
1. Delete all forms of social media and live happily ever after.
2. Scroll fast without reading the article or any comments.
3. I highly suggest you take up one of the first 2 options but if you want to engage please read the following:
There are two main types providing negative comments against EVs, those that just don’t know any better and are just repeating information they’ve seen/heard elsewhere without fact checking and those that know full well the information they’re providing is misleading/false. The second type are generally repeat offenders as they have skin in the game so to speak.
Only engage if you feel it’s absolutely necessary, if someone comments “I’ll stick to my V8 thanks” leave it be.
Have quality Australian based articles on EVs ready to go and provide the link when necessary.
Keep your comments polite no matter how abusive others become.
Keep in mind your comment/answer is aimed at the fence sitters more than the EV naysayer.
Provide evidence based facts not opinion.
For some responses a photo is worth a thousand words.
Mention your “EV” rather than your Tesla, being generic keeps prevents the discussion being side-tracked.
Be ready for the goalposts to be moved, when they are your comment has hit its target.
Avoid climate change discussion, many on social media only care about themselves.
Discuss energy independence, fuel and servicing savings, safety, performance, convenience.
The 21st Century is a world of self interest, tell them what they want to hear.
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.
Many of you will have seen the social media commentators
claiming how much range an electric vehicle needs, it normally goes like this:
“I’m all for electric vehicles and keen to buy one but unless it has X amount
of range I’ll stick with my trusty diesel”. As each year passes and the
range of showroom EVs increase the commentators X number also increases. This
is Uncertainty 101 from those with the most to lose when the country
transitions to electric drivetrains, it’s a very effective manipulation of all
the fence sitters that are close to making a new car purchase.
To make this very clear when I say 450km of range I’m referring to passenger vehicles, not commercial vehicles such as heavy duty four wheel drives that were purchased with the sole purpose of towing a caravan or large trailer over long distances. I’ll also make it very clear that 450kms is real range on coarse surface country roads sitting on 100km/h, this is where the range is needed most. Anyone buying a vehicle that never leaves the Melbourne to Cairns coastal corridor could easily survive on 350km of real range.
There’s no doubt that battery costs per kWh and energy density will improve sufficiently to make the fitting of large battery capacities fairly easy for vehicle makers That’s great for commercial vehicles but a waste of resources for the average Joe who for the vast majority of the year drives less than 200km per day and makes 2 to 3 long trips of maybe 2,000km, having a battery pack 20kWh or even 30kWh bigger than necessary is careless, multiply that by millions of average Joes across Australia and it’s a significant drain on materials, labour and energy that could be better used elsewhere.
So how does 450km of range deal with the vast distances of Australia? That’s a fair question and the answer is straight forward, carefully placed DC fast chargers are a far better use of materials, labour and finances than millions of EVs full of oversized battery packs. The careful placement part is critical, between the capital cities and larger towns 220km average spacings are suitable, for regional areas in north, west and central Australia there’s far less choice of suitable sites so a 300km spacing may have to suffice. A reasonably organized driver should have no issue stopping every 300km to add around 65% charge on a long country trip.
The author currently drives an electric vehicle with 400km of real range on Australian outback roads, and has been to every State and Territory over the past 6 years. His last vehicle was a diesel 4WD with 1,100 km range, it is not missed.
Many of you may have heard about the cheeky Facebook group “I ruined the weekend“. For those that haven’t its a full of photos and reports on how Electric Vehicle owners have made use of their vehicles going on long outback trips, visiting a country Vineyard, towing a Boat, and generally going about business as usual whilst driving electric rather than petrol or diesel. The Facebook group was a clever idea by long time West Aussie EV owner Ant Day, who like myself and hundreds of owners across Australia are thoroughly sickened by the continual fear campaign aimed at EVs. Politicians Scott Morrison and Michaela Cash claiming that Electric Vehicles will ruin your weekend was an audacious slogan that needed countering.
So why should you “Ruin your weekend”?
On one side of the fence we have a small but vocal group of EV owners supporting the electric transition, on the other side are the naysayers who believe EVs are not the answer, in reality this second group are people who know the electric transition will be detrimental to their business. In the middle are the fence sitters, the vast majority of Australians that have an interest in Electric Vehicles but struggle to separate fact from opinion from all the mud being thrown around, these are the potential owners that need to be convinced. It’s far better to do this with facts rather than opinion.
The best way to achieve this is prove it can be done, get out for a weekender to the country, tow the boat down to the ramp, go camping at some secluded location, go for an interstate trip, but most importantly leave the petrol car at home. Taking your EV to a place it’s apparently not supposed to be is a great conversation starter, it gets fence sitters attention and the conversation around the BBQ gets changed in a positive way. It’s no longer opinion, it’s fact, pessimism has been replaced with optimism. This is something the naysayers will never have, they can never show it can’t be done but you can show it can.