Aussie EV drivers found a new source of frustration last summer when queues for EV charging stations hit headlines across the country.1
Some drivers reported waiting up to 90 minutes to charge their electric vehicle, adding a sour note to many summer road trips.1
So, what about summer 2023-24? With record numbers of electric cars on our roads,2 will Australia’s fledgling EV charging network stand up to demand these holidays?
According to the Electric Vehicle Council (EVC), Australian EV drivers have access to around 5,000 public EV chargers,3 and the network continues to expand.2
As of June 2023, 967 of these were high-power fast or ultra-fast chargers2 offering 25-350kW DC fast-charging capability, with some vehicles being able to be fully charged in 10-15 minutes.4 The EVC say this represents a 57 per cent increase in high-power charging locations compared to the same time last year.2
Australia’s EV charging station network
Under the National Electric Vehicle Strategy, the federal government has committed to installing a ‘backbone’ of fast-charging infrastructure located on major highways across the country at an average interval of 150km.
Currently, public charging in Australia is operated by a number of companies, including dedicated providers such as ChargeFox5 and Evie6, and fuel retailers Ampol7 and BP.8
So what does all of this mean for your summer road trip? Here are some steps you might want to take to minimise time spent at the charging station this summer.
Research EV charging stations and routes
Free apps such as PlugShare allow drivers to check the available EV chargers along your planned route, including chargers from multiple providers.9 PlugShare also allows you to leave and read reviews which can be helpful as other drivers share intel on the surrounding amenities, such as wi-fi availability.9
CarsGuide also recommends A Better Routeplanner (ABRP), a navigation app which, like PlugShare, is brand agnostic and able to calculate when, where and for how long you’ll need to charge up your EV on your journey.9
The major EV charging station providers also have their own apps, and it’s possible to use Google Maps10 or Apple Maps11 to find charging locations on your route.
Charging speed matters
Faster chargers can reduce your charging time during stops, making your trip more efficient. But if you’re planning a longer stop anyway, you might want to consider choosing AC (Level 1 or Level 2) over DC (Level 3).4 The price per kilowatt is often lower and there may be more chargers to choose from.
Avoid charging your EV at peak times
Many third-party apps such as Evie6 will display busy times for their public chargers, allowing drivers to try to plan their journey around them.
Global EV specialists Chargemap advise trying to charge in the early morning or late evening to avoid peak charging times.12 “These are the ideal time slots to enjoy a bit of calm and cooler summer temperatures,” they said. “In fact, your charging time is optimised if you charge your EV outside the hottest moments of the day.”
With the appropriate plans and technology in place, here’s hoping Aussie EV drivers have a better time of it this summer. Even the best-laid plans can go awry though, which is why Youi offers roadside assistance as standard with its Comprehensive car insurance policies, including for EVs.13
1 Source: The Guardian – Summer holidays see people queuing to charge electric cars for first time in Australia, 2023
2 Source: Electric Vehicle Council – State of Electric Vehicles, 2023
3 Source: Electric Vehicle Council – Australia set to pass 100k EV milestone, but more speed required to reach 1m on time, 2023
4 Source: NSW Government – Charging an electric vehicle
5 Source: Chargefox – Drivers
6 Source: Evie – Find a charger
7 Source: Ampol – Electric Vehicles
8 Source: BP Australia – Recharge and go
9 Source: CarsGuide – EV charging apps: The top 5 electric car apps for owners, 2023
10 Source: Drive – Google Maps adds electric vehicle fast-charger search support, 2023
11 Source: PC Mag – Real-Time Routing: How to Find an EV Charging Station With Apple Maps, 2023
12 Source: Chargemap – How to avoid queues at charging stations this summer, 2023
13 Youi Roadside Assist included with Comprehensive cover only. Exclusions, limits and additional fees may apply. Cover not available within first 24 hours of taking out, or upgrading to, Comprehensive cover. See the T&Cs and PDS for full details