We are a youngish couple, average age 80, who purchased our Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle in December, 2019. With border restrictions lifted we could finally take a pre-planned trip to visit Queensland and NSW relatives and friends.
In a world of misinformation and fear of change it was necessary to find out the real issues for Australians when buying an EV: Is range anxiety a valid concern? Are there enough charging stations where needed? Do you waste much time charging? Can you charge your EV at camping grounds, tent sites, cabins, motels and hotels?
We ordered our Model 3 after hearing that Tesla was bringing out a US$35,000 sedan. We waited patiently for 3 years for delivery. When it came, it was roughly twice that price in Australia as our governments here offer no incentives as they do elsewhere. We still bought it.
We wanted to choose our route without super charger location constraint. We live at Somers on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, where we “home charge” 95% of the time.
We planned to visit Mansfield, Whitfield, Buffalo Creek, Harrietville, Canberra, Yass, Bathurst, Orange, Wahroonga, Pearl Beach, Newcastle, Casuarina Beach, Brisbane, Toogoolawah, Stradbroke Is, Bribie Is, Woolloomooloo in that order.
Our vehicle has about 400km range. The use of Tesla Superchargers is exceedingly simple for Tesla owners. No app or credit card is needed. Just plug in and disconnect when you reach recommended 90% battery charge. Billing is automatic.
It typically takes about 25 minutes to charge from 40 – 90 % – enough time for a coffee and loo stop. Tesla locate their Superchargers near clean toilets and food outlets. The slower Tesla “Destination” Chargers are not convenient for us and we have never used them.
We topped up at the following Superchargers:- Richmond, Yea, Myrtleford, Wodonga, Gundagai, Canberra, Goulburn, Heatherbrae near Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Bathurst, Harwood, Coffs Harbour and Gold Coast (some on the return trip as well) – 20 times in total. People were surprised to learn that you can trickle charge through a standard 240V plug at camping grounds and friendly motels while you sleep.
Many forward-thinking hotels offer their own free EV charging to guests. If you stay with friends or relatives this applies as well. We considered a bottle of wine an appropriate gift to have a fully charged car by morning.
In all, we traveled 5020 km over 19 days, averaging 265 km per day. The furthest we drove between charges was 275 km and thus never feared flattening the battery. We did not have to modify our planned route and took time to make some interesting side excursions.
The total charging cost for the whole trip was $295, plus a few small thank you gifts.
The satellite navigation system was not reliable in areas of new motorways or in tunnel zones. This is a problem shared by many vehicles and smart phones.
It was not really an EV issue. The message to us was – do not become dependent on the sweet-talking lady in the smart device but use you own eyes and read the signs. Be prepared to turn off the device at times.
If you have an EV other than Tesla, you presumably have to download the app for the generic charging stations you use and pay by credit card. In an earlier trip to Tasmania we had trouble downloading an app, as we were on Optus and could not get Wi-Fi connection.
We could not therefore use the Campbelltown or Kempton Chargers, but fortunately had plenty of range to get us to our Sandford destination. Fortunately with Tesla Chargers we have had no such issues. Our next planned excursion is to Broken Hill.
Happy EV Driving
Here is te summary of our travels, charging, and costs.