Interest in electric cars (EVs) is accelerating rapidly. In Australia alone, the sale of EVs was 86% higher in 2022 compared to 2021,1 and more electric cars were sold in the six months from January to June 2023 than in all of 2022.2 To keep pace, there has been a focus on the rollout of new infrastructure, such as public EV charging stations,1 identified as one of the priorities of Australia’s first National Electric Vehicle Strategy.
“The vast majority of [EV] owners charge their vehicles at home,” says Rob Asselman, Chargefox Head of Marketing. “There’s a huge convenience factor in being able to come home and plug your car in.”
But if you’re travelling, or if you live somewhere that lacks facilities to charge at home – such as an apartment building – you might find yourself needing to rely on the public charging network.
Thankfully, this network is growing. Below, we’ve put together some tips and tools that could help answer your questions about electric car ownership – including how much it might cost to use EV charging stations, how to find them, and what insurance options there are for electric vehicles.
How many EV charging stations are there in Australia?
“People who don’t drive EVs ask where all the chargers are,” says Asselman. “They’re accustomed to the petrol station experience where they take up a lot of space and have big signs. EV charging stations tend to be no bigger than two bar fridges stacked on top of each other.
“New chargers are being added more and more rapidly as the EV adoption rate increases more rapidly.”
In December 2022, there were more than 4,900 public chargers at over 2,390 sites across Australia.1 But with governments’ commitment to invest in public charging infrastructure, this number is set to increase – for example, the Western Australian Government’s $22.9-million investment to install almost 100 new EV charging stations in 49 locations.1
What is the charging speed of an electric car?
The time it takes to charge an electric car depends on a range of factors, including the charging station’s power output, the vehicle’s charging capacity, the size of the battery and the current charge level.3 The New South Wales Government has approximate charging times for a range of electric car types available on their website (assuming use of a 7.4kW charger).4
EV chargers generally fall into three categories, based on how much power they deliver to the car:5
- Level 1 (alternating current) EV chargers have a slow charging speed, roughly equivalent to plugging into a regular power point at home or work. Charging is usually performed overnight or for a few hours during the day to recharge the vehicle by 100 to 200km.
- Level 2 (alternating current) refers to a dedicated EV charger with its own plug or socket. These chargers are much faster than level 1, and typically add 30 to 130km of range per hour depending on the car’s configuration.
- Level 3 (direct current) is the fastest charging option, typically adding 150 to 300km of range per hour – with some vehicles able to be fully charged in 10 to 15 minutes.5
Generally, the EV chargers found in domestic settings, or at shopping centres, are slower (two to 16 hours charging time) than those found along urban roads (30 minutes to two hours). Meanwhile, the fastest EV charging stations are typically those found along highways, motorways and key routes (10 to 60 minutes).5
Do EV charging stations cost money?
While you may be able to find some public EV charging stations that are free to use, there are others you’ll need to pay for. Even so, electric cars are significantly cheaper to run than their petrol and diesel counterparts, with fuel savings of up to 70%.6
“EV charging stations can be free,” says Asselman. “A local shopping centre may have chargers installed to generate traffic and increase the time people spend there. They know you’ll be there for 10 to 30 minutes and you’re likely to spend money during that time, so the chargers are often free.”
Other EV charging stations, such as the DC fast-charging stations found along major highways, tend to charge a fee, usually priced per kilowatt-hour (kWh).7 Prices can vary from station to station, but according to the NSW Government, the cost of public fast charging is typically between $0.40 and $0.80 per kWh.8
How can I find EV charging stations?
Finding EV charging stations is easy once you know how. There are a number of apps out there that allow you to search for nearby charging stations, and to plot your trip. Some of these can also provide information such as the type and speed of charger, the plug types and current availability, as well as the ability to monitor your charge while your car is plugged in.
Below is a list of resources that will hopefully make finding an EV charging station easier.
The free PlugShare app allows users to find EV charging stations, leave reviews and connect with other electric car owners. There’s even a community of drivers that list their personal home charging stations for public use, along with their availability, on the app.9
Chargefox represents the largest non-Tesla exclusive network of EV charging stations in Australia, with more than 900 chargers across the country as of December 2022.10 The Chargefox app allows you to find EV charger locations relative to where you are, along with details such as maximum charging capability, plug types and charger availability.11 You can even use the app to remotely stop charging when you’re done.
Evie’s network of fast and ultra-fast charging stations can be found in more than 150 locations across Australia.12 The Evie Charging App allows you to locate their EV chargers, activate charging sessions and see real-time charging progress, and pay via the app. It also allows you to view your complete charging history.13
Tesla operates a network of more than 60 EV superchargers in Australia, some of which are now available to non-Tesla owners as part of a trial in NSW.14 However, you’re likely to pay for the convenience of access, with non-Tesla owners typically charged more to use the existing V2 and V3 superchargers.14 The Tesla website has a map of where their superchargers can be found in Australia.15
Fuel retailers such as BP and Ampol are starting to hop on the charging bandwagon. Ampol’s EV charging network – called AmpCharge – is currently spread across a number of their Ampol Foodary locations, a list of which is available on the AmpCharge website.16 Meanwhile, BP has launched its bp pulse network of rapid DC chargers across Australia, with a bp pulse app that can help you find them.17
JOLT is working with local councils to build a network of free EV charging stations in urban city centres.18 The JOLT Electric Vehicle Charging app allows you to find and navigate to an EV charger, get updates about charger availability, monitor your charging status and even save favourite charging locations.19
While the switch to electric car ownership might seem like a big decision, initiatives such as the National Electric Vehicle Strategy are working to make the jump more accessible. If you’re contemplating an EV for your next car, consider taking a look at our make and model pages for an indication of how much it might cost you to insure with Youi.
Article by guest writer Annette Sampson
1 Source: Australian Government – National Electric Vehicle Strategy, 2023
2 Source: Electric Vehicle Council – State of Electric Vehicles, 2023
3 Source: EV Connect – How Long Does It Take To Charge an Electric Car?
4 Source: NSW Government – Range and charging
5 Source: NSW Government – Charging an electric vehicle
6 Source: NSW Government – Why buy an electric vehicle?
7 Source: Drive – Public electric car charging in Australia
8 Source: NSW Government – Electric vehicle fast charging stations
9 Source: PlugShare – PlugShare App
10 Source: Drive – Australia’s major electric-car charging companies listed, 2022
11 Source: Chargefox – How to charge
12 Source: Evie – Powering the future of clean electric travel in Australia
13 Source: Evie – Download the Evie Charging App
14 Source: WhichCar? – Tesla significantly expands Superchargers to all EVs in Australia, but…, 2023
15 Source: Tesla – Supercharger
16 Source: Ampol AmpCharge – Charging on the road
17 Source: BP – Recharge and go with bp pulse
18 Source: JOLT – About Us
19 Source: App Store – JOLT Electric Vehicle Charging