I lived with an EV for a weekend and it was … stressful

James Coleman 22 November 2021 182
EV charging

The Porsche Taycan 4S charging in the carport, thanks to many extension leads. Photo: James Coleman.

The lifting of lockdown in the ACT has seen barbers and hairdressers inundated with work for weeks as thousands seek to tame their manes.

Things on my head, for one, are so desperate that when working outside, my face mask doubles as a sort of bandana to prevent the wind picking up the strands of hair and whipping my eyeballs with it.

But finally, the day arrived. I would be seeing a barber in Civic. Order will be restored. I will see again!

Yes, this would mean parking at the Canberra Centre, on a Saturday, when the LEGO store was opening for the first time. It would be bedlam.

READ ALSO: LEGO fans line up round the block for opening of new Canberra store

But I wasn’t phased at all because Porsche Centre Canberra had loaned me their new Taycan for the weekend, the brand’s first fully electric sports car. There’ll be a full review next weekend, but for now, this is about the EV ownership experience and I thought it would be a breeze. After all, there are plenty of dedicated EV charging spots in the Canberra Centre car park.

I was wrong. Very wrong.

Having negotiated the stupidly tight entrance with five metres of very expensive metal, I found that all six EV charging stations were taken. Instead, I was left to fight over the normal spots along with literally every other Canberran.

I missed my appointment, and my hair is still in my eyes.

The generic charging stations are supplied by Jet Charge

Charging points in an underground car park. Image: Thomas Lucraft.

This is absolutely a First World Problem. But I am in an EV – a Porsche EV, no less – so there are only First World Problems.

This particular set of free and publicly available chargers comprises four Tesla Superchargers and two for everything else. After what felt like an eternity negotiating more stupidly tight turns and accidentally going against arrows, I resorted to dumping the Porsche in a Tesla spot. Maybe it’ll still work.

Nope, that would be too simple. Because Teslas are American and therefore different for the sake of it, the little light at the charging port refused to blink no matter how many contortions I pulled with my tongue while trying to plug the charging socket in.

It gets even worse.

So naive was I that I had saved this moment as the time I would charge up the batteries. I would go about my haircutting business and come back to a car at 100 per cent. At least that’s how it goes in all the ads.

To be honest, the situation wasn’t all that dire. The Porsche reckoned it still had about 180 km on it, but I was worried. It was Saturday morning and I had this car on test until Monday. I did not want it to run out in that time because I had no idea how I would charge it at home.

Charging port

Not quite as simple as a petrol flap. Photo: James Coleman.

There’s an assumption out there that everyone has a five-bedroom house with a garage and a yard. Easy – charge the EV overnight in the garage. Well, I live in a top-floor apartment, and not even Bunnings sells an extension cord long enough to stretch from behind the drinks trolley in my lounge room to the carport below.

This meant I had to ask Clement, the downstairs neighbour, power cord in hand and long-haired head hanging, for his precious electrons. Fortunately, we have already brokered a deal whereby I pay him a packet of cigarettes a month to use his carport, so this was a simple extension on that.

READ ALSO: It’s about time: Raiders fans the big winners in the 2022 NRL draw

But there it was, my $225,000 Porsche sitting in a carport, an extension lead running out of its side, across the driveway and underneath a screen door. It was undignified to say the least.

Thank you, Clement. I know that you had to contend with metres of power cord draped over your decor and that whenever you tried to make a coffee, the fuse blew. But what a small price to pay for saving the planet. Somehow.

It certainly paid off, too, because come morning, the battery percentage had risen from 34 per cent to 63.


The very handsome Porsche Taycan 4S, and a very long way in the distance, some windmills. Photo: James Coleman.

I should clarify that none of this is the car’s fault. The Porsche Taycan is a phenomenal machine. This rests entirely on human error.

If I owned the car, I no doubt would have fine-tuned some sort of system so that this predicament would not unfold in the first place. Not to mention that if I had a Porsche, I would also have a very big garage, with a proper, faster-charging setup installed.

But until there are more public charging stations out there, this will happen. Six in Canberra’s biggest shopping mall is nothing in the grand scheme of things, and as EVs become more and more popular, there will be many more like me, flustered and missing their haircuts.

Governments can’t begin to think about ramming EVs down while there are still shortcomings with the infrastructure.

I have no doubt we will get there. Technology marches on, and more charging stations are going up as I type. But for the moment, I am going to my rescheduled appointment this afternoon in my V6 Verada.

Check back next weekend for the review of the Porsche Taycan 4S.

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182 Responses to I lived with an EV for a weekend and it was … stressful
TimboinOz TimboinOz 4:55 pm 18 Nov 21

We own a 2015 model year Subaru Forester 2.5L. we bought it ~? April 2016 an ex exec. car. With SFA Kms on it. But it WAS a bargain!!!!

It has less than 50k kms on it. Despite two trips to Toowoomba and back. We are both in our 70s. We are most unlikely to sell it or replace it, ever!

OTOH we’ve had the maximum possible PV panels on our roof for a long while. the house is very well insulated – even the floor has foam under laminate over the T&G timber.
The ceiling fibre-glass has been added to 3 times (4 layers). the most recent was over 7 years ago. Walls are fully insulated with rock-wool fibre. The floors are typical 70s T&G with fibre nailed on from underneath. Plus laminated flooring over that with plastic cellular foam under that.
We bought the house in 81 because of its ideal alignment. it’s just 14.9 squares inside. Just enough for 2 adults and 2 sons.
The house runs due east-west and is on the North side of our Cul-de-Sac.

There’s a long and deep deck (>10 ms) along the Nth side of the house – clear-roofed – and with 91% shade cloth (2 X 70%) clipped under it. The East and NE side has 70% shade cloth down to waist height. The West side is 70% shade cloth down to the deck’s paved floor.

There are two deciduous trees, close to, on the Nth side. Plus 80 cm of fibre-cement lattice running along under the Nth facing side of the deck.

Some of us got it a good 3-4 decades ago!

Craig Best Craig Best 8:10 pm 15 Nov 21

One day our kids will look back and laugh at what we went though with early EVs, just like 25 years ago trying to get online with dialup connections.

Stephen Winter Stephen Winter 9:44 am 15 Nov 21

And to think, even if the shopping centre has solar on the roof these chargers would of been burning fossil fuels because of the lack of sun and high winds which prevent turbines from operating over the weekend.
But hey a future where we live in pre industrial times will be good for our health, very dark tho

    JS9 JS9 12:41 pm 15 Nov 21

    I find it astounding that people can see how the world has progressed and overcome far more insurmountable problems over the past few centuries then those associated with a transitions to a renewable dominated grid, yet somehow this is a ‘mountain’ that will never be overcome and we will all be left in the ‘dark’.

    It is the most enormous straw man.

    tim_c tim_c 4:41 pm 15 Nov 21

    I’d like to see you try telling that to the millions of Europeans who are currently anticipating shivering through a cold winter without enough electricity to run their heaters.

    JC JC 8:02 am 16 Nov 21

    Lucky then that many Europeans have natural gas boilers for their central heating.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:13 am 16 Nov 21

    Where does their natural gas from, JC?

    JS9 JS9 10:54 am 16 Nov 21

    My point being Tim was not that there are not intermittent issues to be overcome. But that there is zero reason at all to suggest they won’t be overcome – you read comments from some and it is like they are such insurmountable issues that they can’t be solved.

    Hint – they can and they will be.

JS9 JS9 9:36 am 15 Nov 21

So you basically are unhappy because your completely unprepared for having an EV, and therefore find an EV hard to effectively use because you did zero planning….

Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:19 am 15 Nov 21

Hawkshead West, in “those days” there were adequate petrol stations however their operating hours were strictly limited so indeed if you wanted to go somewhere at night or at weekends you had to plan carefully and usually this meant carrying spare petrol.

Please note that petrol can be stored in your house for the cost of a can and the contents but electricity can’t be simply poured into a container. You also can’t keep a spare battery for your EV and if you did they are not readily transported around in your boot nor are they “plug and play”.

    DJA DJA 3:41 pm 15 Nov 21

    Electricity can be poured into a container … a container we normally call ‘a battery’.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:53 pm 15 Nov 21

    When you are talking about electricity a battery is a pump, not a container.

    Remelliard Remelliard 9:22 am 16 Nov 21

    That is not correct Capital Retro – a battery is a container as it is “refillable” in this instance…. Let me enlighten you with the definition: “an object for holding or transporting something” – elecrticity is a physical substance (as per physics 101), hence a “something” in this instance.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:08 am 16 Nov 21

    Their are many people in Canberra with Honours Degrees in Hair Splitting which up to a point is entertaining. They always start the patronising dialogue with “I’ll enlighten you…..”

    I did say “electricity cannot be poured into a container” reflecting that it isn’t in liquid form but you have other ideas.

    Well, I’ll raise your claim with another and that is “a battery acts as a charge pump in a circuit, moving charge between terminals so as to supply an electric potential difference across the two ends of a circuit.”

    Your move, sparky.

    Remelliard Remelliard 11:25 am 16 Nov 21

    You are very good at Googling…. I applaud your efforts… but that is where it ends unfortunately…. your comments throughout this media forum are hilarious! Keep up the immusing work please…..

    A container “contains”…. that is pretty simple, even for you to understand I feel….

    Your move, Googler…..

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 1:28 pm 16 Nov 21

    Of course I Googled that info.

    At first I tried to Google a video of electricity being poured into a container which was the claim of DJA but nothing came up so I chose the simplest description of how battery is used as a pump for the benefit of all readers and also deniers like you.


    chewy14 chewy14 1:55 pm 16 Nov 21

    Capital Retro,
    Unfortunately your googling has failed you again because a battery can only act as a “pump” as you claim when connected to a circuit to realise the potential difference.

    A battery by itself however cannot act as a pump, it’s just an energy storage device, the same as your claimed petrol container.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 3:42 pm 16 Nov 21

    So how do I pour electricity into it and at what temperatures should it be at? Do I have to have a metal or plastic funnel?

    Ken Behren Ken Behren 1:09 pm 17 Nov 21

    Well said Chewy. RC. Checkmate on last game, set and match.

Hawkshead West Hawkshead West 6:46 am 15 Nov 21

I wonder if the early days after cars became a thing, a fully developed network of fuel stations appeared more or less instantly, or perhaps there was a period of transition, had to plan things. I guess in those days if you went somewhere that may not have had fuel stations you might have to carry fuel, and if you ran out of that then with no local fuel stations, that was a really big problem.

Then the paper would have really hilarious photos of horses pulling cars around questioning how anyone ever thought this car thing would take off!

    Peter Cook Peter Cook 11:58 am 15 Nov 21

    Hawkshead West Early days the less populous areas would sell petrol in metal cans.

d w d w 8:06 pm 14 Nov 21

I don’t believe they would have lent him a car that wasn’t charged or not given him charging info. Trying to create drama

Robert Cox Robert Cox 7:37 pm 14 Nov 21

“I missed my haircut because I had to park my car” is a hell of a thing to try and make a government infrastructure issue. Totally agree that there needs to be more charging stations if the government is ever actually going to get serious about pushing EV, but maybe just leave home earlier bud

    James Nasa James Nasa 9:56 am 15 Nov 21

    Robert Cox and they could definitely find a park that didn't charge their car for free one time if they were in a hurry. EVs are still compatible with regular parking too

    Robert Cox Robert Cox 9:58 am 15 Nov 21

    James Nasa yeah, exactly. Park literally anywhere, complain less about being given a Porsche if the problem is you can’t charge it at home

Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 6:44 pm 14 Nov 21

Looks like Canberra centre needs to up their game

    Peter Cook Peter Cook 11:57 am 15 Nov 21

    Russell Nankervis In a few years a good percentage of cars in the road will be EVs. Shopping centres will need to electrify entire wings of their parking lots if they want to dump negative-priced daytime solar power into customers cars and get paid by both the power company and the customers for the privilege. That process should probably begin now.

    Four chargers at the CCCP, all of them slow AC chargers, is a joke.

    IKEA has 4 and at least they aren’t Tesla-specific. But they are BYO cable.

    Peter Campbell Peter Campbell 10:24 am 16 Nov 21

    Peter Cook The AC chargers at the Canberra Centre are all universal, both the two EO branded ones and the two Tesla branded ones. Tesla AC charging outlets can be set internally to be Tesla-only or universal.

    Relatively slow AC charging makes sense at places like shops. They are relatively cheap to install and operate. They charge fast enough to be attractive and give a useful top up but slow enough to encourage shoppers to linger.

    Fast DC chargers cost a lot more to install and operate.

    Peter Cook Peter Cook 10:42 am 16 Nov 21

    Peter Campbell A few DC chargers at shopping centres are warranted. More expensive for shorter trips for EV owners who can’t charge at home. And it’s a more efficient use of limited space than forcing shoppers to linger. If they’re prepared to pay more for a faster charge.

    But there needs to be a LOT more than 4 AC chargers in this day and age. I can’t even remember the last time I saw an available AC stall at CCCP.

    Peter Campbell Peter Campbell 10:52 am 16 Nov 21

    Peter Cook I agree we need fast DC chargers in convenient locations but I also think people should expect to pay a premium for fast DC charging.

    On the other hand, slower AC charging makes sense to be offered as a freebie perk/encouragement at a shop or mall or cafe or whatever.

    Another example for where slower, cheaper, more abundant AC chargers could go is at park-and-ride carparks. There, lots AC would be better than few DC. The cars are likely to be sitting all day and could be slowly soaking up surplus solar production.

    Peter Cook Peter Cook 11:13 am 16 Nov 21

    Peter Campbell The closest free DC charger is in Yass. I don’t believe people are asking for free DC charging in Canberra.

Lesley Malcolm Lesley Malcolm 4:43 pm 14 Nov 21

Like to know what the fee per km will be as government will need to replace the revenue from fuel tax. So far I have heard 2.5 cents per kilometre and no doubt that will increase regularly.

    Peter Campbell Peter Campbell 5:57 pm 14 Nov 21

    Lesley Malcolm The states introducing that tax are not replacing revenue because fuel excise is a federal tax. Instead the states are hoping to gain a growth tax at the expense of the federal govt.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 4:07 pm 14 Nov 21

Adele Craven, the Australia Insititute claims $10.3 billion in subsidies was given to the “fossil fuel industry” this year but exact details of how this was made up are hard to find.

Part of the that amount is claimed to be the diesel fuel rebate which is collected at the retail point of sale and less than half of the total of some $7.8 billion was claimed as tax credits by the “fossil fuel industries”.

It is disingenuous at best and fraudulent at worst to claim this is a “subsidy” because it applies to all industries across the board. That would also include owners of certain vehicles utilised in the construction of part-time renewable electricity generators AKA solar and wind farms.

    JS9 JS9 9:32 am 15 Nov 21

    Yeh real hard to find….type Australia Institute fossil fuel subsidies into google, click on the very first link and you’ll find this there: https://australiainstitute.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/P1021-Fossil-fuel-subsidies-2020-21-Web.pdf

    You must have tried real hard not to find that.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:30 am 15 Nov 21

    I said hard to find, not real hard to find.

    Perhaps you could also supply a link that gives full details of subsidies and the like given to the part-time renewables industry?

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 1:48 pm 15 Nov 21
    Stephen Winter Stephen Winter 9:34 am 15 Nov 21

    Capital Retro, if you don’t know the exact details where did you pluck that figure out?
    And to be saying words like fuel industry and fraudulent in the same sentence without having any solid evidence I hope you’ve got a good lawyer

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:25 am 15 Nov 21

    The inference made is that the “fossil fuel industry” is the only group receiving that tax credit. It isn’t a subsidy.

    Those figures are available but on the AI’s website but the others are not detailed.

    JS9 JS9 1:14 pm 15 Nov 21

    I link to this document – not because of its context or its broader analysis, but because it contains a fairly straightforward definition of ‘consumer subsidies’ (what is being talked about in this case) that can be applied widely (https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/28111/FossilFuel.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y) Page 6

    This is how it is defined in terms of fossil fuel industries in the report:
    “Consumer subsidies typically lower the price of fossil fuels for the private sector, the public sector or households below what they would be if all financial costs and the value
    of energy commodities were reflected in the price. “

    Replace “fossil fuels” with ‘a good or service’, and replace ‘energy commodities’ with something like ‘production inputs’ and you get:

    “Consumer subsidies typically lower the price of a good or service for the private sector, the public sector or households below what they would be if all financial costs and the value of production inputs were reflected in the price. “

    I think in broad terms most would agree that’s a pretty reasonable definition of consumer subsidies (noting the broader question of negative externalities – but lets not go there for now). I think it is hard to sustain an argument the fuel tax rebate is not a form of implicit subsidy ( – because it does lower the cost of the good/service to the users who can receive it .(i.e. businesses) vs those who can’t (Private users)

    The inference suggested is just white noise. A subsidy does not need to be industry specific to be a subsidy – indeed subsidies can be economy wide, or apply to a large range of industries. Doesn’t change the implicit basis of what is or isn’t a subsidy.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:18 pm 15 Nov 21

    Thanks (sincerely) for that JS9. Your “white noise” analogy is perfect.

    It has become fashionable also for the opponents of the fossil fuel industries to assign actual dollar values to carbon footprints they perceive are created by the industries referred to and call them subsidies too.

    That is drawing a very long bow.

    JS9 JS9 10:57 am 16 Nov 21

    “It has become fashionable also for the opponents of the fossil fuel industries to assign actual dollar values to carbon footprints they perceive are created by the industries referred to and call them subsidies too.”

    Which is exactly what isn’t happening in the case of that fuel tax credit. All it needs is recognition that it is a subsidy for other sectors too, as you suggest – but that still doesn’t mean it isn’t a subsidy for the fossil fuel industry.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 1:50 pm 15 Nov 21

    I like your sense of humour, “a good lawyer”, ha ha.

David Ball David Ball 3:55 pm 14 Nov 21

In the end, Australia will be forced to adopt EVs en masse because all international car makers will eventually make the switch. Fuel may then become largely a capital cost (solar + home battery) rather than a recurring cost, in order to avoid high power prices at peak EV charging times.

    Peter Campbell Peter Campbell 5:56 pm 14 Nov 21

    David Ball Fast DC EV charging is something to pay a premium for on a long trip out of town but local driving can be a discretionary load because most electric cars have more than enough range for local driving these days. I have my car set to pause its trickle charging from an ordinary power point during the evening peak when it would cost me more.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 3:38 pm 14 Nov 21
A Nonny Mouse A Nonny Mouse 2:15 pm 14 Nov 21

Hmm. Why was the author worried with 180km of range remaining and only local driving to do? Why not use the DC fast charger on London Circuit, instead? It charges faster than the ones in the Canberra Centre.
Did nobody show him Plugshare.com, which would have shown all the local chargers? Did he not do his research?
There is no Tesla ‘Supercharger’ in the Canberra Centre. ‘Supercharger’ is Tesla’s term for their fast DC charger, currently limited to Teslas. The Canberra Centre has two Tesla ‘destination chargers’, their term for a slower AC charging outlet. Tesla ‘destination chargers’ often work with non-Teslas (depends on an internal setting) and these particular ones do work with non-Teslas and should have worked with the Porsche. They are sometimes just a bit slow to get started on a non-Tesla.
Why do journos write articles about the problems they encountered when trying something new without having done even the most basic research first? I’d be embarrassed!
In contrast, I had no difficulties doing trips in my electric car to Bermagui last week and to Orange this week. Charging was straightforward and uneventful. When one charger I hoped to use was occupied, I used a different one that I already knew about.

Mardi Jane Mardi Jane 1:51 pm 14 Nov 21

Mark interesting read!

    Mark McEwen Mark McEwen 2:41 pm 14 Nov 21

    Mardi, infrastructure is still underdeveloped, however the key investment will be your home solar and charging point. And seeing I’m working part time from home, most of those issues are removed 🤞

    Mardi Jane Mardi Jane 2:42 pm 14 Nov 21

    Mark yes the infrastructure is lagging … have you decided on a colour yet?

    Mark McEwen Mark McEwen 3:58 pm 14 Nov 21

    Mardi, depends on the car.. choices are:

    1. Tesla S

    2. Mercedes EQE

    Peter Campbell Peter Campbell 5:52 pm 14 Nov 21

    Mark McEwen For most people, most of the time, if they have an ordinary power point they can use where they park, they have all the infrastructure they need for local driving. I have been driving electric since 2009 and generally just use an ordinary power point in my carport.

    I use public fast DC charging occasionally but only for some longer trips out of town. Even for out of town trips, I often have enough range to be able to just trickle charge at the destination.

    Mark McEwen Mark McEwen 6:00 pm 14 Nov 21

    Peter, that wasn’t thinking, thanks for confirming 🙂 I’m excited to get one 😛

Oiledpengu Oiledpengu 1:27 pm 14 Nov 21

Hardly a whinge when it’s a fact

    Bike Baron Bike Baron 1:25 pm 15 Nov 21

    It’s like me whinging that KFC doesn’t sell Coke. That too is a fact, but it’s a fairly pointless one.

    The issue with this story is the writer was evidently unprepared and ignorant of EV ownership. There are many other chargers he could have used. The drama of him missing his appointment while he tried charging the Porsche at a Tesla destination charger is user error.

Albert Warragul Albert Warragul 12:34 pm 14 Nov 21

We have one charging station in our town at a motel .When its used it drops the power supply out to half the cbd .

    Peter Campbell Peter Campbell 5:20 pm 14 Nov 21

    What? Nobody has a power point within reach of an extension cord to where they park? I have been charging various electric cars at home since 2009. Generally trickle charging from an ordinary power point is enough.

    Peter Campbell Peter Campbell 5:30 pm 14 Nov 21

    Albert Warragul PS. I don't believe an ordinary motel-style AC charger would 'drop the power supply to half the cbd'.

    Albert Warragul Albert Warragul 5:31 pm 14 Nov 21

    Peter Campbell i dont care what you believe ,Im telling you it happens .

    Peter Campbell Peter Campbell 5:34 pm 14 Nov 21

    Albert Warragul If if happens, it is not because it is an EV charger. A 'charger' at a motel is little more than a relay to connect the AC to the car. The car is no more load than a couple of guests turning their room heaters on.

    Albert Warragul Albert Warragul 5:36 pm 14 Nov 21

    Peter Campbell its not charged from a power point ,it like a bowser in the parking area .Its now locked to prevent power outages .If you turn up here with an electric car tough luck no charging points available .

    Peter Campbell Peter Campbell 11:10 pm 14 Nov 21

    Albert Warragul OK. Something of similar size to a petrol bowser rather than a small wall box sounds like a DC charger, 50kW or more. That is not what a shop or motel would normally install. A motel 'charger' is typically a glorified AC outlet that might be 7-11kW at most. DC chargers are 10s of 1000s of dollars to install. If that is overloading a substation somewhere, then somebody seriously messed up their load calculations, permissions etc.

Ryan Winn Ryan Winn 12:17 pm 14 Nov 21

What an unfair range issue whinge. You borrowed an EV car for a weekend that had around 400km range - do you stress this much about not having a jerry can of petrol at home? Surprised you even needed to charge it, even with knowing you had a home charging issue. Anyone buying an EV would consider this when buying and getting a sparky to sort the situation first, even in an apartment and given range charging at the shopping centre is generally a moot point in Canberra.

Chris Galvin Chris Galvin 11:59 am 14 Nov 21

Some people are just disorganised. Always have been always will be.

Greg Stix Greg Stix 10:45 am 14 Nov 21

Maybe waiting hours to charge it when travelling distances is the reason u can scrap this technology Or maybe disposing of the batteries when there done is another. Either way it’s a no from me

    Chris Galvin Chris Galvin 12:00 pm 14 Nov 21

    Greg Stix you'll be walking then.

    Adele Craven Adele Craven 3:20 pm 14 Nov 21

    Greg Stix Experience shows that most times on a longer trip that car is ready before we are. Taking breaks more frequently and for longer actually improves the trip itself and energy levels on arrival.

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