The announcement this week that an Australian company , ChargePoint Pty Ltd, had signed a deal with Coulomb Technologies, the leading providers of charging points for electric vehicles in the United States, is certainly great news and a sure sign that we’re going to see a lot of interest in electric vehicles in Australia.
But will that interest actually translate into enough individuals and businesses reaching for their wallets to make the sale of electric vehicles in Australia a viable option for car makers … at least in the short-term?
While most of us travel less than 160km a day in our vehicles … a distance that’s right at the limits of battery capacity at the moment* … we all like the idea of being able to jump in our cars on the weekends and head out into the country. When we do travel we want to travel a whole lot further than just 80km before we have to turn around to head home and we don’t want to have to keep our fingers crossed that we really are going to make it home.
For example a trip from Ultimo to the Hunter Valley in NSW is totally out of reach for an electric vehicle with a range of 160km if there are no charging points along the way.
And that’s the problem that people who might buy electric cars are going to be thinking about. Do I really want to be limited to such short distances and if I want to go further out of the city will there be somewhere that I can get a recharge?
BMW is already seeing a trend among their Mini E testers towards what is known as ‘range anxiety’ … can I really go as far as I want to go or am I going to end up bringing the car home on the back of a truck?
Here in Australia, with the vast distances that we all want to travel ‘some day’, range anxiety is going to be a real problem that the makers of electric cars are going to encounter. But what can they do about it? Will car makers want to get involved in paying for the installation of charge points is more ‘remote’ areas and if they don’t who will?
No one is going to be interested in installing charging points where there are no electric vehicles and there won’t be any electric vehicles heading out to rural areas if there are no charging points.
So will we see a quick take-up of electric vehicle technology in Australia? I don’t think so.
*Yes Tesla can go further on the batteries they use and some people can get a lot more than 160km out a single charge but the maximum distance that most manufacturers promise is right on the 160km or 100 mile mark.