‘Electric’ Big Lap dream moves a giant step closer

Published: July 1, 2021

The dream of the fuel-free Big Lap is moving a huge step closer with the news that Outback Queensland set to join the electric super highway.

New charging stations will be installed in 18 regional towns under stage three of the Queensland Electric Super Highway (QESH) project. They are: Cloncurry, Mount Isa, Julia Creek, Hughenden, Charters Towers, Winton, Barcaldine. Longreach, Emerald, Dingo, Blackall, Kingaroy, Charleville, Roma, Miles, Esk, Goondiwindi, and Stanthrope.

The chargers are strategically placed 180 to 200km apart to ensure EVs have enough charge to travel between stations.

The highway already has 31 stations stretching from Cairns to Coolangatta and west to Toowoomba, and is set to almost double to 3,800 kilometres.

Carly Irving is the executive general manager of Yurika, part of Energy Queensland, which is constructing the QESH. She told the ABC it was a chicken and egg situation.

“If you need the infrastructure for people to be able to travel, they cannot travel if there is no infrastructure,” she said. “We really want people to visit the sites and the communities … we want to be ahead of the game, so that when people start to take up electric vehicles (EV) more readily, the infrastructure is already there.”

But the fact is that Australia still has some of the lowest rates of electric car ownership in developed countries, with only  seven EVs sold per 10,000 vehicles in Queensland last year.

Car manufacturers have blamed a lack of federal government incentives for the slow uptake, while other advocates have lamented EVs being caught in the ‘culture wars’.

The owner of Toowoomba’s Drayton Medical Centre, Anupam Kumar, was an early adopter of electric vehicles (EV). He told the ABC the expansion of charging stations would entice him further afield.

“I would take my car as far as it can go,” Dr Kumar said. “I love camping and I tow my camper with my Tesla, so if there were more charging stations, I would go to more western and rural parts of Australia to camp and enjoy.”

On the other side of the debate are people like the State Member for Traeger, Robbie Katter, who told the ABC the decision to spend millions on charging stations in rural Queensland was bizarre.

“Let’s put it this way – I have never seen a Tesla in Cloncurry,” Mr Katter said. “If only they applied that same thinking to dams, strategic roads and rail infrastructure, that would enable us to build a more prosperous future.”

  • Would you consider buying an electric vehicle if there were more charging stations throughout the Outback?
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Shane Collins
1 year ago

It is going to be the future. By 2030, most vehicle manufacturers will be EV only. That’s only 9 years away. Here in Ballarat, there are two charging stations already, one Tesla, one RACV.
As the article says….infastructure needs to be in place.
I would like to know how far a EV will tow a caravan?

1 year ago
Reply to  Shane Collins

Many people writing about EV take up predictions in Australia purposely hide the fact that that large proportion of these predicted EVs will be hybrids which are more sensible for Australians who regularly drive beyond the cities.

Peter Luobikis
1 year ago
Reply to  Noel

Spot on Noel. We considered an EV for my wife but the range of max 300km before needing to charge stopped us. That and the hefty price tag and charging areas restrictive.
The vehicle also not 100% lithium so what happens to the waste of these heavy AGM batteries….nothing green about that.

When Lithium truly takes hold it will be a much better option. It was wonderful putting a super lightweight lithium into our van. The weight of the old AGM incredible, quite an effort to remove it where Jayco installed it.

1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Luobikis

Noel, there is a huge negative to EV take up in the 2.5c/km road tax that is being applied by the states to compensate for the loss of the tax component in the diesel and petrol. This in many cases will be a higher rate of tax than fuel efficient internal combustion vehicles. There is no incentive to buy EV in this country.

By the way the Lead acid battery is one of the most recyclable products around at 97% of the elements that make up a battery are reused – not so with Lithium.

Kelvin Smyth
1 year ago
Reply to  Shane Collins

General rule of thumb is using 70% more towing a caravan. So if you can get 200 klm not towing then the range reduces to 60 klm roughly. Unless of course you add an extra lot of batteries. More weight.

Maurie Young
1 year ago
Reply to  Shane Collins

Who is expected to pay for the generation of that power?

Linda Johnston
1 year ago
Reply to  Maurie Young

The charging won’t be free; like other fuels the driver will pay, but the cost to “fill the tank” will be a fraction of the cost of diesel or petrol, around 10%.

1 year ago

When they bring out a car with the ability to go off road, towing a van and using solar to keep the battery happy, I may look into it. Otherwise not.

Glenn Mc Gowan (Maca)
1 year ago
Reply to  Greg

How about a Landcruiser. Not as far away as you think…. and I quote Toyota ….
In 2017, Japan’s biggest car brand confirmed that every model in its range will be packing a hybrid powertrain option by 2025, and now Japanese website Best Car reports the new Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series will offer a 3.5-litre petrol V6 paired with an electric motor.

Colin John cooper
1 year ago
Reply to  Greg

Then I don’t believe you’ll be going far in your caravan. Who knows what the future will bring? We’re all going to see lots of compromise or the planet severely suffer.

1 year ago

Robbie Katter is 100% correct in this article.

Lewis Kelly
1 year ago

Can’t you just see the Simpson Desert crossing with a charging station every 150 k and a queue of 20 cars at each one waiting to get a recharge.

Linda Johnston
1 year ago
Reply to  Lewis Kelly

Unlikely. as solar power collection becomes more efficient, it may be possible to keep the batteries charged by solar panels on the roof.

1 year ago

I will be carrying my own “power supply”, my trusty Honda Generator. A nice combination of the old and the new 🙂

Pat from the Top End.
1 year ago

Good luck charging a EV with a portable generator…need a 44 drum of unleaded..!

1 year ago

You did notice the “smiley face”

1 year ago

Fuel free – Does this suggest that you can pull into a recharge station and recharge cost free. If so who is paying for the electricity. Also what about all the pollution caused in the manufacture of these vehicles and in the generation of electricity, particularly when current supply does not meet existing needs. Need more power generation to meet the new demand.

Squeak New
1 year ago
Reply to  Rowland

Dowland correct currently they are all battery powered vehicles recharged by coal fired power stations

Linda Johnston
1 year ago
Reply to  Squeak New

not all power sources are coal fired power stations. There is plenty of solar and wind power in the mix now, and that %age will only increase.

1 year ago

All those anti EV comments
Enjoy your gas guzzlers while you can as manufacturing of all fossil fuel vehicles are coming to a end soon

1 year ago
Reply to  Chris

And some even say the world is coming to an end :):)
Until then, I am happy with my “gas guzzlers. i.e Cruiser and generator.

1 year ago

Hi” I find it rather amusing that some people think it’s a good idea to go for electric cars, the costs of electricity will sky rocket as bigger capacity power stations and the infrastructure required to power a street full of cars on charge will need to be built. There is Nothing eco friendly about electric cars, The pollution is out of sight for now, Just like plastic was, now it’s a real problem when the seas throw it back at us.​

1 year ago

All the Unit block owners in our building have installed 3 phase to our garages in 2017 ready for EV. None of us have an EV yet. Probably by the time the politics is taken out of it, our garages will have super charging station for our wheelchairs!

Denis Pilkington
1 year ago

A friend drove from Canberra to Moruya (about 200 miles mostly downhill) in a Tesla 3 to stay with us for 2 days. Used 40% of battery & asked if she could ‘plug in’. The screen on the car showed 17 hours to full charge charging on normal household 240v power. Charged 13 hours bought the batteries up to to 90% the electricity cost $10.
This of course does not take into account the degradation depreciation of the batteries and the car & with a maximum battery life span of 10 years and a reported replacement cost of $45,000 seems to go against the claims of cheap travel, I would not to try & sell a second had electric car I imagine the depreciation would render a 7yo car worthless.
Government road taxes impose almost 50% of our fuel prices & already governments are looking at a cost per kilometre recoupment charge for EV’s and that could be charged at both state & federal levels.
So far the supply has been sponsored by NRMA members & the poor old taxpayer, but as the number of EV’s grow this will have to cease.
If something won’t stand on it’s own 2 feet its not worthwhile & I can’t see servo’s trying to make buck out of the massive cost of providing outlets that will be tied up for 1/2 hour per customer.
My wife & I have a 25ft Winnie, a small 1990’s sedan & a nice old farm ute, we have a small pension, the thought of EV replacement is preposterous & would be for average families. I’m not saying EV’s are not wonderful machines, but do the maths.

Neil Death
1 year ago

Who is going to pay for our road infrastructure, EV owners do not pay petrol tax or anything. Time to hit them also for infrastructure. Agree how many of these people are going to go outback.

Linda Johnston
1 year ago
Reply to  Neil Death

you think the petrol excise goes towards road infrastructure?

Brian Barrett
1 year ago
Reply to  Linda Johnston

It goes into consolidated revenue, then disappears into a black hole.

sandra gillett
1 year ago

I just completed a quick 4000k around NSW and noted quite a few stations if that’s the right word, for charging up cars. All of them being used and some with a few waiting. These were in some large but also some small country towns. There electronic cars are becoming very popular.

Pat from the Top End.
1 year ago

Gas guzzlers…??
And how will the huge aeroplanes and military helicopters fly…with batteries…??

Jeffrey Fishlock
1 year ago

We aren’t likely to see the end of ICE powered vehicles in our lifetime and more than likely our children’s lifetime, Although there is much hype about EV the reality is that the cost is prohibitive for the average family. Sure retirees living in a village with just trips to family and around town could buy one, but you don’t want to be like a Canberrian found out last year.
He purchased a Nissan Leaf purchased for $50,000 new about four years ago. Experienced a ever decreasing range over that time went into Nissan for advice, that advice was a quotation of $38,000 for a replacement battery including labour. So basically he has a disposable car, Nissan said, the Nissan Leaf is a disposable vehicle that can be recycled at end of life 5 years.

EV ‘s towing would need to be designed & built to tow large loads, which they are not at this time. I mean a Tesla model X can tow 2268 Kgs is that a heavy load and it’s only $176,918 plus on roads.

Possibly a Hybrid to tow the caravan Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid they tow 3500kgs it’s only $151,600 plus on roads. But I wouldn’t want to break down out of a Capital City or pay the Service costs on a Porsche.
On Hybrid cars engine doesn’t drive the Hybrid vehicle either, it only provide power to the electric motor via a generator and recharges the battery, Toyota has the Kluger Hybrid towing (2000kgs) towing spec’s on their site.

We’re all going to have to just keep our ICE powered vehicles if we want to travel great distances with our caravan in tow, unless you want a Porsche.

As far as saving the World from Climate Change which was Global warming but we’re getting colder, if you get the chance to ask a Climate Change activist/ Scientist/ Politician how much money do they need to Stop it or how can it be stopped, truthfully they don’t know how. Their willing to take your money and tell you the world’s going to end and we wonder why youth suicide is up.

1 year ago

Well said.
And we think used tyres are a problem.
Just wait for all those used batteries!

1 year ago
Reply to  Greg.

Spot on Greg,
Keep My diesel patrol long as possible.
E.V could be a big can of worms .
Lots of problems down the road,cheers bill

1 year ago

Amazing is the word for it. So many people winge & carry on about the dangers of power lines, microwaves, 5G etc & yet are eager to buy an electric vehicle & sit pretty well right on top of a substantial electric motor that pushes out an equally substantial field. Besides they are dangerous because they make no noise!!! One can hear a “normal” car when it’s approaching you at the time you wish to cross a road or are waiting behind a row of cars to cross & one backs out with no noise or warning. That has happened to me several times & I have had to whack the boot to stop them. Most of them hybrids so wait ’till they are full electric & they are sneaking up on you from all directions & imagine the fields in the city when you are accosted by hundreds of electric cars set to fry you

Bruce Gennette
1 year ago

Anyone know which car manufacturers are looking into getting a ‘tow tug’ type of electric vehicle some assistance from an extra set of batteries installed in a trailer or caravan? The idea is that the tug only has batteries sized to move it around economically when it is ‘going alone’, and when it needs to pull a bigger load the *EXACT* sized extra battery power is supplied from the load’s own on-board batteries.
Kind of like adding an extra locomotive for heavier trains. Brakes on the trailer could also be regenerative into its own or the tug’s battery. I know that some truck companies are looking into hydrogen fuel cell/battery traction, but are any looking into add-on batteries in the extra load?

1 year ago

EV replacing fossil fuel transport? Ignore the environmental EV production and disposal challenges, look at the charging station requirements and you will quickly realise that the entire power distribution system nationwide will need to be rebuilt to support any significant migration.

Consider 100 houses in a suburb needing 25 amp @ 240 volt (minimum) to charge all these batteries for 10hrs each day whilst still maintaining current loads!

Niche move to EV yes, but significant migration in the next15 years – unlikely in the real world.

Donald Grant
1 year ago

Five minutes to refuel your petrol or diesel, twenty five minutes to charge your EV. imagine the line up at EV charging stations.

Donald Grant
1 year ago

Most power generating power stations are coal powered for a reason, Wind & solar power not always available & not a reliable source of power.

Hannu Aho
4 months ago

We have a 38′ RV and tow a 4WD behind. I think some people are dreaming. How can this work for our situation???????


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