24 October 2018

Electric dreams: ACT's first Tesla Supercharger station puts Sydney in play

| Ian Bushnell
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The new Tesla Supercharger station at Majura Park: Faster charging and a longer range. Photos: George Tsotsos.

Tesla electric vehicle owners will now be able to charge up for the journey to Sydney in half an hour with the opening of Canberra’s first Tesla Supercharger station at Majura Park on Tuesday (23 October).

The Supercharger is capable of charging six Tesla electric vehicles at once and provides a driving distance of 270 kilometres, just shy of Sydney CBD but there is another Supercharger in Goulburn. There are two in Sydney, in Broadway and St Leonard’s on the lower North Shore.

Greens Member for Murrumbidgee Caroline Le Couteur, who opened the Supercharger with Labor Member for Yerrabi Suzanne Orr, said it would strengthen the existing network of electric vehicle charge stations across the region, including three rapid chargers and nine fast charge stations that are publicly available and accessible for all electric vehicle models.

The Government has also announced funding for 50 new charge stations across Canberra.

Ms Le Couteur said that by growing the electric vehicle network, the ACT continued to be a world leader in sustainability and renewable energy.

“It opens up a whole new world. If we’re going to make electric vehicles work in Canberra, we have to have lots of places where you can plug in and charge up,” she said.

“We’re next to a petrol station, so hopefully over a period of not so many years, all of the petrol service stations will start transiting to electric service stations. That’s what we need to do to have a sustainable transport system.”

Ms Le Couteur said the missing link from a Canberra point of view was the journey to the South Coast. “That’s the next big challenge,” she said.

There are Superchargers in Cooma and Narooma, with Nowra on the way.

The ACT’s Zero Emissions Vehicles Action Plan commits the Government to working with local and state governments to facilitate the installation of charging stations on major routes to and from Canberra, including routes to Sydney and coastal areas, tackling ‘range anxiety’ and promoting regional tourism and economic opportunities.

MLAs Caroline Le Couteur and Suzanne Orr join Richard Snow from Canberra Airport in opening the Supercharger station.

The opening of the Supercharger comes as The Guardian reported that another fast-charge network was being rolled out between Australia’s major cities.

It said Australian start-up Chargefox planned 21 sites on highways between Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane, to be powered entirely by renewable energy. Sites are also planned for Western Australia.

The “ultra rapid” stations would allow electric vehicles to add up to 400km of range in a fraction of the hours it took to charge at existing points, with the first two in Euroa in Victoria and in Barnawartha North just outside Albury-Wodonga on the Victoria-NSW border.

At a summit of climate action councils in Kiama last week, Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury encouraged local jurisdictions to consider joining the ACT to coordinate a ‘bulk buy’ purchase of electric vehicles for government fleets.

The ACT Government has also pledged that at least half of all newly leased ACT Government fleet passenger vehicles will be zero-emissions vehicles in 2019-20 (where fit for purpose) and from 2020-21 that all will be zero emissions vehicles.

“This presents a unique opportunity for the ACT Government to negotiate a better deal with manufacturers, when it comes to a ‘bulk buy’ of electric vehicles in our fleet,” he said.

“Working closely with other councils who may also wish to expand their electric vehicle fleets, this strengthens our negotiating position and signals that there is a strong and growing demand for electric vehicles in the Australian market. These efforts will ensure that Canberra and the region is well-placed to take advantage of this growing global trend, including the flow-on economic benefits.”

To find the location of Tesla Superchargers in Australia go here.

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Just imagine if there were lots of electric cars, and pulling into a charging centre to charge up the car and you find a queue of cars waiting already (as happens sometimes with petrol stations now). Getting petrol is relatively quick, but imagine if it took half an hour to charge each car. You could be waiting for hours and hours.

Not sure if you are aware, but electric cars are plugged in to the home charger every night. Its fully charged every morning. These superchargers are just for on-the-go long distance trips. And yes, supercharging stations will soon be nearly as ubiquitous as fossil-fuel stations re now.

Capital Retro5:19 pm 12 Nov 18

As a matter of interest, do you get the “off-peak” rates when you charge the EV at night, at home?

The second paragraph “270km” reference is incorrect. All Teslas in Australia have well over 400km of range—easily enough to get to Sydney. The car’s battery size dictates the range, not the charger.

Most will charge at home overnight anyway—just like an smart phone—for a full battery every day.

Capital Retro7:21 am 28 Oct 18

When an electric car travels on a cold and wet night necessitating use of headlights, electric heater and electric windscreen wipers, how much is the potential travel distance reduced?

Similarly, how much current is drawn by the air-conditioner on a hot day?

And given that we are heading for 100% renewable electricity in the near future, where is the electricity going to come from at night when everyone is charging their electric car in the garage at home on a calm and cold night?

Hi Capital Retro, those are two great questions!

On the first, the headlights, wipers and A/C use about 2kw of power. This means you lose 2kwh (around 8.5km) per hour driven during bad weather. The smallest Tesla Model S has 490km range so you’ll get to Sydney with about 160km to spare in the worst weather (300km and approx. ’30km’ of A/C etc.).

In relation to charging overnight, you generally set the time you want the car to charge in order to avoid peak power costs—this also avoids burdening the grid at peak times. With the average commute in Canberra of 24km per day, unlike a smart phone you’re not charging from empty each night, and you could set the charge to go from 3:00 to 5:00am if you wanted. At that time of night on 100% renewables, you’d be using wind or hydro and battery storage while the grid is at its lowest demand.

Capital Retro11:48 am 25 Oct 18

It is claimed that the charge points are “paid for by 100% private money. No Government involvement at all.”
Yeah, right.


I can’t see busy people hanging around for half an hour to charge their cars. This would only work if you could turn up and swap your Tesla for a pre-charged car, and pick up another charged car in Goulburn. Otherwise the car trip to Sydney will take four hours instead of three.

You don’t have to fully charge every time. Just a quick top-up, while you grab a coffee or snack.

Note: range of a fully charged Tesla Model S is over 400km at 110km/h, with the recommended 80% charge providing 320km range. The twenty minute visit to the supercharger will get the car to that 80% assuming there was any charge in the battery at all, if you have the charger all to yourself.

As for the South Coast, ACTEW was working on “Project Molongolo” to have DC chargers installed at various locations including Kings Highway to the coast: any idea what has happened with that?

Capital Retro12:40 pm 24 Oct 18

Given that these Tesla cars cost up to 3 times the price of a well equipped, efficient and economical running IC-engine car which can get to Sydney and back on a full tank of petrol without stopping (diesel versions can get there and back twice on a full tank) one has to wonder who would want one.

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