Chargefox’s EV charging network will link Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane. Image: Chargefox

Fast-charger network to speed EV uptake

Chargefox is deploying 21 new charging sites with at least 42 charging stations along major driving routes across Australia in the “ultra rapid” network that will connect Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide. ABB has been selected by Chargefox as a key technology partner and supplier for the ultra-rapid charging network, with its Terra High Power electric-vehicle chargers capable of charging at up to 350kW. That means adding more than 400km of range to an electric vehicle in just 15 minutes – the fastest of any charger currently deployed in Australia.

Frank Muehlon, Managing Director for electric vehicle charging infrastructure at ABB, said: “ABB is proud to collaborate with Chargefox and its partners on this innovative venture, the first of its kind in Australia, and to be able to assist in deploying the first of the new generation of high-power charging stations in Asia Pacific.

“We are delighted that our pioneering charging technology can assist in driving the increased adoption of electric vehicles and the resultant benefits for the environment.”

Chargefox chief executive Marty Andrews said Chargefox is committed to sustainable mobility and that the network of ultra-rapid charging stations will play a significant part in improving the infrastructure of this country and remove one of the major barriers that limits the adoption of EVs.

“The charging stations will enable all modern EV drivers to confidently drive between Australia’s major cities. We are confident this technology will also ensure we are future ready as Australia’s EV market grows.”

Chargefox has successfully raised $15 million from state car clubs NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RAC, RAA and RACT, and Carsales founder Greg Roebuck, with grants from ARENA and the Victorian Government to deliver the rollout.

The network will be powered by purchased renewable energy.

Australia’s first ultra-rapid electric vehicle charging site was this week opened at Euroa in central Victoria, with an on-site trial of solar and battery powered system.

Australia’s charging network will be public and compatible with all models of electric vehicles currently sold in Australia, with distances between plugs planned to be no greater than 200 kms – well within the range of today’s EVs.

A 15-minute recharge is seen as a game-changer that reduces “range anxiety” and will encourage the sale of more electric vehicles. And there is more choice: several manufacturers are introducing new electric vehicles next year, including Jaguar Land Rover, Hyundai and Audi. Signs are that electric vehicles could reach price parity with petrol cars within the next few years.

Chargefox currently manages a network of over 350 charging plugs owned by local councils, shopping centres and retailers. These stations are almost all 25kW or lower in power, with only a few DC 50kW stations on the network.

Chargefox CEO Marty Andrews says the 21 new charging sites just announced will unlock Australia’s most trafficked inter-city routes along major highways to electric vehicles.

“These are super-high powered stations, so the car will charge itself up in 15 minutes while you are inside grabbing a snack,” he said.

ARENA chief executive Darren Miller says the agency is supporting Chargefox to help increase the uptake of electric vehicles in Australia.

Electric vehicles are the future, but gaps in charging infrastructure need to be closed for them to become a mainstream option,” he said. “A lack of access to convenient public charging points for long distance travel – is something we need to start solving now.

The site at Euroa is the first of six electric vehicle ultra-rapid charging stations planned for Victoria, with five more planned for the strategic locations of Melbourne, Ballarat, Horsham, Torquay and Traralgon.

Speaking in Euroa during the opening Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said “Uptake of electric vehicles will help us reduce emissions and to tackle climate change.”

“More Victorians will be driving electric vehicles in the future, that’s why we’re building the infrastructure to be ready to meet this demand.”

Victoria’s Labor Government which has legislated net-zero emissions by 2050 has committed $2 million to support the rollout says the charging stations will boost tourism opportunities for the regions.