Victorian govt drops $1 million on regional EV chargers

Andrews Labor Government confirms small but significant investment in regional EV charging to boost interstate driving potential.

The Victorian Labor Government revealed today it will partly fund the installation of two “ultra-rapid” electric vehicle charging stations at two regional locations: Euroa and Barnawartha North, near Wodonga.

A $1 million grant was announced by Energy Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, with the amount to be matched by Chargefox, the company that will install and administer the charging stations.

The first site is expected to be operational by the end of October, the second by year’s end, and Victoria’s Labor Government claims the position of the two stations will improve interstate journeys – “providing a boon for local economies, and boosting tourism in regional Victoria”. Indeed, Tesla maintains a Supercharger station at Euroa West.

The new stations will be some of the most powerful in the world, capable of charging at up to 350kW. Chargefox says that, depending on the vehicle, drivers could potentially add more than 400 kilometres of electric driving range in 15 minutes.

That sort of power gives the network some amount of future-proofing, with most current and upcoming top-line EVs only able to accept charging rates of between 100 and 150kW. The upcoming Audi e-tron Quattro is currently the only model able to charge at 150kW, and Audi says a 150kW DC fast-charge station would give the electric SUV’s 95kWh battery pack around 80 per cent of full charge in “less than half an hour”.

Chargefox, which counts Victoria-based EV charging supplier and installation company Jet Charge among its founding shareholders, maintains a public charging network built on its own software. That same network will host the two new regional sites.

ChargeFox says it has processed over 9000 charging sessions on more than 330 plugs around Australia and New Zealand, delivering over 60MWh of electricity – enough to power “the average household for a decade”.

For now, the number of high-power charging stations in Victoria remains dismal. EV charging map website PlugShare, with Tesla’s Superchargers removed (given only Tesla vehicles can be charged at those stations), shows just three locations defined as high-powered chargers. Only one of those offers a 50kW rate, with the other two limited to 25kW.

Across the wider nation, the number of public DC fast-charging points in Australia is likewise fairly small, although some organisations – such as the NRMA and the recently funded Fast Cities Initiative – are rolling out networks either now or in the near future, depending on the project. Outputs for those stations will range from 50kW to 350kW.

And, while details are still to be confirmed, some car makers are understood to be in discussion on a charging partnership. The Tesla Owners Club of Australia has also been working to roll out its own national network, open to all EV owners and now spanning much of the country.

For now, and largely because the Australian launch of the I-Pace is so close, Jaguar is the only brand to have confirmed a Tesla-rivalling charging network of its own, with a $4 million investment going towards 150 dealer-based stations installed by JET Charge, but even those will only be 25kW units.