SW drivers can go electric

Kate Emery

Electric car charging stations will be installed in the South West from next month as part of an Australian first intended to open the State to a new generation of motorists.

The 11 planned stations will allow electric vehicle owners to drive from Perth to Augusta for the first time without overnight stops.

It is believed to be the first of its kind in Australia.

Balcatta company E-Station will supply the fast-charging DC stations, which can charge an electric car in about 30 minutes, compared with seven or eight hours using a conventional power outlet.

The RAC, which is behind the plan for the so-called electric highway, will pay to acquire and install the stations.

South West councils will cover operating and maintenance costs. It will be up to councils if they charge users for the stations or absorb the cost.

Stations are expected to be installed in Fremantle, Mandurah, Bunbury, Harvey, Busselton, Donnybrook, Nannup, Dunsborough, Bridgetown, Margaret River and Augusta.

The cities of Bunbury, Busselton and the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River have already signed contracts with the RAC. Talks with the others are understood to be advanced.

There were 137 licensed electric cars and 18 motorcycles on WA roads in 2013-14, according to the Department of Transport. That does not include hybrid cars.

Shire of Harvey president Tania Jackson said the shire was optimistic the highway could bring in more tourists.

"We see lots of benefits," she said.

RAC general manager corporate affairs Will Golsby likened the member-based organisation's support for the highway to its formation in 1905 at a time when cars were in the minority.

"We see the RAC electric highway as a positive and real contribution towards the growth of alternative vehicle technology," he said.

"The RAC electric highway will benefit the South West region by attracting electric vehicle drivers to destinations along the route."

E-Station director Patrick Finnegan said the highway would eliminate range issues for electric car drivers and be good for the environment.

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