20 September 2023

EV inquiry recommends ways to cure 'charging anxiety'

| James Coleman
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Tesla charging in Goulburn

They’re limited to Teslas, for now. Photo: Stephen Ning.

The headline news for the iPhone 15, revealed last week, is that Apple has swapped out its ‘Lighting’ charging port for the same type used by Android for years – the USB-Type C.

But our own version of this is unfolding in the ACT where there are calls for the local government to encourage the Apple of the car world – Tesla – to make a similar change.

At the moment, if an electric vehicle (EV) charger says ‘Tesla’ on it – complete with the characteristic red and white colour combination – it can only charge a Tesla. These include the ‘Destination’ chargers at places like the Canberra Centre and the ‘Supercharger’ at Majura Park.

But a recent committee inquiry into EV adoption in the ACT recommends the best-selling US brand open up their charger network to all EV owners as part of a ‘non-Tesla Supercharger pilot’.

READ ALSO Canberra’s second favourite EV gets a facelift, but not everyone is sold

Tesla launched the pilot in November 2021 across a select number of countries, including Australia, to make “some” stations accessible to non-Tesla EV drivers, provided they have the Tesla app.

“It’s always been our ambition to open the Supercharger network to non-Tesla EVs, and by doing so, encourage more drivers to go electric,” Tesla says.

Chaired by Jo Clay from the ACT Greens, Labor’s Suzanne Orr and Mark Parton from the Canberra Liberals, the committee inquiry has spent the past 15 months gleaning comments from Canberrans on how to improve EV uptake in the Territory.

They handed down a list of 30 recommendations to the ACT Government on 15 September 2023, including one about “encouraging Tesla to include a charging location within the ACT in its pilot program extending the ‘supercharger’ network to non-Tesla vehicles”.

“The Tesla supercharger pilot program would provide a good opportunity to expand the ACT’s network of fast chargers,” the report read.

man standing next to a blue Tesla

Kingston resident Stephen Ning and his 2021 Tesla Model 3. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

It’s part of an attempt to address the main concern among today’s EV buyers – charging anxiety.

“A common media comment is that ‘charging anxiety’ (finding a queue or an out-of-order charger) is replacing ‘range anxiety’,” a submission by the ACT branch of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association (AEVA ACT) read.

AEVA ACT noted that out-of-service chargers are “a cause of considerable frustration among EV drivers and could erode public confidence in EVs”.

The local government maintains there are chargers at “appropriate intervals on major routes connecting the ACT with NSW”, but the numbers of chargers at each location are often “low”.

The committee recommended the government work with other jurisdictions to install more chargers along major routes to and from Canberra and singled out the “popular route” to the South Coast. Braidwood and Nelligen, on either side of the Clyde, as possibilities.

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Closer to home, the committee said it’s important there is a “more equitable geographic spread of chargers” at shopping centres, tourism locations and sporting facilities in the government’s plans to install 180 public chargers across Canberra by 2025.

They also said all residents – “regardless of what type of housing they are in” – should have access to an EV charger at their residence.

Inspired by schemes around the world, AEVA ACT suggested this take the form of retrofitting lamp posts in new suburbs like Wright, Coombs, and Denman Prospect with power sockets so those who park on the street can still charge up their EVs.

“Similarly, lamp posts around shopping, cafes and other commercial precincts that depend on-street parking could be retrofitted,” the submission read.

EV charging

Councils and charge point operators in NSW can apply for a slice of $3 million to install a kerbside EV charger until 17 November. Photo: NSW Government.

For those in apartment complexes, the committee acknowledged the sheer cost of adding EV charging capability, from running cables to upgrading the building’s – and sometimes the whole street’s – electrical substation.

They recommended the ACT Government provide “one-off grants” to body corporates so they can assess whether their building can be retrofitted to accommodate charging infrastructure and how much it would cost.

The committee even had a recommendation for those who don’t own their own home.

“The committee is of the view that renters who own EVs should not be restricted in their ability to access appropriate charging infrastructure and that landlords should be incentivised to install charging infrastructure for their tenants.”

READ ALSO Territory celebrates new electric vehicle milestone with consumer comparison tool

Then there’s the question of where all this power is coming from, especially as the ACT Government prepares to phase out gas connections and wood burners by 2045 and place even greater demand on the electrical grid.

In its submission, Evoenergy described EV charging as “quite a substantial load, relative to a dishwasher, a refrigerator or any of those sorts of items” and that it would have “a material impact on the ACT electricity network in the upcoming years”.

Its long-term modelling indicates the ACT’s electricity demand by the winter of 2045 will reach almost 1000 megawatts, or more than 100 per cent more than the current winter peak.

The ACT Government maintains EV charging has had a smaller impact on the grid than expected but admits it needs to undertake a new study “due to EV uptake being higher than expected”.

The committee asked the government to reveal this modelling by the last sitting week of 2023 (28 to 30 November).

The ACT Government will consider the inquiry’s findings over the coming months.

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GrumpyGrandpa9:20 pm 22 Sep 23

The push to install EV charging infrustucture in apartment block and shopping centre car parks, let alone in the family garage is a disaster waiting to happen. The attached video is predominantly about off-gassing that occurs if a battery breaks down. Those gases are highly toxic and could be a death trap.

Worth a watch.


PC__LoadLetter10:13 am 26 Sep 23

Whether the charging occurs in the basement is irrelevant. EV batteries become unstable after a serious impact, not when they’re charging.

If anything, basement charging can reduce the risks. Since I started charging in my basement parking, I dropped my car’s charging goal to 60%, except on days I plan to do a really long drive. When I charge publicly, I’d charge to 90% whenever I’m near a charger (e.g. the parking station on Non-WFH days). That means if my car ever had a thermal runaway, where the energy in the battery is released to the outside world as heat, it’d take up to 1/3 longer to burn itself out & do 1/3 more damage, as there’s more energy to release.

EV safety means parking the car somewhere away from buildings, infrastructure & other vehicles for 3 days after a moderate to serious impact. Which usually happens anyway in tow truck operator & insurance assessors lots.

GrumpyGrandpa5:56 pm 22 Sep 23

The Australian Electric Vehicle Association (AEVA ACT) must be on another planet.
Why should the ACT taxpayer meet assessment costs for the owners of the apartments? It’s their “house”; their expense.

And then, to expect the Government AKA taxpayers to incentivise landlords to install charging infrastructure for their tenants; seriously?
Why should taxpayers subsidise landlords, but more importantly, why should a private landlord be expected to install charging infrustructure to enable EV charging?

PC__LoadLetter3:20 pm 22 Sep 23

While the focus of public charging within cities should be more about tens of thousands of $750 slow chargers instead of a handful of $50k rapid chargers, did you know that (not counting the airport) all the rapid chargers in Canberra are south of the lake? As an Uber driver in a short range Tesla, long trips to Gunners or Belco on a cold night (when you use the most power) make me anxious.

PC__LoadLetter3:17 pm 22 Sep 23

One of the big problems with EV chargers on highways is they are usually the really fast units with the heavy cables & plugs. They’re great for most, but difficult to manage for the elderly, people with arthritis, amputees etc.

Tesla chargers are fine, as are the slower chargers, but there are very few of those between here and Sydney. One at Goulburn (soon to be 3 once the 2 at KFC South are switched on), one at Marulan (2 if you double back to the opposite service centre), none at Sutton Forest (unless you’re driving a Tesla), one at Mittagong (which is always occupied by cheapskate locals), and one at Picton (which is way off the highway). The dozen at Pheasants Nest (6 each side) are borderline accessible – they should be fine once broken in.

PC__LoadLetter3:04 pm 22 Sep 23

Old info. The Tesla Superchargers at Tuggeranong Hyperdome have been open to non-Teslas for about a month now.

As for grid capacity, the easy fix is to require charging at all car parks used during the day – but limit the power supplied to almost zero whenever the sun isn’t shining & the wind isn’t blowing. The Tesla Gen3 Destination Chargers do this, cost $750 each, charge Non-Tesla cars, and can be configured to require payment (provided you install more than 6 of them). That way you can soak up surplus power over lunchtime, and protect the grid at other hours.

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