Could This Make Electric Cars Actually Work?

To be honest, I didn’t think we were going to make it.

The math was barely on our side, and the number on the dashboard kept ticking down…quick.

The car’s fuel gauge showed we had 17 km worth of gas left and the next gas station was 12 km away. 5 km to spare…that is, if you trusted the numbers.

Would we make it?

First, let me backtrack.

Over a year ago we went on a road trip to Sydney, for the first time, to spend Christmas there. On our way, we decided to stop at Canberra, to check it out.

From what we had heard, most people don’t care much for Canberra.

But, to be honest, we liked Canberra.  We liked the city, the people, the museums.

It probably has to do with the fact Canberra loosely reminded us of Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. We spent many of our teen years living there.

And they both seem to have some parallels. They are both relatively new cities planned in isolated areas. They may not look like much to visitors, but are great places to be if you live there.

Anyway, after stopping for the night at Canberra, we set off to Sydney with about 100 km left on the tank.

On our way out, we saw a gas station, but we missed the exit. So, we kept driving thinking there would be more coming up.

Boy, were we wrong.

We were half way to Goulburn and there were no signs of a petrol station nearby. That’s when we decided to look it up, and we realized that the nearest gas station was the one we had seen back in Canberra…or straight ahead in Goulburn.

Both almost equidistance…and getting there would mean that our gas supply would be dwindling closer to zero.

So, we kept driving to Goulburn…which brings me back to the beginning of the story.

The thing is, it was the middle of the summer, and it was hot. Having the aircon was surely affecting our petrol supply.

We switched the aircon off, opened the windows…and hoped for the best.

As the petrol gauge ticked to 9 km, we saw Goulburn’s iconic ram.

Phew…covered in sweat, we pulled into the gas station, with some kilometres to spare.

Who hasn’t experienced the anxiety of running out of petrol before you can refuel?

Of course, electric car owners have their own version of it, something called ‘range anxiety’.

Yet we imagine that this anxiety is probably much worse for electric car owners… because there isn’t much infrastructure for them in place yet.

And even if you manage to find a charging station, it may not be a fast charging one. You may need to wait there for hours to get your car charged.

Number of electric cars in Australia set to increase

While not having enough charging stations is putting people off from buying an electric car here in Australia, the government is looking to change that.

From The Australian Financial Review (AFR):

A national fast-charging network for electric cars should be built in the next five years, Infrastructure Australia has declared as it outlined its top priorities for 2019.

‘Lack of access to charging stations is a key barrier to the adoption of electric vehicles, with Australia still having less than 800 stations nationally – only 70 of which are considered “fast charging.” The fastest charging stations under development in Australia could give cars enough power to travel 400 kilometres in 15 minutes.

‘It is the first time an electric vehicle charging network has been named as a “high priority initiative” by Infrastructure Australia, the federal statutory body, which on Thursday releases its biggest and most diverse annual list of project recommendations to date, naming 121 projects and proposals worth $58 billion.

‘Although some states have been developing regional charging networks, such as Queensland’s electric super highway, there is no national network.

‘”Electric vehicles are going to be a game changer in terms of improving our national productivity as well increasing our environmental sustainability,” said Anna Chau, Infrastructure Australia’s acting chief executive.

‘”But to take advantage of those benefits you really need the enabling infrastructure to go in and that’s really a fast-charging network that gives drivers and passengers the confidence to make the trips they need to make, especially the long-distance ones.”

According to a report by Climate Works Australia, there were 2,284 electric vehicles sold in Australia in 2017, a 67% increase from numbers the previous years.

And that number is set to increase as consumers get more incentives to make the switch.

In Australia, there is currently one charging station now for every six electric vehicles. But as numbers increase, we will need more charging stations.

According to Energeia, Australia will need almost 30,000 DC charging points by 2040. That’s a massive investment.

The thing is, electric charging stations could look massively different from our current gas stations. You don’t need to accommodate massive trucks to bring fuel in or storage tanks.

Differently to petrol, electricity is everywhere. You only need electricity…and a plug.

And you could pretty much install them anywhere.

You could be recharging as your car is parked while you do your grocery shopping…or as you dine at a restaurant…or as, we have written before, as you drive.

Stay tuned for more on this…

Best,

Selva Freigedo,
Editor, Markets & Money


Selva Freigedo is an analyst with a background in financial economics. Born and raised in Argentina, she has also lived in Brazil, the US and Spain. She has seen economic troubles firsthand, from economic booms to collapses and the effects of hyperinflation, high unemployment, deposit freezes and debt default. Selva now writes from her vantage point here in Australia. She is lead Editor at the daily e-letter Markets & Money. And every week, she goes through each report and research note produced by our global network of trusted advisors to find, in her opinion, the best investment opportunities for you in Australia and overseas. She packages these opportunities for you in Global Investor.


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