15 June 2021

Call to plug EV 'black spots' in the NSW South East

| Kim Treasure
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Kathryn Maxwell charging her EV

SHASA President Kathryn Maxwell at an NRMA EV fast charger in Batemans Bay. Photo: Supplied.

Parts of the NSW South Coast could become ‘black spots’ for electric vehicle drivers which could impact visitor numbers unless action is taken to provide more charging stations in the region, a community group has claimed.

Participants at a Nature Conservation Council Regional conference in Batemans Bay recently heard of a push to install EV chargers on the Kings and Princes Highways, opening up the region to more travellers.

The South Coast Health and Sustainability Alliance (SHASA) is leading the charge, and president Kathryn Maxwell said it was crucial from both an economic and environmental perspective.

“We are increasingly losing out to other areas because we don’t have enough charging stations,” Ms Maxwell said.

“It’s almost like we are a black spot for EV chargers.”

“For Canberrans to come to the coast, we need one at Bungendore and one at Braidwood. It’s critical to have them – they are key stop-off points.

READ ALSO Network deal to boost number of EV fast chargers across the ACT

“Then, going south, we need places like Moruya, Narooma and Cobargo, and going north we need Ulladulla and other potential tourist spots.

“People need to be able to do top-ups, which only take 20 to 30 minutes. It makes having an EV more appealing and it’s another reason for tourists to stop in our towns.

“There are 1000 electric vehicles now in Canberra. We run a real risk of becoming less attractive as a destination because the Hume Highway has chargers and the North Coast has chargers – we are really missing out.”

Batemans Bay, Berry and Bega currently have fast chargers – but 280 km of highway separate them.

READ ALSO Moruya doctors buzzing with enthusiasm for electric vehicles

“It was a great start by the NRMA and we are very appreciative, but three chargers for the whole South Coast is not enough,” Ms Maxwell said.

“Our frustration is that the Federal Government should be doing it but that’s not happening.”

Louise McFadden

SHASA co-ordinator Louise McFadden with the SHASA Nissan Leaf at the Red Door Hall, Anglican Parish, Moruya. Photo: Supplied by SHASA.

Supported by the Nature Conservation Council, SHASA is now urging the NSW Government to look to the ACT and Victoria for inspiration on how to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles.

“The Victorian Government is offering a $3000 subsidy for EV buyers, and the ACT has free registration and stamp duty. We would like to see a combination of the best the ACT and Victoria can offer,” Ms Maxwell said.

“We have an expectation there will be some announcement in the State Budget – if there’s not we will certainly be making a noise about it.”

Rob Ogilvie from Ion DNA has heard anecdotal evidence of EV drivers making destination decisions based on the availability of charging stations. He said at least two tourism businesses he was aware of had seen an uptick in traffic after offering facilities for electric car drivers.

“From the tourism side of it, it’s quite a big factor,” he said.

“If a place doesn’t have an EV charger, are electric car drivers going to stop there?

“It would be great to see charging facilities at places like Nelligen as well.”

More charging hubs would also allow a lower price point for entry into the electric vehicle market with the cheaper vehicles having less range.

“We are hoping when we see their (NSW Government) budget, there will be a whole lot of chargers in there,” Mr Ogilvie said.

“(Transport Minister) Andrew Constance is very keen on it.”

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Absolutely correct. Although EV numbers are extremely modest at the moment, the take up will be surprisingly fast. I’ve been driving a low range EV for over three years in south eastern NSW, and can attest that the more Fast and Rapid Chargers, the more we visit, stay and/or spend in other locations.

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