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Australia rolls out first commercial EV charging stations

New Tritium charging stations built along the Queensland highway are a step in the right direction

As of the 31st of January, 2016, Australia had 18.4 million cars registered for use by a population of 23.1 million people. Such a high use of cars is hardly surprising as the width of the country is basically equal to that of Europe. Towns and cities are spread out, with suburbs full of large houses expanding into nothing but nature. Public transport is meagre, with few things in walking distance. This is one environment in which you would be mad not to have a car.

Australia’s relatively small population does not make it the largest market available for electric vehicles when compared with China or the USA; however the high percentage of cars per capita still offers attractive opportunities.

One manufacturer of charging stations, Tritium, is making an early play. The Brisbane-based company is currently installing the first of five planned commercial charging stations in Queensland, Australia, after installing two on the campus of Brisbane University and having already entered the market in North America and Europe.

Technologically, Tritium chargers break down many psychological barriers people have when deciding between electric cars and fuel powered ones. Commercially-located Tritium fast-chargers will charge vehicles 20 times quicker than a standard domestic charger, giving the user a 50km range in only ten minutes. Secondly, per kilometre, the chargers provide a cheaper alternative to the fuel used to power a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle.

So there’s just one hurdle left to jump, that of mobility.

Tritium has taken a stance on the old chicken-egg conundrum which regularly comes with introduction of electric cars into a region, by creating the infrastructure first. Tritium believes this encourages people to take on an electric car. Managing director of Tritium Dr David Finn explains: “making the choice between petrol cars and electric cars…even if they are the same price, if you tell me an electric car can’t move me from Brisbane to Sydney, I will just buy the petrol car.”

“Without infrastructure, that decision will continue to get made and we won’t have a mass uptake,” he said.

Undoubtedly, Finn is a bit of a risk taker. Currently, only 3,487 electric cars are registered throughout Australia, 2,015 of which are the Mitsubishi Outlander hybrid. However, converts are out there: 528 pure electric Nissan Leafs, 334 Teslas, and 106 BMWs paint a rosier outlook for future uptake.

The rolling out of charging stations in South-East Queensland between Noosa and Brisbane, Electrans remains optimistic. It’s a small first step, but with more public charging infrastructure, EVs could yet become a realistic option for people – even in a place as sparsely populated as Australia.

[EDIT] Following the publication of this article, it has become apparent that the Queensland government has invested AU$2.5million in the introduction of commercial Tritium EV charging stations, indicating a more stable future for EVs in Australia. Tritium’s Commercial Director and Co-Founder, Dr Paul Sernia told Electrans: “Since its launch we have seen a steadily growing number of enquiries from Australia… Both the public and the private sectors play important roles in the development and acceptance of this burgeoning technology.”

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