The times they are a changing… 46



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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.

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.

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? 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. it is not only availability of power, these cars would be out of reach for many consumers. There are many of us who don’t have the money to invest, even though I think they are a good idea..provided fossil fuels are not used for the electricity

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  2. Absolutely not, you can thank our Power companies for that because our electricity bills are out of control, could you imagine how much worse they would be if we all had to run our cars on it.

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  3. The only real way electric cars will be of benefit is when all the electricity used to charge them is from renewable energy. It is pretty pointless otherwise as the generation of the electricity will in itself have been polluting.

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    • Totally agree with that Barbara – unless we start using wind power or solar energy to produce our electricity there is no difference, so why bother going to the huge expense of purchasing an electric car

    • Electric cars keep the pollution out of town. Generating electricity in big generators is more efficient than running many petrol engines, but distribution of electricity is inefficient. Solar and wind generation will come no matter how negative Government is. The future for electric town cars is good.

  4. I believe Queensland also is working on this. Solar powered outlets would be cheaper as well, sustainable energy. But while coal industry is donating millions to the government you won’t see this for a while.

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  5. Not yet, on account of the cost of purchase and limited range. Whilst most of my tripos are way less than 150km at a time, I want the ability to undertake a journey of that duration or longer, should the need arise.

  6. To answer the question asked – Western Australia is in the forefront of providing the necessary power outlets for these cars to leave the confines of Perth and travel to the southwest. I also agree the cost of these vehicles will continue to limit their availability to most people and the power needs to be from non polluting sources to enable these vehicles to have a positive impact on pollution.

  7. Sorry but in isolated rural areas, electric won’t cut it, range is the issue. At the moment Hybrid seem the way to go until the range issue is fixed.

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    • mike here-but the Chevrolet Volt is reported as having a 6 L/100 km range which is one litre more than my Subaru on long hauls.

    • Yeah. But to our nearest small city is 75km, that’s 150+km round trip, to our nearest city with specialists for wife medical problems 200km, round trip 400km+, to Melbourne for specialist treatment 365km, 730+ round trip, so at the moment petrol or hybrid is the most logical for us. Before anyone says it, we have NO public transport except a bus that runs once a day to Bendigo (200km) 6 days a week.

  8. Great the rest of Australia has found us don’t know how l feel about electric cars, l will wait and see how they pan out first

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