110 years ago the organisation, also known as RAC, was created to respond to the needs of pioneering motorists and to counter the hostility against cars, in the world dominated by horse carriages. Continuing with the tradition of helping innovative transport modes to flourish, RAC decided this time to join in promoting electric mobility by tackling the biggest problem that prevents EVs from spreading, i.e. the range anxiety. Collaborating with seven councils in the Western Australia, who became charger operators, they sponsored 12 fast charging stations to deploy between Perth and Augusta. This ‘Electric Highway’ project started operating its publicly-accessible multi-standard chargers in June. The bright yellow chargers by Circontrol are equipped with CHAdeMO, CCS and Type 2 connectors and thus can serve all electric cars in the market.
Today, it is still very rare to see an EV in Australia – only about 1100 EVs including EVs with a range extender were sold in 2014, of which less than 30% are privately owned. On this huge continent, big driving distances between towns and the absence of fast chargers are major deterrents to purchasing an EV. While Europe and the US have seen their charger count grow exponentially year by year over the past 3 years, lack of subsidies of any kind to help offset the high initial cost of charger deployment meant the infrastructure development in Australia has been very slow. On the western side of the country, there was only one fast charger before the arrival of the ‘Electric Highway’. Now, finally, EV drivers in at least one Australian region can drive their car outside of the range of their battery and without worrying about where to charge next.
RAC’s intention to deploy fast chargers despite the fact that there are not many EVs in Australia yet is to get people interested and intrigued and, perhaps, eventually, think about buying an EV.
“I think it’s just about getting people exposed to them and I think this highway will give people the opportunity to think, ‘What’s that car doing? What does it do? What does it mean?’,” said Esme Bowen, the president of RAC. With sustainability as an additional motivation for the project, RAC is helping EVs get a foothold in the country, while greening the individual transport down under.
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