Diesel vs EV Across the Nullarbor, Which is Cheaper in Fuel?

The best comparison is to use two vehicles that are likely to drive across the Nullarbor on any given day. I know a few dozen Tesla Model Y SUVs have done it, including my own 4 times, and I also have no doubt a similar size 2022-24 Hyundai Tucson diesel SUV has more than once crossed the country.

The Journey
The section between the towns of Ceduna in the east and Norseman in the west is generally seen as the Nullarbor drive, a total distance of 1201kms, a sealed surface, 1 lane each way, mostly flat, virtually all 110kmh.

The cheapest fuel in the middle section of the Nullarbor is $2.52 per litre (March 2024).

Driving the Hyundai Tucson Diesel
The claimed fuel consumption for the 1.6 litre diesel is 6.3 litres per 100kms. Our Hyundai driver is very experienced at getting the best fuel consumption so I’ll round that down to 6 litres per 100kms, it also makes the arithmetic a bit easier. The Hyundai driver is also wise with his fuel purchases and will make use of the 800km range fuel tank by filling right up on the cheapest fuel in Ceduna at $1.96 a litre.
Despite the good range per tank the Hyundai driver still needs to stop for fuel once between Border Village and Caiguna Roadhouse, luckily there are 6 different fuel stops on that 350km section. According to this week’s diesel prices the cheapest is Eucla at $2.52 a litre, luckily the Hyundai driver doesn’t need to fill up, it’s only necessary to add 400kms of fuel or 24 litres, enough to scrape through to Norseman.
Ceduna 48 litres at $1.96 = $94.08
Eucla 24 litres at $2.52 = $60.48
Trip total for diesel $154.56.
Why not use the cost to refill at the end of the trip instead of the start? Norseman diesel has averaged $2.14 during 2024, that would cost more, the Hyundai driver is smarter than that.

The EV SUV Using March 2024 Charging Options
My Model Y has averaged 15.3kWh per 100kms over the past 43,000kms, so to make the arithmetic easier I’ll round that up to 16kWh per 100kms.
At 16kWh per 100kms the Model Y range is limited to 460kms, this requires a minimum two charging stops after the initial charging at Ceduna. To make the journey without any compromise I’ll go for a more expensive 3 charging stops at Nullarbor, Mundrabilla and Caiguna. Despite paying a flat all you can charge fee of $32, $30 and $50 respectively I’ll only be adding 65-70% to the battery at each stop.
Ceduna 48kWh x 60 cents per unit = $28.20
Nullarbor flat fee $32
Mundrabilla flat fee $30
Caiguna flat fee $50
Trip total for electricity $140.20.

The EV SUV Using July 2024 Charging Options
From July onwards DC charging options will improve rapidly on the western side of the Nullarbor with 4 Horizon sites powered with solar energy. Any improvement on the eastern side of the Nullarbor in Q3 2024 will depend on the NRMA following through on another media release claiming the Nullarbor and Border Village Roadhouse will be getting DC charging soon, if that happens all fast DC charging from Ceduna to Norseman will be 60 cents per unit making the arithmetic easy.
192kWh x 60 cents per unit = $115.20

Unfortunately for the diesel vehicle owner there’s very little hope for an improvement in fuel costs, 5 competing fuel suppliers at 11 fuel stops are burdened with transporting fuel over long distances adding to the expense. On the other hand EV charging has two aces up its sleeve, first and foremost electricity can be made on site at a reasonable cost with renewable energy, a good example is the Horizon DC chargers being installed in remote areas of Western Australia that are solar powered. Secondly EV charging in Australia is still in its infancy, competition is yet to arrive.

The Horizon Power WAEV Network charger at Norseman is 60c/kWh.

Is it Cheaper to Drive an EV Across the Nullarbor? Yes, but there’s a catch.

There has been a fair bit of discussion lately about the cost of recharging an Electric Vehicle compared to the cost of refueling a petrol/diesel vehicle on road trips. There is nothing like taking a set of near matching petrol and electric BMWs with a combined drive away price of $600,000 to prove that the petrol version is $14 cheaper to drive from Melbourne to Sydney. To be fair the energy consumption figures, energy prices and math couldn’t be faulted, I also commend those running the trial for getting out from behind the desk and conducting a physical test.

Nullarbor Roadhouse Fuel bowsers.

On the other hand the Climate Council put out a report claiming that road trip bills in Australia could be reduced by a 1/4 to a 1/5 driving an EV instead of a petrol car, now if “COULD” was in block letters with a disclaimer saying *EV must be driven within 300kms of home solar I could accept that, but no they double down by claiming Melbourne motorists looking to explore the Nullarbor Plain could save $594 by driving a battery-electric vehicle on holidays rather than an average petrol car. How accurate is that?

Despite the average DC charging cost between Melbourne and Perth being a very reasonable 65 cents per unit and fuel prices being high between (and including) the Nullarbor Roadhouse and Norseman (905kms), an electric car will be approximately 10% to 20% cheaper to fuel over the whole 3420km trip, that’s a $60 to $120 saving depending on the vehicles involved, the capacity of the petrol tank and how savvy the petrol car driver is. I think it’s best the Climate Council EV experts get out from behind their desk and go for a long drive to see how the real world lives.

WA EV Network & RAA of SA chargers currently cost 60c per unit.

So why is there a catch?
I have said this a number of times previously: Under most scenarios the fastest and cheapest way to get across the Nullarbor is to fly on a commercial jet, the whole event from home to hotel on the other side of the country is less than 6 hours, even in a petrol car a fast trip takes 2 full days. If you’re concerned about petrol or electricity costs you should also consider money spent on other items during your journey, such as food and drink and opportunistic purchases.

Always remember driving across the Nullarbor is an adventure not a money saving venture.

Using the Delta chargers across the Nullarbor

The four Delta 22kW DC chargers located between Norseman and Ceduna were crowd funded by the Australian EV community in two stages, the first two in early 2022 and the recent two in December 2023. Although nowhere near as fast as the hard wired DC chargers at locations such as Norseman and Streaky Bay in SA the Delta DC chargers are a reliable solution until government funded fast DC is rolled out from late 2024 onwards.

Despite proving to be very reliable the Delta chargers require patience and methodical following of the instructions or users will find themselves wasting valuable time. I’ve used these four chargers a combined total of 18 times in less than 2 years, heed my advice to save yourself a lot of frustration.

1. Only plug in when the charger LED screens displays “connect to EV”, plug in firmly and don’t have a stretched cable.
2. Check charging has started, if the car displays “charging stopped” unplug, close the charging port and reconnect when the charger displays “connect to EV”.
3. Once charging has clearly started check back in after 5 minutes, if charging stops it’s highly likely to be in the first 5 minutes. I’ve never had a charging session stop after 5 minutes but that’s not to say it won’t happen, if you have phone coverage use the app to check every 30 minutes or so.
4. Don’t sit in the car with the aircon running while connected to 22kW or slower charging, it consumes valuable power that should be charging the cars battery, if you want aircon comfort sit in the Roadhouse Cafe.
5. Be thoughtful how you park, all 4 locations are in areas with other activities going on, look around and consider if you may be blocking access and potentially getting your car scratched by a room service trolley.
6. If you’re planning to stay overnight DO NOT leave your car plugged into the charger ready for the morning, there’s only one charging option at each location, leave the charger accessible for other EVs.

Balladonia
If you’re wise you would have charged to at least 98% at the Norseman 150kW DC charger (if driving east), every 6 minutes at Norseman saves you 30 minutes at Balladonia, and a few dollars.
To speed up the process at Balladonia get the passenger to jog in to the Roadhouse Cafe and ask for the EV charger key while the driver parks around the back. Once the key switches on the charger the start up process takes approximately 90 seconds, a good opportunity to get shade on the car.
At the end of the charging session and just before charging stops use your phone to take a photo of the kWh consumed on the Delta LCD screen, make sure the photo is readable for the Roadhouse staff. Don’t forget to return the key when paying for charging.

Madura Pass
Park in front of the rusty vintage car and request EV charging in the fuel shop, a staff member will wheel the charger in to position and instruct you where to park, if you’ve parked in front of the vintage car you’ll only need to reverse up a few metres. Payment is to the RFDS in the fuel shop. Opening hours are strictly 7.00am to 5.00pm AWCT.

Mundrabilla Roadhouse
The Delta charger is located inside the accommodation compound on the western side of the Roadhouse building, in the middle of the day parking is easy but before 8.00am and after 3.00pm you’re likely to have to deal with vehicles parked in front of the rooms, it’s wise to reverse park so you won’t get blocked in. This charger is switched on ready for immediate use.

Nullarbor Roadhouse
The Delta charger is at the rear of the laundry on the western side of the building, reverse parking with the black water tank on your passenger side will provide morning shade as well as not block the laundry ramp. This charger is currently kept switched on so connection to the car is almost immediate. At the time of writing a fixed payment is made at the cash register and your receipt must be clearly displayed on the car dashboard whilst charging.

I hope this information assists you to have smooth and happy travels whilst crossing the Nullarbor.

The EV Charging Bottleneck Soon to Arrive on the Nullarbor

Before I continue let me make something very clear, if you want to travel between Perth and the East Coast in the fastest, safest and often cheapest manner book an airline flight and get it over with, driving the Nullarbor is not for you.

Last week my wife and I completed our 7th trip across across the southern part of the country in an EV. By carrying the correct charging cables, studying Plugshare, having a flexible plan for overnight stops and not attempting to drive unrealistic distances in one day the journey is reasonably straight forward, it’s a trip many other EV owners make without any issues, in fact some of the staff at various locations along the route are guessing that 3-4 EVs pass through every week, that’s manageable on the current charging infrastructure but not for very much longer.

The Nullarbor Roadhouse three phase plug on the wall behind has been used to charge EVs more that 180 times.

The near future

From the West a series of fast DC chargers are now open (Merredin, Southern Cross) or within days of being open to the public (Coolgardie and Norseman). These WA EV Network chargers cover 722kms and could easily handle 5 to 6 cars in a one hour window, that’ll be sufficient for the next 2 or 3 years of EV growth. Through to mid 2024 WA EV Network DC fast chargers will continue being installed towards the east before stopping 78kms from the WA/SA border. This is a commitment the WA Government made in 2022 and appears to be on schedule.

From the East the RAA of SA are installing fast DC chargers at Port Augusta, Kimba, Wudinna, Streaky Bay and Ceduna, on our recent trip we noticed a few of the these chargers appear ready to be switched on for public use, they’ve been a long time “coming soon” and will make a massive difference driving between Port Augusta and Ceduna, 2 to 4 hour charging stops every 250kms will be reduced to 15-20 minutes every 200-250kms. Once the DC chargers east of Perth and west of Port Augusta are open to the public the number of EVs travelling across the country will rapidly increase from 3 to 4 per week to 3 to 4 per day at the very least. Not every EV owner wants to drive across the country but the many who do have often said they’ll do it when a few more DC chargers get installed, I’m confident the floodgates are about to open.

A number of these “Coming Soon” pins on Plugshare are weeks away from going live. Filtered to DC charging only.

The gap:

Considering the last DC charger east will be Ceduna and from the west Mundrabilla Roadhouse this leaves a gap of 558kms, not a problem for 3 or 4 cars per week as there’s currently 3 phase charging at Penong, the Nullarbor Roadhouse and Border Village, but when there are multiple cars per day the capacity of those outlets won’t be anywhere near enough. To add insult to injury the RAA of SA plan to install no more than a type 2 32amp single phase charger at Border Village, Nullarbor and Yalata, in effect two of the locations will be downgraded by a factor of 3. To look at it another way at Ceduna the RAA will have a rapid DC charger capable of charging at least 3 cars per hour, at the Nullarbor Roadhouse it will take 1 car 8 hours to charge.

Who is providing a solution?

A team of volunteer EV owners led by Jon Edwards who was the designer, builder and driving force of the Caiguna Biofil  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-17/first-fast-charger-for-electric-vehicles-installed-on-nullarbor/100762138  is both raising money and making every attempt to install at least one and hopefully two low power DC chargers in the 558km gap between Ceduna and Mundrabilla. Yet again, it’s the volunteers stepping up when business groups who receive taxpayer funds to build charging infrastructure are too slow to act. You can donate to the cause at TOCEVA Racing.

Who could provide a solution?

Climate and Energy Minister Chris Bowen likes to talk a good game, continual media releases, Facebook posts and Tweets promoting EVs. He’s certainly one of the reasons for a rapid increase in EV sales over the past year, perhaps he could step in and prompt the fast tracking of one or two DC chargers at Penong, Yalata or the Nullarbor Roadhouse.

The RAA of South Australia could seriously reconsider the decision to place a low powered single phase outlet at the Nullarbor Roadhouse. The RAA don’t mind a bit of publicity, 5 or 6 EVs queuing up at an RAA branded trickle charger in the harsh environment of the Nullarbor Plain is not the good publicity they think it is. C’mon RAA, install something useful and everyone’s a winner.

The NRMA are keen for new members, there’s no better way to promote their business and show how committed they are to current and future members by installing a similar DC charger to the one recently installed at Erldunda Roadhouse  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-11/electric-car-tesla-charging-prototype-outback-stuart-highway/102953618  in central Australia. Of course the best action is to install one before there’s a bottleneck rather than “coming soon” media releases.

The last and seemingly easiest action that would ease the bottleneck rather than fix it would be for Ampol  https://ampcharge.ampol.com.au/find-a-charging-station  to install a 75kw or larger DC charger at the Ampol service station in the small town of Penong. Below is Ampol’s mission statement, there would be no better way to back that statement than engaging with the Australian EV community that wish to drive across the country. “Powering better journeys, today and tomorrow. Our company has always been about more than fuel. Fuel may be the foundation of our business, but our motivation and purpose comes from the people, businesses, industries and communities we engage with.”

This is no longer a case of build it and they will come, it’s important that it’s built before they arrive.

Update March 2024: The NRMA have now installed their solar/battery DC charger at Nullarbor Roadhouse.

So you want to drive an EV across the Nullarbor?

Last Updated: May 2024

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.

Before I continue I want to make something very clear: If you aim to get across the country as quickly as possible in your EV it can only be done with planning and patience. Trying to rush will not gain you any time but it’s highly likely you will lose time by; unplugging too early, not reading the Plugshare comments, and lastly not respecting the opening and closing times clearly marked on the Plugshare description.

By early 2024 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. Edit: it has become very apparent that the number of EVs crossing the Nullarbor have increased significantly through November and December 2022, there is a chance you could arrive at a charge point that is already in use, it is in your best interest to plugshare your journey so other drivers can liaise with you. The simple 30 second task of checking into plugshare by yourself and other EV travelers could save you 3 or 4 hours of wasted time at the next charge stop.
  • 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). Even carriers using the Telstra network do not work.
  • 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.

Port Augusta

Edit December 2023: Port Augusta now has a 200 kW DC charger located on the waterfront adjacent to the Majestic Oasis Apartments courtesy of RAA of South Australia.

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.

Kimba

Edit November 2023: Kimba now had a 150 kW DC charger located at the Kimba Caravan Park on the Eyre Highway courtesy of the RAA of South Australia. There are also two 7 kW type 2 chargers at the Kimba Bowling Club next to the excellent free camp. Prior to these upgrades below is what the EV community relied on.

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.

Wudinna

As of November 2023 Wudinna has a 150 kW DC charger located at Wudinna Hall courtesy of the RAA of SA.

Poochera

Thanks to Jeff and Karen for offering a charging service since May 2016 after a visit by WA Tesla owners Matt and David. Due to the opening of the Kimba, Wudinna and Streaky Bay DC chargers, from February 2024 the 3 phase is no longer available. The small caravan park is still available for bookings.

Ceduna East-West Motel / Streaky Bay

Update April 2024: The Ceduna RAA DC Charger is now operational next to the hotel on the foreshore.

Edit November 2023: Streaky Bay is now an option with the installation of the 150 kW DC Charger at the Well Street carpark courtesy of RAA of SA.

Work on the Ceduna DC site has not commenced (under the contract the RAA of SA must have this installed by the end of February 2024, this is a critical piece of charging infrastructure), the East-West Motel is currently the best charging option in Ceduna. There are 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. A nice overnight stop.

The Nullarbor Roadhouse

Update March 2024: The NRMA have installed a solar/battery powered DC charger, it has 2 separate 75kW chargers.

Edit December 2023: There is now a 22 kW DC CCS2 charging unit in place.

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 approx $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.

Border Village

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. Roadhouse hours allow you still order food as late as 8.30pm AWST.

Eucla

This site is no longer allowing EV charging.

Mundrabilla

Edit December 2023: There is now a 22 kW DC CCS2 charging unit in place. Update March 2024: This site has reverted back to the 3 phase option only.

This charger is situated outside one of the motel rooms, payment is approx $25, 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.

Madura Pass

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.

Cocklebiddy

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.

Caiguna Roadhouse

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.

Balladonia

At the rear of the western side of the main building is another crowd funded 22kw DC charger, the payment is $2.00 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 $2 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.

Norseman

Edit December 2023: The WA EV Network 150 kW DC charger is now available, this saves considerable time for those contemplating the Nullarbor drive. The nearby showers and toilets are unlocked between 8am and 6pm.

Rob and Robin have crossed the Nullarbor 5 times in their Tesla Model S and charged at each location multiple times.

Explaining the Nullarbor EV Chargers

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.

Balladonia 22kw CCS2 DC charger

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 22kw CCS2 DC charger

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. Note: as at April 2024 not available due to plug issue.

Mundrabilla, 116kms from Madura and 81kms from Border Villa, now has a 22kw CCS2 DC charger plugged into the 32amp 3 phase outlet. Note: as at April 2024 3 phase only available.

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. Note: this location is no longer available for EV charging.

Nullarbor Roadhouse 32amp 3 phase

Nullarbor Roadhouse, 197kms drive from Eucla, has a 22kw CCS2 DC charger plugged into the 32amp 3 phase outlet at the rear of the building close to the motel units. Note: April 2024 NRMA DC charger now in place.

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 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.

“The Electric Highway. Plugging the gap!”

This is the latest video from Tesla owner and TOCWA committee member Steve Rogers.

Driving across the Nullarbor can be fun the first time, but requires a huge amount of patience on subsequent trips. An alternative is putting your car on a train to Adelaide and continuing your journey from there.

Currently the journey in EV requires longer stops on AC charging only, this is soon set to change, check out this video to see why.

If you would like to donate to The Big Lap has Gaps fundraiser you can find the link here. If you are not able to donate please share.