Mark Purcell and his family have just completed a holiday drive, travelling 8000 km from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland to Hobart in Tasmania and back, all the while myth busting about the capabilities of electric vehicles. He tells me that he visited 19 Tesla Superchargers with zero wait time at a total cost of $333. He started at the Sunshine Coast, then to Sydney, on to Melbourne, and then Tasmania in his Tesla Model 3 Performance. “It just worked!” he said.
It wasn’t all about the chargers. He and his family enjoyed some some spectacular mountain scenery driving through the Snowy Mountains in NSW, Lake Mountain in VIC, and Ben Lomond in TAS.
Chargers in the gap between Eden and Lakes Entrance (where we had to beg for a cup of electrons) are built at Orbost and Cann River, but still not yet commissioned. Stop the press — Cann River is now open! There’s now one Tesla Supercharger and 3 public fast chargers open there.
Mark charged at Marlo, where one destination charger was working out of two. When we checked on our trip, neither was working.
Multiple sites are under construction in this 400 km stretch of highway between Bega and Sale. Once these fast chargers are operational in Malakuta, Orbost, Lakes Entrance, Omeo, and Bairnsdale, the adventure will have gone out of the trip. But it will still be fun, with lots of chats at the charging stations.
Mark describes the difficulties he found in Marlo: “2 days ago I arrived at an AC charging point 200 km from the nearest DC fast charger in Marlo. It was in use for 3 hours so I had to wait at the Marlo hotel. We had arrived at lunchtime, planning to get a top up while we ate and then press on. Another Tesla driver was using the only working charger. I checked in as waiting on the PlugShare app but other driver didn’t see it as he had not checked in with PlugShare.
“We enquired around, but could not find the other owner when the car was charged. The hotel management kindly offered me a 15 amp socket which would take 6 hours to charge my battery. At dinner time the other driver moved his Tesla so I plugged in. I didn’t have a chance to chat to him as he was gone by the time we realised the car was moving. By this time we had decided to stay overnight so I could do my 3 hour charge.”
At a charger in Hunter Valley, NSW, Mark had a similar experience. A Tesla was parked at the charger but not plugged in. So Mark plugged the car in, which prompted a notification. The driver quickly came and moved his car. “He thought they could use it as a parking spot.”
Mark tells me that the non-Tesla fast chargers on the main coastal route between Sydney and Melbourne were only 50% operational. Thankfully, the regional inland NRMA network all worked and were free. Mark used the PlugShare app to plan his trip.
Tasmania was even better. “It was hard to drive more than 50 km without finding an EV fast charger.”
His blog contains this typical comment: “Overall a good day’s driving (734 km), stopped at three Superchargers and personally had zero wait for a free stall, lots of shared charging only delivering a slow 65 kW. Others arriving after me did have wait times of 5–10 minutes, but the turnover was quick.”
He says that there were a “pack of Teslas playing leap frog” moving down the highway. With his Model 3 Performance, he was able to be the first at the chargers, or even skip to the next one with his longer range. Myth busting and having fun.
Some excerpts from his blog:
752km is my longest day so far this trip. Sunshine Coast to Port Macquarie in NSW – charged twice at Superchargers costing $70. Driving time 8 hours 53 minutes, charging time 1 hour 12 mins.
Heading North — Geelong Victoria to Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory. Distance 738 km, charged at 3 Superchargers at a cost of $60. Driving time 7 hours and 21 minutes. Charging time 1 hour and 26 minutes.
At the NRMA charger (Chargefox) behind Gloria Jeans Coffee in Coffs Harbour, one charger was displaying the message on its screen: “port D unavailable pending parts being replaced which are currently expected end of January 23.” With only one charger available, this caused some congestion.
In regional Victoria: Gundagai, Wodonga, and Euroa Superchargers all in high demand today.
While driving on the M1 in Tasmania, his Tesla received an update which affected the car’s phantom braking. He tells me that this resulted in a “low wife acceptance factor.” It appears that his wife, like mine, gets very annoyed when the Tesla brakes for no reason (aka phantom braking).
A note in his blog describes some charging issues in Tasmania: “I had failures at Campbell Town and Kempton fast chargers today. Campbell Town hosts one of the original fast charging sites in Tassie. It is an old Evie charger and it would not activate. The site has 2 stations, and apparently one has been out of action for a long time. Today, the other one wouldn’t work either. Kempton’s charger at the Mood Food servo required an app, that I can only describe as bizarre. I just couldn’t get it to work.
“At Oatlands Mark got to use a new facility which worked like a charm. It is equipped with Finnish chargers built by Kempower. Their motto is ‘Powering Planet Cool.’ Welcome to Australia Kempower — looking forward to seeing more of these chargers around.”
Mark’s time in Launceston and Hobart was relatively uneventful, with destination charging at Launceston and AirBNB trickle charging in Hobart working well. There were a few Teslas on the ferry from Tassie back to Victoria and the drivers swapped stories of their adventures. As soon as they were off the ferry, it was leapfrogging up the highway to be first at the Superchargers!
It seems like quite the adventure, Mark. However, it appears that with all the new fast chargers going in, soon the only difficulty on a long EV road trip will be choosing the coffee! And educating fellow EV drivers about the correct use of charging spots!