While charging infrastructure is well covered in popular centres, remote locations are yet to catch up. In this week’s episode of Drive TV, we undertake long-distance touring in the Tesla Model Y to determine if it’s up for the task.
Dear Drive.. Where we answer reader, viewer, and listener questions. Something on your mind? Call us on the radio show or email us at email@example.com.
We’ve been asked:
Can you do the kind of long-distance touring that you do at Drive with an electric vehicle?
In short, yes you can, but planning is key. There’s no way around the fact that with the current lack of public charging infrastructure, you need to plan ahead. Map out where you’re going, and where you want to stop. The way to maximise your charging downtime is to do it when you can stop for lunch, a coffee, or road-trip toilet breaks.
Check whether your accommodation has access to a power point. Even a regular power point will trickle in some useful charge overnight. If your accommodation doesn’t have easy access, research a hotel that is closer to a fast charger. That could also be an option.
We’re starting to see more fast chargers in more regional centres, and many of them are in useful positions that mean you can easily wander into town to use your time efficiently.
BP Pulse is being rolled out quickly, Ampol will offer charging at petrol stations around the country, and there’s no competition for the Tesla Supercharger network when you’re out touring. The motoring clubs (NRMA, RACV and the like) remain the mainstay of regional charging. Those chargers are generally close to the centre of town, they almost always work, and they are reliably fast.
On that note, at Drive, we jokingly say in regard to electric vehicles, life begins at 50. And by that, we mean 50kW charging capability. That will get you from 20 to 80 per cent in most electric vehicles in around an hour, and means you can get back on the road sooner and with less downtime.
Tesla Superchargers were our friend on this trip. Twice, we charged from 45 per cent to 100 per cent in around 27 minutes, which is fantastic when you’re looking to minimise downtime. If you buy a Tesla, you’ll also be using the app, and the way in which that app works with the charging network is the gold standard for all others to follow.
One of our favourite features of the app is that it shows you how many chargers are available, but also how many are in use. It means you know as you approach whether you’ll be able to plug in, and if you’re away from the car while it’s charging, you can also see whether more people are plugging in and demand is high.
Lastly, be considerate of others. We’ve spent a lot of time talking to EV owners out on the road, and the community is currently quite aware of people moving around in their EVs and their charging needs. As more people move into electric cars, though, charging etiquette will become even more important.
The last part of the charge phase to 100 per cent is the phase that slows right down, so don’t leave your car plugged in if you only need 80 or 90 per cent. Especially if you’re in a town where there are only one or two chargers available. There will almost always be someone else waiting for you to move on, so be aware of that and don’t leave your car plugged in for any longer than it needs to be.
So yes, you can do the kind of touring that we do at Drive, but you need to plan.
Have a question about your next set of wheels or just need some car advice? No query is too big, small or obscure! Call in to the radio show (Trent on 2GB Sydney 1:30pm Monday and 9:00pm Wednesday, 5AA South Australia 1:30pm Tuesday, and James on 3AW Melbourne 9:00pm each Thursday), or contact us by email here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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