Tesla owner debunks common EV myth with single picture

Robert ordered his first Tesla car a decade ago. Since then, things have seriously changed on Australian roads.

Robert's Tesla Model Y pictured charging at Tennant Creek Tourist Park.
Plugged into an AEVA 3 phase outlet at the Tennant Creek Tourist Park. Source: Supplied

Very few people in Australia have as much experience with electric cars than West Australian man Robert and his wife Robin. And there's scarcely a remote Aussie road or corner of the country they haven't touched with one of their Teslas.

In fact, with one simple map of their travels the couple is able to dispel a common EV myth that is frequently cited as a reason for holding back the transition to battery-powered transport.

After ordering their first Tesla a decade ago, the couple, who live south of Perth, have road-tripped around the entire country. From the northern reaches of WA, to remote north Queensland and down to the "EV paradise" of Tasmania, they are proof that the only thing holding back EVs is a fear of the unknown.

However Robert says while charging options have "improving vastly" in regional and remote areas since the couple were among the earliest adopters, there is a key thing to remember when making the switch and hitting the open road.

Robert's Tesla pictured charging in the Kimberley, WA.
Charging at a Horizon Power 150kw DC unit at Warmun in the Kimberley, WA. Source: Supplied
Making use of a caravan socket at Arkaroola Wilderness Retreat in South Australia.
Making use of a caravan socket at Arkaroola Wilderness Retreat in South Australia. "Handy for overnight charging". Source: Supplied

The couple ordered their first Tesla Model S in 2014 with it turning up the following year. "In the early days there was no sales presence in WA," Robert told Yahoo News Australia. "We bought it on an iPad and just trusted Tesla to send us a car".

"It's been an epic car," he said. And it's gone on some epic road trips too. The couple have since bought a Tesla Model Y and last month spent 21 days driving around the entire WA coast, down through the Northern Territory and along the southern border.

"That was 11,000 kilometres in 21 days," Robert said.

It's just the latest in a number of road trips – 33 the be exact – over the years in their Teslas, and just the fourth biggest one they've done to date.

While EVs are often perceived as "city cars", the couple are out to dispel that myth. To that end, they've shared their road trip journeys online as a way to "encourage" others.

"There are a lot of people who are really scared to go on a road trip in their electric car," Robert said. "It's been nailed into their heads that you can't take your electric car outside the city – and that's not true.

"We've done the full around Australia trip in 2019."

Topping up at a RAA 150kw DC at Leigh Creek in South Australia.
Topping up at a RAA 150kw DC at Leigh Creek in South Australia. "Probably the best planned charger in SA with forward, reverse and sideways parking," Robert says. Source: Supplied
A map showing every location, across Australia, the couple have driven their Teslas.
The couple has taken their Teslas on just about every major road in the country. Source: Supplied

While most owners charge at home where possible, a patchwork of chargers from state governments, the NRMA, Tesla and other companies continue to crop up around the country.

"We charge at home as much as we can using solar power as that's the cheapest way to charge. But in country areas it is improving vastly," he said. "It has improved for sure... But there are some areas that need work."

He believes reliability across the different chargers needs to be improved as Australia heads towards mass adoption.

"The Tesla chargers are very reliable but the non-Tesla chargers are not so reliable – and that has to improve rapidly," Robert said.

"Petrol bowsers are reliable because there is competition between petrol companies... if the bowser didn't work you would just go to the competition – and that's what we need in the charging infrastructure in Australia, we need competition." For him, that's the missing ingredient. "And then reliability will be at 100 per cent then."

While Tesla is very attentive to its charging bays, according to Robert, other charging infrastructure sometimes isn't maintained or serviced as regularly and there can be delays when something needs fixing.

"If a Tesla charger faults, it gets repaired very quickly," he said. "Some of the generic charging it's like; 'Yeh when we get someone out there we'll look at it' ... and that's just not acceptable."

A Horizon DC charger at the Sandfire Roadhouse 300kms south of Broome that will be switched on once the solar panels are installed by mid July. Source: Supplied
A Horizon DC charger at the Sandfire Roadhouse 300kms south of Broome that will be switched on once the solar panels are installed by mid July. Source: Supplied

Across Australia, there are roughly 2,500 charging stations while there are approximately 6,500 petrol stations. So it's no surprise charging concerns are the second most cited reason for not buying an EV, behind initial cost.

While Australia has moved towards a charging standard, and new Tesla super chargers are compatible with other models, for example, there is still plenty more to do Down Under to catch up to our global peers when it comes to the EV rollout, advocates argue.

According to Dominique van den Berg, the chief executive of lobby group Energy Networks Australia, there is about one charging station for every 10 electric cars overseas. But in Australia that figure is about one in 35, she told the Australian Financial Review this week.

A Tesla model Y pictured driving on a dusty road in remote Western Australia.
Remote road trips in electric cars do require a bit more foresight and planning. Source: Supplied

For Tesla owners like Robert, when travelling in more far-flung areas, where Tesla equipment might not be readily available, you need to understand what all your options are to recharge your car.

"When you do road trips, you have to plan ahead. That's very important," he told Yahoo.

"You check the plug share and you check ahead before you go to a charger to make sure it's working. And if it's not, you've gotta have a plan B."

Yahoo recently spoke with a young Tesla owner who revealed the true cost of a 3,000km road trip from Melbourne to Magnetic Island in Queensland, saying it cost a total of $321.44 to charge his car for the entire road trip — about $10.25 per 100km. In comparison, with a national average petrol price of about $2 per litre, a passenger car that consumes 8 litres per 100km would cost $16.08 per 100km.

"I was using the most expensive chargers, the Tesla Superchargers, the whole way up,” he told Yahoo, adding it could easily cost even less for other electric car owners who have more time on their hands to look for moderate-speed or free charging stations."

As for Robert, he says he and his wife don't pay too much mind to the cost of charging but "it is definitely cheaper than diesel and petrol". "If you’re a tourist out in these remote places of Australia you should be spending money," he said.

And he hopes to see more EV owners doing just that.

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