F.or David Ritchie, installing three electric car chargers for customers in his winery was a breeze. With a powerful solar array and storage battery to go online soon, visitors to Delatite Wines will soon be able to drive their electric vehicles to the idyllic spot in regional Victoria and safely enjoy their rehearsal tour, knowing that their car will be charged for free, clean energy for the return journey.
Ritchie is among a growing number of business people driving a wave of ecotourism based on the availability of electric vehicle chargers. Rather than waiting long for the coalition government to join the green energy revolution, hotels, motels, Airbnb hosts and other hotel operators like Ritchie are stepping up a micro-EV charging system for Australia.
For the relatively low cost of a few thousand dollars, Ritchie hopes the chargers will put his Mansfield winery on maps and apps like Plugshare that EV drivers use to navigate the country.
“We had Tesla chargers, but not that many people drive Tesla because they are expensive. So we decided to add chargers that can be used by all types of cars, ”says Ritchie, who produces around 12,000 bottles of red, white and white sparkling wine a year.
“It’s a great service for people as there’s no charger for miles and it’s a way to draw people into the winery. It also costs next to nothing and we will be giving it for free. For me it’s a piece of cake. “
The chargers that Ritchie and companies like him install are AC or AC chargers that typically take a few hours to charge vehicles. There are now nearly 2,000 of them across Australia. Along with 350+ of the much faster public DC or DC chargers, they serve the country’s 20,000+ electric vehicles, nearly half of which were added in the EU in the last 12 months.
Although quick chargers can turn on a battery in minutes, they are much more expensive to install – about $ 30,000 versus $ 2,000 for the AC devices. The latter is therefore perfect for a microeconomic model.
We have many examples of hotels installing chargers and instantly receiving calls from drivers trying to check in. Russell Shepherd
Russ Shepherd is the founder of EVolution, a Melbourne-based company that supplies and installs chargers. The company has a fast charging station in Oakley but is more of a promotional tool than a money maker. Therefore, installing AC chargers in homes and businesses is the easiest commercial proposition.
“We are very interested in it at the moment,” he says. “The return on investment for public chargers is quite low, especially when places like shopping malls offer free electricity.”
It is a challenge for corporate investors to justify the cost of land and installing a network of DC chargers, especially since the payment mechanisms in chargers are expensive additional costs. So it makes more sense to do them for free or with an honesty box.
“Drivers will go with chargers to a specific place where there aren’t any chargers,” says Shepherd. “We have many examples where hotels put chargers and they get instant calls from drivers trying to check in. We have found this to be a relatively easy sale and a very cost-effective boost for local businesses and communities.”
But not only small businesses can benefit from this. According to Shepherd, EV owners are quick to change their behavior based on where they can get a charge.
For example, they have evidence from market research and customer feedback that a charger-equipped Westfield in Woden is preferred by EV drivers in the ACT over another nearby Westfield in Belconnen. The other evidence is that the Belconnen center contacted EVolution to install chargers so their customers can shop, eat, or watch a movie while their car is being charged.
Cameron Craig, manager of digital marketing at Sydney-based charging company EVSE, noted the same pattern, suggesting that while Chargefox and NRMA’s rollout of fast charging networks is very welcome, the future may be closer to home.
“Shopping centers get charging stations, but they don’t necessarily want to make money. They want to attract wealthier customers because they are more likely to be EV drivers, ”he says.
For an Airbnb-style network, where “plug hosts” could charge for top-ups, he thinks it is unlikely for economic reasons.
“It’s definitely possible to set up your own home system, but electricity isn’t cheap enough to make a lot of money from,” says Craig. “It’s not commercially viable, so you have to look at five to ten chargers and people won’t have that space. You will only see this scale through community developments and apartment blocks. “
Rob Nicholls, associate professor at the University of New South Wales Business School, says Australia is ripe for the microstore revolution. Although the country has one of the lowest electric vehicle consumption rates in developed countries and the industry lacks the kind of generous subsidies that are offered overseas, such as in the UK or Germany, Australian households have the highest percentage of solar energy in the world.
It is then natural to switch from solar energy to a battery and then find a use for that electricity.
“What’s the next?” Asks Nicholls. “It’s about getting a battery to stabilize the solar and cut costs,” which in turn could mean people buying an electric vehicle to take that energy.
Domestic storage batteries can cost up to $ 10,000, and while new electric vehicles are still relatively expensive, you can buy used electric vehicles for $ 20,000, according to Shepherd.
Back in Mansfield, Delatite Wines’ Ritchie is looking forward to bringing his new solar network up and running in mid-May. He hopes there will soon be a flurry of electric vehicles while their owners enjoy a renovated kitchen and basement door that are also powered by solar energy. He also hopes the farm’s vehicles will soon be solar powered.
“We have two electrically powered ATVs [all-terrain vehicles] right now, ”he says. “But as soon as we can get an electric tractor, we’ll get one. And as soon as I can get an electric ute, I’ll get one and get rid of my diesels. With the customer chargers, everything fits in with our brand and philosophy. “