When I drove an ICE (internal combustion engine) car there was only one place to fuel up – at the service station.
Yes, there were lots of them around, but they were all essentially the same, the price was similar, the experience was similar (visual and olfactory). You got in quick, you got out quick. The electric car charging ecosystem, however, is a complex web with lots of options, cheap prices (or free) for slow charging and reasonable prices for fast charging.
Electric vehicles are like flexitarians; they can eat anything, anywhere. I normally charge at home, on off peak.
But, I could just as well charge off any power point in my house, depending on how much time I had and how much I wanted to pay. I choose off peak because it is only 13 cents per kWh. Every house is a charging station. I often tell people we have a petrol bowser on the roof (solar panels).
My recent drive to Winton taught me that there are even more options. We charged at Tesla Superchargers at about 50c per kWh, at QESH high speed chargers at 20c per kWh, at destination chargers at motels for free, at caravan parks for free, at a tourist information centre for free and at Winton, from an external power point with an extension cord, for free.
I am expecting that the eco system for charging EVs will become even more diverse, and we would be well to look to Scandinavia where you can buy a charge with your Big Mac, or to the UK where you can charge while buying your groceries at Sainsburys.
The time will come when we can plug in when shopping (you already can some major shopping centres – Toombul and Orion are good examples in Brisbane), when you go out for a meal, when visiting a winery or going to the doctors.
Low speed chargers are easy and cheap to install and will be used to lure electric car drivers to the shops who choose them. Fueling up will not need to be a separate excursion to unique space. What will become of servos then?
Will they convert? Will they be full of high speed chargers with duff duff music playing and the temptation of chocolate milk and a cheese toasty? As the EV ecosystem expands and people realise they are not required to “go somewhere to fill up” servos not on highways (the corner 7/11) may be fighting to survive.
Not enough chargers, not likely!
David Waterworth is a researcher and writer, a retired school teacher who continues to provoke thought through thedriven. He divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He owns 50 shares of Tesla.