The times they are a changing...

How’s this for a sign of the times? Western Australia has now installed the nation’s first electric-car highway, a 310-kilometre stretch of road that connects Perth and the beachside tourist town of Augusta.

Electric vehicle owners can travel safe in the knowledge they won’t run out of juice thanks to a network of charging stations dotted along the route that will recharge their cars in a matter of minutes – for free.

This is the country’s first extended road route for electric vehicles (EVs) and it is surely the first of many.

The ABC reports that most electric car owners plug their cars into a socket at home, which can take anywhere from three to eight hours to fully charge. Once charged, the vehicle will only travel as far as the size of the battery allows, which is about 150 kilometres for most common models.

This means electric cars are great for running errands but not good for longer trips.

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But now Perth day-trippers can enjoy a holiday with their electric car, with the option to stop at one of 12 public charging stations, which take around 30 minutes to fully charge a vehicle. The service is free for now, but will cost $3 to $5 after the trial period.

There are fewer than 150 EV owners in Western Australia but it was hoped access to the chargers would encourage more people to buy the cars, which start at $39,000.

Dr Chris Jones from the Australian Electric Vehicle Association said there is a reason there are so few electric car owners in Australia.

“We do have longer distances than most to travel and so the limited range of the current fleet of EVs plays a part in that,” he told the ABC. “We also don’t have any government incentives whatsoever whereas most other nations have got something.”

The start-up costs are on the more expensive side, but the cost of running an EV is just a fraction of fuel-powered cars.

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Dr Jones said it was just a matter of time before similar charging stations were built across the country.

“All it took was a bit of motivation; it’s an elegantly simple system. All of the infrastructure to deliver the energy is already there, it’s just a case of putting the right charger there,” he said.

Would you consider buying an electric vehicle if there were more services like this available?