Summer charging queues down despite rise in EV sales

Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson |

Experts say wait times at public charging stations are down despite a rise in EV sales.
Experts say wait times at public charging stations are down despite a rise in EV sales.

Dire predictions about lengthy waits at electric car charging stations have failed to materialise these summer holidays, experts say, even though the use of public chargers more than doubled across Australia. 

Representatives from two of the country’s biggest providers, Chargefox and Evie Networks, told AAP electric cars experienced their “biggest week ever” for public charging this holiday season, and use across the period soared by 150 per cent. 

But Electric Vehicle Council energy and infrastructure head Ross De Rango said the success should not lead businesses or governments to become complacent as battery-powered cars continued to grow in popularity. 

The news came after sales of electric cars more than doubled in Australia during 2023, and after some drivers suffered 90-minute charging delays during the 2023 summer holiday break.

Evie Networks chief executive Chris Mills said the company had doubled its number of charging sites from 100 to 200 to meet growing demand.

“There have been more and more charging stations deployed along major tourist routes,” he said. 

“What you’re seeing is more choice and, because there are more charging stations, there’s also better reliability.”

Other charging networks had also stepped up to meet demand on high-traffic holiday routes, Mr Mills said, citing more infrastructure between Canberra and Sydney from companies including BP, Ampol and Tesla, and around the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast in Queensland. 

An electric vehicle charging station
EV charging networks have stepped up to meet demand on high-traffic holiday routes. (Jason O’BRIEN/AAP PHOTOS)

There were still some queues to charge cars in less built-out areas, he said, such as Grafton in NSW, but wait times were nowhere near as long this year.

“The etiquette of charging is better now,” Mr Mills said. 

“People are much more thoughtful than they were last year about getting off the charging station when they hit 80 per cent.”

Chargefox marketing head Rob Asselman said charging on its platform soared by 150 per cent compared to 2023 but a greater number of chargers prevented long delays.

The rollout would need to continue in regional and rural areas to support holiday demand, he said, and both federal and state governments should get involved.

“The statistics show that EV ownership is growing faster than the EV-charging rollout, which would suggest there needs to be more chargers installed,” Mr Asselman said. 

“The government is going to need to play a role in some of these areas if they want true national coverage.”

Australians bought more than 87,000 new electric vehicles in 2023, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, representing an increase of 161 per cent.

Mr De Rango said he was pleased to see fewer “issues related to queuing at public EV chargers than the previous summer” despite warnings to the contrary, but the network would need to keep growing with demand.

“We cannot let improvement on this issue allow us to become complacent,” he said.

“The number of EVs on Australian roads has been doubling year on year for the last three years and there’s room for it to keep doubling for a couple more years yet.”

AAP