An EV charging station.
Thousands of EV owners are expected to head off on Christmas road trips in the regions this year. Image by Jason O'BRIEN/AAP PHOTOS
  • transport

EV exodus: thousands of owners to hit the road for Xmas


December 23, 2023

Australia’s regional areas are expected to see “more electric vehicles than they’ve ever seen before” in the coming weeks as 90,000 new electric car drivers embark on summer road trips for the first time.

But experts warn the trend has the potential to challenge the nation’s growing charging network and create queues over Christmas and the New Year if new drivers do not plan ahead or change their typical charging behaviour.

The warnings come after Australians saw high demand at popular vehicle chargers during the end-of-year holiday season in 2022, with Evie Networks registering a 40 per cent jump in demand.

Electric Vehicle Council energy and infrastructure head Ross De Rango said the huge growth in EV sales this year would see thousands more electric vehicles in all parts of Australia these holidays.

“Some of our regional roads are going to see more EVs than they’ve ever seen before and many of those EVs will belong to new EV drivers who aren’t necessarily experienced at using public charging equipment,” he said.

A car being charged.
 Some new EV drivers might lack experience in using public charging equipment, creating delays. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS 

While fast chargers were now available in almost 800 locations, Mr De Rango said, electric vehicle drivers should take steps to avoid adding unnecessary demand to the network and avoid queues by planning ahead.

“Leave home for your holiday with a full charge, if you can, because it’s cheaper and easier to charge your car at home for most EV owners,” he said.

“We’d also encourage people to ask their accommodation provider if they have facilities for charging an electric car, even if it’s just a 10-amp power point.”

Mr De Rango said EV drivers could offer to pay “a little more to cover the cost of electricity” at a holiday home, from $5 to $10 per night for short stays.

Polestar Australia communications head Laurissa Mirabelli said EV drivers could also reduce time spent at public chargers by recharging most, but not all, of their car batteries.

“Try to avoid charging past 80 per cent as the charging speed will slow significantly, impacting other drivers,” she said.

A progess screen on an EV charging station.
 It might be best not to charge your EV battery all the way to 100 per cent, experts say. Image by Jason O’BRIEN/AAP PHOTOS 

“The aim of the game is to try and keep everyone moving as efficiently as possible.”

Drivers could also check popular travel times on Google to avoid busy periods and use PlugShare to check the status of public chargers around Australia.

MG Australia communications manager David Giametta also recommends the A Better Routeplanner app to plot pitstops and estimate charging times – a calculation that could otherwise be overlooked.

“It’s important to know what type of charger you’re using and how long it will take to charge,” he said.

“Wall chargers typically found at shopping centres, motels or uni car parks are usually AC and will deliver around 40-100km of charge per hour, and DC fast chargers will deliver around 70km range for every 10 minutes of charge time.”

Mr De Rango said experienced EV drivers should also take the initiative to help newcomers with the technology for everyone’s benefit.

“Be kind,” he said.

“This summer there will probably be queues for EV charging in some places at some times and many new EV drivers learning the ropes.”