The electric vehicle evolution may still be a little while away, but the first steps towards an Australia-wide high-speed charging network have taken place.
In a ceremony in Victoria last week, the ribbon was cut on the first of 21 high-power electric charging bays that will populate the east coast of Australia.
It’s the work of new start-up ChargeFox, which is part of the worldwide JetCharge group. The initial group of stations – all powered by renewable electricity – will be funded with a $15 million capital raising via Australia’s motoring clubs, transformer company Wilson, and Carsales founder Greg Roebuck.
Grants from the Victorian state government and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency were also accessed.
On hand at the ribbon-cutting ceremony were representatives from car companies with a stake in the EV game – with the notable exception of Tesla.
Audi, Hyundai, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz spokespeople lauded the world-first 350kW charging station technology, which can add 400km of range to an EV in as little as 15 minutes, as well as store power on-site from its solar array.
“These foundation partnerships with the world’s leading automobile manufacturers demonstrate Australia’s steadfast commitment to innovative, electric-focussed, sustainable solutions within the automobile industry,” said Marty Andrews, the CEO of Chargefox, at the event.
Audi also used the event to showcase an Audi e-tron prototype almost a year before the Australian launch of the production model. The e-tron has 150kW charing capability, and a claimed range of 400km.
“It’s dependent on fast-charging infrastructure like the Chargefox network, and so we are pleased to be one of the network’s founding partners,” said Audi Australia’s product planning director Shawn Ticehurst. “Its success will be critical to our customers’ enjoyment of the all-new Audi e-tron when it arrives in the second half of 2019.”
The stations will be able to be accessed via tap-and-pay tech, and can be used by all present and future EVs - including Teslas.
Tesla has invested in its own high-speed charging network that covers the commute between Sydney and Brisbane, but its chargers are electronically restricted to recognise and charge only Tesla vehicles.