Having a niece get married on the Sunshine Coast was a good excuse to take our 2015 Tesla on another long road trip, this time from south of Perth to Maleny via Norseman and Ceduna, the fourth Nullarbor crossing in this car.
The most obvious route for a Tesla east of Port Augusta would be the longer, but 100% reliable, Tesla Supercharger network passing through Tailem Bend, Ballarat, Euroa, Sydney and on to Brisbane.
Free supercharging, faster charging rates and higher average speeds on reasonable highways, so why wouldn’t we go that way considering the alternative, that being 50kw Tritium Veefil DC chargers, a unit that is fast developing a poor reputation for reliability and long repair times?
After crossing the Nullarbor and a side trip north to Uluru using only three-phase AC charging we departed Port Augusta with a very flexible plan, use every available NRMA DC charger, keep the battery charge between 40 to 85% and make sure the car had enough charge to reach the following charger if we arrived at a broken unit.
If we had the misfortune of two consecutive broken units, plan C was to locate the nearest three-phase AC and charge at 22kw.
Now for those EV drivers that live around the capital cities and have witnessed the rapid decline in DC charger reliability throughout 2022 you’re going to find this hard to believe but every single Veefil DC we plugged into worked, 9 in a row, first time every time.
So why did I only rate it 9/10 when the trip was perfect? The Dubbo unit has been reported broken on Plugshare for at least 6 weeks, this leaves a gap of 280kms, my EV can make that distance with ease, there’s also 4 Tesla superchargers in the same Dubbo carpark available to me but not to many other EV owners.
In the next 12 months tens of thousands of non Teslas will arrive in Australia, so this is about them, not me.
In these early days of one DC charger at each stop one broken unit is possibly going to leave an EV owners travel plans disrupted while they get enough trickle charge from a slower AC outlet to get to the next location. *Take note this is no fault of the NRMA, it’s a supplier issue.
NRMA Chargers on the route we visited:
- Berri – South Australia: A detour off the main highway but close to shops and toilets with a nice short walk to river and café.
- Mildura – Victoria: Very close to highway, two separate chargers. Relatively short walk to get food and drink.
- Balranald – NSW: 30 metres from the highway, café, toilets and visitors centre right there. Short walk to river.
- Hay – NSW: In town centre across from visitors centre and toilets. Couldn’t ask for better.
- West Wyalong – NSW: 100m walk to the main street, with the toilets another 100m away.
- Parkes – NSW: Near the swimming pool. Short walk to town attractions and toilets.
- Dubbo – NSW: Did not use as marked on Plugshare inoperable, but used the Supercharger in the same car park. Main shops at least a 500m walk to the west (although there was an art gallery café close by that was not open at the time we were there). Unlike the other chargers this was further away from the highway. I would expect a location the size of Dubbo will get multiple DC chargers fairly soon.
- Coonabarabran – NSW: Next to the visitors centre and toilets with a short walk to the town centre.
- Gunnedah – NSW: On a one way street, third car park on left (Kepreotes). A short walk to shops and toilets. If you are heading north get a good charge here as the altitude goes up over 500m (if you are going to bypass Tamworth) to the next charging locations.
- Tamworth – NSW: Did not use as opted to use Supercharger to leave NRMA charger available for non Teslas. NRMA charger was in a different location.
- Glen Innes – NSW: Close to shops and toilets. There are security cameras but personally I would not leave my car here after dark. Tesla destination charger and Type 2 close by (visitors centre car park) if this charger is in use.
To summarise, the NRMA has done an excellent job in finding suitable charger locations in each town we visited. None of the chargers were ICED, most were very close to toilets and shops, and the pin drops were correct. Kudos to the NRMA for taking on the challenge and providing this great service to locals and tourists.