AUSTRALIA will have its first nationwide ultra-fast electric vehicle (EV) charging network by the end of 2019, with 21 rapid charging sites, funded by government grants and the private sector, to be built on major freeways connecting Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane.
The Chargefox network was co-founded by EV infrastructure supplier and installer Jet Charge and entrepreneur Marty Andrews, and has secured investment from the Australian Motoring Clubs (consisting of NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RAC, RAA and RACT), and Wilson Transformer Company, Australia’s largest distribution transformer manufacturer.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) – a federal government initiative – has invested $6 million into Chargefox, while the Victorian state government has also announced a $1m grant. Total investment for the project stands at $15 million.
Chargefox will be chaired by investor and carsales.com.au founder Greg Roebuck, while the Australian Motoring Clubs, through its Australian Mobility Clubs arm, will be the largest shareholder.
Each of the 21 fast-charging sites will feature a minimum of two charging stations that are capable of delivering 350kW of power, joining the US and Europe as the only jurisdictions with 350kW charging networks. There are also plans to integrate sites into Western Australia.
The 350kW charging stations means that EVs can charge to about 80 per cent capacity in 15 minutes, delivering up to 400km of driving range, depending on the model, in that time. The new charging stations will also be the fastest of any charger currently available in Australia.
Two different charging plugs capable of standard AC or rapid DC charging will be available at the stations, and Chargefox says Tesla models can also be charged at the stations.
The stations will be powered by solar power and battery storage, a world first for charging stations.
Given the Victorian government’s investment, the first two sites will be built in Euroa in central Victoria, and Barnawartha North, near Wodonga on the New South Wales border.
The two sites on the Hume Highway will aid pure-EV travel between Melbourne and Sydney, and according to the state government will provide a boon for economies and tourism in regional Victoria.
Euroa will feature four charging stations with 150kW of solar power and 450kWh of station storage, while Barnawartha North will have landscaping, picnic facilities, four charging stations and 200kW of ground mount solar.
The charging sites will be no more than 200km apart, will be completely open to the public and will be accessible through a connected smartphone app.
The Victorian Labor government has legislated a goal of net zero emissions by 2050 and says the charging network is an important step on the road to its goal.
Chargefox CEO Marty Andrews said that the integration of its charging network will help fast-track the adoption of EVs in Australia.
“Chargefox is committed to sustainable mobility,” he said. “Our network of ultra-rapid charging stations will play a significant part in improving the infrastructure of this country and remove one of the major barriers that limits the adoption of EVs.
“The charging stations will enable all modern EV drivers to confidently drive between Australia’s major cities.”
The Electric Vehicle Council of Australia (EVC) welcomed the announcement, and called on the federal government to set a national target for EV adoption, while coordinating policies and regulations to aid the move from internal-combustion vehicles to EVs.
“What Australia’s been missing is decisive leadership from the national government that demonstrates Australia’s readiness and support of e-mobility to the world,” said EV Council CEO Behyad Jafari.
“When it comes to an EV industry, we’re global leaders. Unfortunately, when it comes to national policy, we remain global laggards.
“The good news is that, should the government come to the table, there is a burgeoning and invigorated industry potential for them to tap into.”
According to a PwC report commissioned by EV Council, research found that meeting the target of 50 per cent EV new car sales by 2030 would result in a real GDP increase of almost $3 billion, while net employment would increase by 13,400 jobs by replacing imported oil with electricity.
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