While governments and organisations such as the NRMA are working to expand Australia’s electric vehicle charging network, the infrastructure is still in its infancy. Long-haul EV road trips, therefore, require careful forethought and contingency plans to ensure they proceed smoothly.
Following our recent drama-fraught road trip to Tasmania from Sydney, we gleaned some useful tips that may help EV owners plan and execute a stress-free road trip.
1. Have a Plan B for charging and route
Having a Plan B is crucial when plotting out a long-haul trip in your electric vehicle. Whilst it is growing, Australia's charging infrastructure density – especially in regional centres – is not sufficient for road trippers to be blasé about when and where they will charge.
Have a backup route in case your original plan is no longer viable due to chargers being out of service, over-optimistic driving range or other unforeseeable events.
2. Consider if your accommodation is EV-friendly
As EVs become more and more popular, an increasing amount of venues are offering EV charging amenities. It's worth factoring in whether an establishment you're planning to stay at offers this, as charging your vehicle overnight can drastically cut down on the time spent charging come the following day.
3. Take charging time into account
It takes more time to 'fill up' an electric vehicle than it does with an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle, and their driving range is generally less. Because of these factors, EV road trippers are likely to make more stops – with each taking longer – than ICE vehicle drivers.
The time elapsed for charging stops can stack up quickly over the course of an entire road trip, so make sure to factor this in when planning your getaway. As our senior road tester says: "Touring in an EV is like touring with young children – the Google Maps indicated drive time can be misleading."
4. Allow extra time for contingencies
As with the previous tip, there are different variables and contingencies an EV road tripper faces compared to an ICE one. Much fewer charging stations exist than fuel bowsers, especially in regional areas, and this can add considerable and unpredictable time to your day's travels.
A busy petrol station may mean a wait of a few minutes before you reach a bowser, however a queue for occupied charging stations can add hours to your trip out of nowhere.
Try to be conservative in the distance between your next accommodation and plans when travelling in your EV, or try to time your charging stops at off-peak times.
5. Download charging station operator apps before you set off
Pay-to-use charging stations will generally require an app to operate. Getting signal to download these apps can be difficult – or downright impossible – to do in some regional areas, so it pays to download any (if not all) of the different charging operators' apps before you set off.
6. Take your own adaptor cables
EVs and charging stations can come with a few different types of charging sockets, and you don't want to arrive to a charging station only to find out it won't suit your vehicle.
A set of adaptor cables is a must for long trips in your EV as they will allow you to charge your car from any charging station you may come across, even if the vehicle is not fitted with a compatible plug.
7. Cold weather can affect an EV’s range
Plan your trip – and the distances between stops – based on what sort of climate you're likely to encounter. As we learnt in freezing Tasmania, battery range of EVs is heavily affected by cold weather. If you are likely to go through colder regions, be extra conservative with your estimated driving range and plan accordingly.