Australian electric vehicle charging provider Chargefox has reached an important milestone, with the announcement that it has totalled more than 100,000 charging sessions, delivering more than 5.8 million kilometres of electric driving over the last three years.
In total, Chargefox has powered some 104,000 charging sessions through its network of electric car chargers, nearly a quarter of those powered by 100% green energy.
Its network stretches from Cairns in Queensland’s north, down the eastern seaboard to Melbourne, and across to Adelaide, and includes both AC destination and DC fast chargers. When complete, the network will include fast charging sites in key cities and regional corridors such as the one opened in Torquay, Victoria in 2019.
Australia, however, remains a global laggard in terms of the electric transport transition. While EV sales in Australia tripled in 2019 from the year before, the total was still less than 7,000 sales.
Which makes the milestone more significant: According to Chargefox, across its 1,400 sites in Australia, New Zealand and the US, a charging station is plugged into every five minutes.
While the milestone of 100,000 sessions took a little longer than expected as people undertook stay-at-home measures due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Chargefox CEO Marty Andrews says he thinks post-Covid could have people rethinking electric cars.
“The winds of change are blowing and people are realising the benefits of renewables etc – smog free cities for example,” Andrews tells The Driven.
“Car sales across the board are down but I think that there’s a bit of community sentiment that my next vehicle will be an EV – that’d be great to see.”
The rollout of new chargers is picking up again as Covid-19 restrictions begin to lift – just in time as intrastate travel opens up this week in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, the ACT, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
As Andrews points out, there is likely to be more road tourism as restrictions lift.
While the Chargefox DC fast charging network has been made possible thanks to funding from the Australian Mobility Clubs (NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RAC, RAA and RACT), Andrews is mindful that there are still some gaps to fill – for regional and rural areas, electric vehicle tourism still has its limitations until electric vehicle networks are able to achieve “full coverage”.
“I use the mobile phone network analogy – we need coverage, we need to be able to travel everywhere,” says Andrews.
As with mobile phone networks, Andrews thinks that full coverage for electric car charging networks including in regional and rural areas will need a boost.
According to Andrews, “it’s a question of [electric vehicle charging] being equitable to people in regional rural areas – it’s the same as phone coverage.”
A national electric vehicle strategy is expected from the Coalition government soon. Having disparaged the clean transport strategy put forward by the Labor opposition in 2019, electric vehicles are now back on the table following the release of a Technology Investment Roadmap discussion paper in May.
What the national strategy will contain is as yet unknown, but it is thought that there will be a focus on electric vehicle infrastructure – and as with mobile phone network support, it makes sense that such a strategy focuses on regions.
“We’re all keen to see something, and again as more time passes and community sentiment changes I’m hopeful there will be more support of EVs than we’ve seen in the past,” says Andrews.
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.