“Fair crack of the flaming whip!”
Another ripping example of an Australian slicing through myths that electric cars cannot drive far enough or are not powerful enough has been shared to social media, this time by Tesla owner Phil Smith from Cairns, who is currently on a mission to drive around Australia in his Tesla Model 3.
This time, Smith has defeated one of the most longest and most isolated stretches of outback highway driving: Tennant Creek to Mataranka in Australia’s remote Northern Territory.
The 550km+ journey can be a challenge for fossil fuel cars. While there are at least seven petrol stations on this particular route, a breakdown in searing heat without sufficient supplies can be life-threatening.
While an electric vehicle is less likely to “break down”, most electric vehicles cannot yet drive more than 500km. Smith’s Tesla Model 3 does about 400km, depending on driving style and terrain.
In the Australian outback, opportunities to recharge can be few and far between.
Many roadhouses are happy to make three-phase power outlets available to electric road trippers, but between Tennant Creek and Mataranka there are only 240-volt connections which would mean having to stop for a whole day to recharge.
Smith, one of several road trippers currently doing the “Big Lap” around Australia, says he consulted fellow big-lapper Jules Boag before undertaking the 6 hour drive on Thursday.
The technique he used – called “hypermiling” – is simply to drive slowly and ensure the car’s energy consumption is kept as low as possible.
“Just had the day filled with the experience of ‘hypermiling’ from Tennant Creek to Mataranka. Over 550kms at 60 kms an hour. There is a lot of room for fast chargers in Oz!!! Thanks for the tips on what a tricky section this was @julesboag,” Smith posted on Twitter.
Fair crack of the flaming whip! Just had the day filled with the experience of ‘hypermiling’ from Tennant Creek to Mataranka. Over 550kms at 60 kms an hour 🤣. There is a lot of room for fast chargers in Oz!!! Thanks for the tips on what a tricky section this was @julesboag pic.twitter.com/1ubP7bNtOS
— Phil’s Electric Future (@filsmif) April 29, 2021
So far, the trip has cost Smith about $60 in charging, driving from Cairns down to Mackay then onto the last fast charger on his route in Rockhampton.
From then he drove onto Emerald, then Winton where he was able to use a 15 amp point, with the intention of driving through to Mt Isa.
However, having been a little too heavy-footed on the accelerator, he was forced to stop at Cloncurry.
“Left Winton with the intention of getting to Mount Isa but only got to Cloncurry. Could have made it if I went slower,” he said in another post, “but the pool and 32 amp three phase in camp mode at Cloncurry caravan park made up for it.”
Left Winton with the intention of getting to Mount Isa but only got to Cloncurry. Could have made it if I went slower but the pool and 32 amp three phase in camp mode at Cloncurry caravan park made up for it. Very helpful staff and a nice neat place to watch @_TeslaTom latest vid pic.twitter.com/nTgggwRPcb
— Phil’s Electric Future (@filsmif) April 19, 2021
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 since 2018. She 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.