Tesla’s EV charging change sparks big ‘problem’ for travelling Aussies

A change to Tesla chargers could cause lengthy queues during peak holiday periods.

Teslas at a charging station (left) and an MG charging at a Tesla charger (right).
An MG driver recently shared his excitement at being able to use a Tesla charger for the first time. Source: Getty/Facebook

As Australia’s electric vehicle uptake continues to grow, more Tesla supercharging stations are available for use by cars made by rival manufacturers, which an expert says could lead to longer queues during holiday periods. However, many EV drivers say that range anxiety has long been the biggest concern for drivers considering the switch to electric so if more chargers are available to more vehicles, that can only be a good thing.

Drivers of cars from other brands were once unable to use any Tesla chargers but now by connecting to the Tesla app, EV drivers can connect to V4 chargers, which are known for their high quality and speed, adding 282km of range in just 15 minutes, and are scattered around most Australian states.

While there are an estimated 180,000 EVs on Aussie roads including 100,000 Teslas, the country has around 2000 public charging sites, 400 individual Tesla stalls, 500 Tesla destination chargers and almost 90 superchargers, around half of which can now be used by all EV drivers.

“Trying the Tesla V4 chargers at Blaxland (NSW) with our MG ZS EV 2023 LR. Very handy to know that they work if we ever get stuck," one motorist recently remarked.

However, EV technician Gerry Marson, owner of Sydney Hybrid and Electric Cars, said while most Tesla owners charged up at home, opening up superchargers to other EVs could see longer wait times during busy holiday seasons.

“The potential is there, probably for a bit of a problem with a line-up of people using them during peak seasons of travel,” he told Yahoo News Australia. “Particularly if you are travelling from Sydney to Brisbane or Sydney to Melbourne.

An electric vehicle charging station (left) and a Tesla charger in rural Australia (right).
An electric vehicle charging station and a Tesla EV charger in rural Australia. Source: Getty

“Tesla’s own navigation unit will plot the destination route for you and show you where they are, the app will tell you whether the charger is available or not."

He said Tesla was the “gold standard” in the EV industry and the only car manufacturer to create its own network of charging stations, while rivals relied on the publicly built system.

Tesla driver JJ, who recently undertook a 60-hour road trip from his home in Melbourne to Magnetic Island in Queensland, spanning 3000 km, with his friend Siouxsie, said he saw “one or two” non-Tesla drivers using superchargers on his lengthy interstate journey.

While he didn’t see any immediate problems with other EV drivers using superchargers, it could “absolutely” impact Tesla owners in the long term.

“It’s been fine,” JJ told Yahoo News. “It will make money for the company which will then allow them to build more chargers. The majority of people charge at home, which I couldn’t do because I lived in an apartment block.”

JJ said Magnetic Island, a popular tourist destination, didn’t have any EV chargers so he charged his own Tesla overnight from a regular electric socket which added 200km to his charge, but all EV drivers wanted “everything to be cleaner and more sustainable”.

JJ and his friend Siouxsie (right) sit in front of his Tesla.
JJ and his friend Siouxsie shared the driving on their mammoth trip from Melbourne to Queensland's Magnetic Island in his Tesla. Source: Supplied

“What we are not ok with — which is the worst problem we have — is cars that are not electric, parking in charging station spots. Sometimes they don’t know it’s a charging station and they think: ‘Why should you have your own space?’ It’s happened to me once or twice when doing a big drive, but I’ve seen it happen to other guys quite often.”

JJ said Tesla chargers were very reliable and he’d never seen one not working, unlike the public chargers — which Teslas can also use.

Fellow electric car driver Jacinta Green, who drives an MG Essence, said she’d used superchargers a few times, but generally avoided them on long trips as at 85c per kilowatt for EV drivers without a Tesla subscription, they were more expensive than 60c NRMA chargers or the 35c it costs her to home charge.

However, she added that if charging her car from a zero to 100 per cent — which would “never happen as no EV user would let their battery get so low" — it would cost $30 for 50 killowatts at an NRMA charger, compared to $42.50 at a Tesla. But either way those costs were still a fraction of the price of filling up with petrol, she pointed out.

“I use the Tesla chargers if I’m in a hurry,” she told Yahoo News. “In the early days, there sometimes used to be a little bit of ‘friction’ when Teslas were using the NRMA chargers, but that was before we could use the Tesla chargers."

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