Six popular tourist destinations in tropical north Queensland will offer free electric car charging thanks to a new pilot funded by the Queensland motorist’s association RACQ and the Queensland department for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning.
The six destinations – which are all in close proximity to Cairns and bridge three regional councils – include Paronella Park, Herberton Historic Village, Coffee Works Mareeba, Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, Hartleys Crocodile Adventures and the Mossman Gorge centre.
The charging sites will complement Queensland’s DC charging network, known as the Queensland Electric Super Highway (QESH), that spans the length of the state from Coolangatta in the south to Cairns in the north – and which has already been shown to be one of the most popular locations for EV charging.
Each site will offer an AC charging point with a charge rate of 3.6kW to 7kW from as soon as September 2019, meaning that visitors to the popular tourist destinations will be able to “top up” their EVs at a rate of up to 40km/hr, adding up to 120km of range to a vehicle in a three hour visit.
Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Cameron Dick gave the green light for the project on Monday, with state representatives for all three councils applauding the decision.
“Tropical North Queensland is home to many of our iconic tourism locations and that is why the Queensland Government is supporting this project with RACQ as a major sponsor,” said Member for Cook Cynthia Lui.
“We want to make it easy for the increasing number of EV drivers from all over Australia to spend time in beautiful Tropical North Queensland.”
“It means long-distance travel to the Cairns region by EV is much easier due to access to fast and ultra-fast charging using the 50kW (DC) fast chargers along the Queensland Electric Super Highway or the 350kW DC ultra-fast RACQ charger at Toombul Shopping Centre,” said Member for Barron River Craig Crawford.
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the trial would run for at least a year, and the charging could remain free for longer.
“It is expected that most, if not all, sites will continue to offer free EV charging once the trial has ended,” he said, noting that with EV ownership on the increase, there was a need for public infrastructure to keep up with the shift to electric mobility.
It is expected that the new AC charging network will attract visitors from as far away as Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide – in addition to the QESH there is also a 19-strong network currently being rolled out across the eastern seaboard from Brisbane in the south to Adelaide by charging net work provider Chargefox.
“They’ll allow users to get about the region and back home again along the Queensland Electric Super Highway through to Brisbane, or beyond to Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide via the Chargefox network,” RACQ head of public policy Dr Rebecca Michael said.
“We’ve seen many advancements in the electric vehicle market with a wider range of more affordable cars becoming available. It’s certainly an exciting time, but it hasn’t come without some challenges too.
“We know ‘range anxiety’ is a big fear for those considering making the switch to a low emissions vehicle, and a comprehensive and connected electric vehicle charging network is essential to calming these concerns.
“Those travelling along Queensland’s Electric Super Highway can now explore the beautiful far north region, with the confidence that they can charge up as they do so,” she said.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.