It is now possible to drive an electric car all the way from Cairns to Coolangatta and give petrol at $1.50 a litre the big snub, with the Palaszczuk government’s east coast network of charging stations all but complete.
For the first 12 months, electric charging at the stations will be free but after that it will cost, on average, about $45 a month to charge an electric car.
Overall, Australia lags behind international steps to adopt electric cars and the federal government is openly investigating the hidden costs of electric vehicles.
Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia now all have fledgling electric super highways.
Demand is on an upward trajectory.
In 2016, Queensland had fewer than 300 fully electric cars registered. With hybrids included, that figure rose to about 700.
As of early 2018, the number had swollen to 1300, including hybrid cars.
Globally, there are about 2 million fully electric vehicles on the road.
Queensland electric car drivers cars can now recharge in 17 locations north and south of Brisbane and west to Toowoomba. The early idea is for the charging stations to be powered by electricity generated by renewable energy sources.
Last July, Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads promised to have a $3 million network of 18 “fast-charging” electric car chargers in place within six months.
Most of the chargers were built by Brisbane company Tritium, which provided the Veefil fast chargers to countries throughout Europe, while a smaller number were provided by EVLink, which were manufactured by Schneider Electric.
On Wednesday, Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey will announce that, except for a planned fast-charger at Helensvale, Queensland’s other 17 fast electric car chargers were now operating.
“This electric super highway is a series of fast-charging electric vehicle stations that make it possible to drive an electric vehicle from the state’s southern border to the far north,” Mr Bailey said.
“We knew our vision was ambitious, but this shift is happening around the world and unfortunately Australia is lagging behind.”
Helensvale has been slightly delayed by technical problems and will be in place after the April Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
However, the distance from Brisbane to the fast electric car charger at Gold Coast Airport at Tugun is 98 kilometres and well within the range of even a small electric sedan.
The final two electric chargers were installed in Townsville and Carmila, near Mackay, last week.
“With these two charging stations coming on line last week, the initial phase of the Queensland Electric Super Highway is officially up and running,” Mr Bailey said.
“We now have the world’s longest electric vehicle super highway in a single state stretching all the way up our beautiful eastern coastline.”
RACQ chief executive Paul Turner said the motorists’ lobby group welcomed the step into the future.
“We’ve seen similar networks set up in New South Wales and West Australia and South Australia, where the governments – mostly with private sector involvement – are providing the bare bones needed for the adoption of electric vehicles,” he said.
Mr Turner said there were problems in encouraging motorists to switch to electric cars.
“We understand fewer than 300 were sold in Australia last year,” Mr Turner said.
“So we are well behind Europe and the United States when it comes to the adoption of electric vehicles.”
Mr Turner said high purchase price, poor availability, poor battery capacity and aesthetically unattractive cars had so far stalled sales of electric cars in Australia.
“But we are now seeing a massive increase in their range from around 100 kilometres to around 400 kilometres to 450 kilometres and that will have a massive impact on the take-up,” he said.
Mr Turner called for state and federal governments to encourage the switch to electric cars by offering state registration fee discounts and federal luxury car tax discounts.
Fast-charging stations have been installed in Cairns, Tully, Townsville, Miriam Vale, Bowen, Carmila, Mackay, Marlborough, Rockhampton, Maryborough, Childers, Cooroy, Hamilton, Brisbane CBD, Gatton, Coolangatta, Springfield and Toowoomba.
There are several different types of electric charging systems; slower overnight “wall system” charging systems suitable for homes and the “fast” charging systems, which take about an hour to charge a car.
Fast chargers will cost about $1.50 per day or about $40 per month, depending on the make of electric car and how far it is driven.
In Western Australia, they now cost 45₵ per kilowatt-hour of power to charge an electric car from a “fast” charging station and the batteries range from 33 kilowatt-hour to 100 kilowatt-hour, for a top-of-the-range Tesla.
A fast-charging battery recharge station takes approximately 20-30 minutes to restore a fully depleted Nissan Leaf battery to about 80 per cent.