More roadhouses needed for outback EV push

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WA would need double the number of roadhouses north of Perth to support an effective charging station network if electric vehicles are ever to take off in the outback.

The Senate inquiry into electric vehicles released this week called for a national strategy to boost Australia’s lacklustre uptake of the technology, but failed to make any concrete targets.

A submission from Fast Cities Australia estimated ultra-fast chargers would have to be installed every 150 kilometres at a cost of least $100 million to stamp out range anxiety in drivers.

At that distance, five new roadhouses would have to be built between Geraldton and Broome to accommodate extra charging stations. A further five would need to be built between Perth and Port Hedland.

Green dots indicate new roadhouses which would need to be built to bridge gaps of 200km or more on the North West Coastal Highway.
Camera IconGreen dots indicate new roadhouses which would need to be built to bridge gaps of 200km or more on the North West Coastal Highway. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr

Electric Vehicle Council chief executive Behyad Jafari said with government support this was not an insurmountable challenge.

“Much like a lot of services... there are some areas which are sparsely populated and there is not a commercial return to be made, so the government steps in,” he said.

“At the moment EV has a cost premium because it is a new technology, but that premium is going away as production scales up.

“By the mid-2020s it won’t need government support, so we want to make sure in the next few years we have people building charging infrastructure right around the country in preparation.”

Mr Jafari said government had been all talk, no action in supporting electric vehicle uptake to date.

The inquiry found purchase price, range anxiety and sparse recharging facilities were chief concerns among buyers preventing the uptake of EVs in Australia.

Report chairman Tim Storer said the recommendations should have gone further after the committee rejected his calls for tax exemptions, mandated EV targets and government support for charging infrastructure roll out.

“My package is responsible, evidence based policy making with clear benefits for the motorist, community health, the environment, the economy and the budget,” he said.

“Even though we are now in the shadow of an election, the major parties decided not to put their money where their mouths are with regard to specific measures to accelerate uptake.”

Most of the 17 recommendations revolved around considering introduction of targets, working with other stakeholders, and creating roadmaps, taskforces and plans.

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