Enthusiasm for electric highway to South West charges up

ELECTRIC vehicle owners may soon be able to drive between Perth and Augusta, if a concept being spearheaded by the WA branch of Australian Electric Vehicle Association to place charging stations in regional towns goes ahead.

There are currently a handful of charging stations in Perth where owners of electric vehicles can charge up, but venturing further south causes “range anxiety” as most vehicles available on the domestic market have a range of around 160 kilometres.

WA AEVA chairman Chris Jones said the concept of an electric vehicle highway is not new, having been rolled out with success in Europe and the US in recent years, though not in Australia.

Mr Jones said by placing as few as four charging stations in regional towns the entire South West could become a proving ground for electric vehicle highways across the country.

“We would like to arrange it so an AC slow charge facility, which gives full charge in around six hours, could be paired with DC fast chargers at each location,” Mr Jones said.

A DC fast charger can charge a 50 kilowatt electric vehicle battery to 90 per cent capacity in around 30 minutes, and costs around $40,000 each to install.

Fremantle City Council is behind the charge for the electric vehicle highway, and sustainability officer Melanie Bainbridge said the time needed to charge a car can be capitalised on by eco-tourism.

“Making these stations available in each town would create an eco-corridor while supporting the tourism of these towns,” she said.

“The concept is also about promoting the ‘get there safely not quickly’ mentality.”

Shire sustainability planning officer Jared Drummond said although the AEVA has expressed interest in including the Augusta Margaret River region in the plan, nothing had been confirmed or finalised.

“An invitation has been extended to officers to participate in upcoming workshops on the matter [and] the group is also requesting information around the availability of suitable sites and access to a power connection,” Mr Drummond said.

The new owner of a plot of land on the corner of Boodjidup Road and Bussell Highway recently earmarked as a potential site for a new service station declined to comment about the possibility of placing an electric vehicle charging station at the site.

Mr Jones said the AEVA plans to complete a feasibility study on the project in the coming months, and hopes to begin installing charging stations in the South West by the end of the year. 

Seeing a car charging up could become a more common site in the South West, if ideas for placing a charging station in each town go ahead.

Seeing a car charging up could become a more common site in the South West, if ideas for placing a charging station in each town go ahead.