Another electric car owner is demonstrating the ease with which Australia’s vast distances can be navigated by EVs, and with a panache that paints not only the beauty of our wide outback landscapes, but also of his vehicle – a Tesla Model 3.
We previously shared electric car owner John-Paul Thorbjornsen‘s story of putting his new Performance Model 3 through the “submarine mode” test – with flying colours and some questions about the wisdom of move.
Now, Thorbjornsen has joined the pages of Australian EV chronicles alongside pioneers such as Sylvia Wilson, Wiebe Wakker, Rob and Robin Dean, Linda Röhrs and “Outback Tesla” (aka Richard) and shared with us his trip around Australia from Melbourne, to Darwin, then Broome and (so far) down to Perth.
Driving almost 10,000km in total through the varying colours and landscapes up the Australian east coast, across to Darwin and then down through the striking red vistas of Western Australia, Thorbjornsen (known as @JPTesla on Twitter) took the opportunity to capture his red Model 3 against some mind-blowing backgrounds.
“It looks great, especially with the red dirt and the red paint,” Thorbjornsen, who has just finished the Darwin to Perth leg of his trip, tells The Driven.
He’s not wrong – just check out the images below and via his blog of the trip on Medium.
“It was great driving through the desert,” says Thorbjornsen. “Mostly the top half of Western Australia very wet and green, the boab trees were all green.”
With both Karratha green and the Gascoyne River (which rarely flows) full after the passage of ex-cyclone Damien, the opportunities were many.
After getting to Perth, Thorbjornsen drove down to the Margaret River region before preparing for the next leg – Perth to Adelaide via Albany, Esperance and Border Town.
Between Darwin and Perth, the entire trip was done without DC superchargers. The daily ritual was locating 3-phase plugs on Plugshare, then calling ahead to ensure access before driving the next leg.
Hosts were accommodating, and one was so enamoured by Thorbjornsen‘s Model 3 that “by the end of the conversation she had ordered a Cybertruck,” laughs Thorbjornsen. “It’s been a hit.”
All up, the trip cost less than $300 from Melbourne to Perth (excluding free charging with accommodation) – $180 in supercharging in the first leg to Darwin and around $100 in cash for 3-phase chargers, says Thorbjornsen.
Autopilot made driving the long distances less of a drain, an anecdote that has been reported by other Tesla circumnavigators.
“You can whack it in Autopilot and sit back and relax – we’ve done stints where we drove 300km straight without any interrruptions in Autopilot,” says Thorbjornsen.
The only negatives that came out of the trip were learning the RAC charging network around Perth is not currently compatible with the Model 3 (apparently a known issue that is being worked on), and the fact that a Better Route Planner does not work for the outback.
“We ended up planning manually,” says Thorbjornsen. “We would work out the distances between legs, work out how many watts we had left, work out how many watt hours we could use per kilometre, then drive accordingly keeping the power consumption page up to make sure.”
His only criticism of the Model 3 was that “user experience is not set up for range planning – do have to constantly run the maths”.
Other than that, Thorbjornsen says, “the Model 3 is extremely comfortable to travel in – I wouldn’t dream of doing that drive in anything but a large 4WD, and I wouldn’t ever consider a normal sedan.”
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.