A Tesla driver doing a round-Australia trip in an electric car has clocked almost 1,000km in one day driving to Perth, Western Australia.
Richard Smith (aka @outbacktesla) tweeted the impressive achievement on Thursday after reaching the Western Australian capital, completing the long drive from hometown Darwin.
It is the first leg in a mission to travel to all Australian states and capital cities to prove the point that electric cars can travel long distances across the wide expanses of Australia.
Incidentally, Smith was the first point of call for Dutchman Wiebe Wakker – who recently completed a world record-breaking 95,000km trip from Europe and around Australia.
Unlike Wakker’s converted VW Golf with about 230km range, Smith is driving a Model X 100D, with just over twice the range of Wakker’s Golf.
Over Wednesday and Thursday last week Smith travelled 1,789km in total – and without using a DC fast-charger.
We keep hearing "EVs wont work for Australia's vast distances".
Over the last two days I've driven 1789 kms through outback Western Australia (Day 1=881 kms, Day 2=908 kms). Total for the week 4314 kms, all in remote Aus! #EVs4Aus #EVeXploreAus @Tesla @mcannonbrookes @simonahac pic.twitter.com/E9uG0MHkpf
— outbacktesla (@outbacktesla) April 19, 2019
“I just thought that was worthy of shouting out, in that the most common thing you hear – and I hear it a lot in the top end because everyone’s driving to Alice Springs over a couple of days (which is 1,600km) – they say you can’t do that in electric vehicle,” Smith told The Driven in an interview.
With each day’s drive split into two parts with a few hours’ rest in between while the car charged up again, Smith says rather than experiencing “range anxiety” he felt “range confidence”.
“I talk to people about range confidence – the feedback the car’s giving you all the time about your remaining charge and your remaining range and how efficient you’re being, you know you get a lot of information in real time,” Smith says.
With the ability to enter your destination into modern EVs, Smith says that to him driving an electric car is the exact opposite of range anxiety.
“You plug in where you going in your navigation and then you get a whole heap of trip information right up front and in fact, if you’re not going to make it, the car will tell you, or it will tell you have to drive it under 90km/hr.”
“To me, range anxiety is an orange petrol light coming on when you’re 50kms out of somewhere and you don’t know whether that means you’ve got 70km or you’ve got 10km – with these cars you know absolutely how far you can get, which is fantastic,” Smith says.
In addition to the feedback given by his Tesla, Smith says that his Tesla’s enhanced Autopilot has made the outback’s long distances easier and safer to drive.
“I’ve got the enhanced Autopilot and on a road trip it is brilliant, I think so far this trip maybe I’ve actually driven about 10% of the time, and I’ve had the car on Autopilot the rest of the time,” he says, adding that he’s got his hands ready to takeover as required.
Smith says he arrives feeling less drained from the long drive, but also – importantly – is more attentive to the road when driving.
“Because the is car steering and taking care of the speed … you keep your eyes up and you’re looking around and probably scanning a bit more than usual, rather than [looking] down at my speedo all the time.
“You definitely do arrived more refreshed … the enhanced Autopilot is perfect for outback driving, it’ll follow the road, it will brake if you’ve got cars in front of you, it’ll do all that no problems at all.”
Smith expects the trip, once finished, will be around 20,000km – although he may have to leave Tasmania out due to a flat tyre that kept him in Perth over Easter.
In Perth, he was able to plug the car into the first Tesla Supercharger of the trip – but for the next stretch to Adelaide it will be back to AC charging with the next Supercharger 2,700km away.
Very first Supercharge ever ????. Normal for many of you I know, but has been a 4665 kms drive to get here….and next one is around 2700 kms away. Wow! pic.twitter.com/ozHWXOxK0X
— outbacktesla (@outbacktesla) April 22, 2019
In the meantime, Smith plans to stop at motels and hotels that offer electric car charging – where he can wake up with a “full tank” every morning.
Is the Australian outback ready for electric cars? Smith thinks so.
“The bush are actually really ready for EVs,” he says.
“They’re very interested in them, such as little roadhouses that I’ve stopped at in the middle of nowhere, they actually know about EVs, they’re taking the trouble to put a plugin even if their core business is selling petrol,” says Smith.
“They’re ready for EVs and they they’ll tell you that they can see the future coming and they are more than happy with it.”
Bridie Schmidt is associate editor for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.