Aussie rEVolution

The yearly road trip is a big part of many Aussie families. EVs will change how we travel but what is holding us back?

The Christmas holidays are starting to fade into distant memory as 2013 gets into full swing. We are fortunate enough in Australia to experience Sun, Surf and Sand over the Christmas period. Having the combined Christmas & summer holiday period means that many people travel away from home on road trips around Australia to visit family, friends or just lay on the beach and soak up the sun.

Fast forward 20 years with the introduction of Electric Vehicles and the image of the thousands of people driving to their holiday destinations will take a dramatic change. As the ranges of Electric Vehicles increase, people will be able to move toward having EVs as their primary mode of transport. This in turn will most likely mean that the only car in a household will be an Electric Vehicle. Part of our way of life is to enjoy the outdoors and travel away from the city areas to enjoy the country. This mentality will most certainly remain however how we do this will change.

This will inevitably put a demand to have charge facilities at key points along the major connecting roads to be able to support this movement. Car manufacturers regularly use the marketing line of Melbourne to Sydney on one tank of fuel. While EVs are a little way off to be able to reach the 900km journey on one charge, having one or two stops on the way is quite possible with the current technology such as the Tesla Motors Model S with 85kWh batteries. With having DC fast chargers strategically placed like ABB’s Terra Charging points at key locations on the highway, drivers will be able to pull in to a service station and by the time they finish their lunch, they will be able to continue on their journey. ABB already has teamed up with BP overseas to install fast chargers in the Netherlands as a Nationwide trial.

The convenience of your car being charged as you eat will certainly drive the business case to have charge stations tied together with Service Stations that contain some form of restaurant or café. Plenty of these already exist on major highways so implementation of this infrastructure should be relatively easy.

Now the big question is when and how? It’s the classic what came first – the chicken or the egg question? Investment in Infrastructure is slow due to not many EVs being in Australia while the car manufacturers are not selling that many EVs without better infrastructure. The only thing holding back EV road trips is the availability of fast charging. So… What are we waiting for?

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About the author

Peter Rawdanowicz

Starting in 2012, I have joined the team at ABB as a Project Manager in the Drives Division here in Melbourne, Australia. In my previous job, I was a Senior Project Engineer for the Chassis Electronics Systems at General Motors (GM) Holden. One of the most ground breaking projects that I worked on was the Holden Volt (also known as the Chevrolet Volt or Opel Ampera) localisation for the local market where I took on a lead role in preparing this vehicle for sale launch here in Australia. As a result, I have intimate knowledge on electric vehicles, the infrastructure required for them and the issues that they face for society to accept them in our day to day lives. This passion for electric vehicles has drawn me to follow the ABB E-mobility portfolio of products and how ABB is focussing on our core business goals of lowering our environmental impact.
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