Public charging myths (busted!)

Rob Asselman
July 8, 2024
 min read
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Questions about EVs? We know you’ve got them. In the first of a series of articles plugging you into the latest intel about charging, batteries, costs, fleets and more, we take a look at five commonly held misconceptions about public charging.

It’s hard to find a public charger
The reality is that you're never far from a charger and there are dozens added every month.

In fact, it’s getting easier all the time – thanks to some serious investment in charging infrastructure, and improved technology to help drivers find chargers and plan journeys.

When it comes to availability, the numbers don’t lie. It’s estimated that more than 6000 EV charging stations can now be found in more than 2000 locations across Australia. Of these, 1676 are Chargefox charging stations (as of April 2024). 

In 2024, market leader Chargefox expects to add about 1270 public charging stations to its platform (and of course, many charging stations house multiple bays or plugs). 

If you aren’t sure of where to charge or want to plan a journey, you can get a real-time snapshot of the network, nearby charging stations and the status of individual chargers by opening our app on your phone and looking at the map. You can download the app for Apple here and Android here.

Speaking of the app, Chargefox’s new Roaming initiative means ever greater and easier access to chargers across Australia. It has enabled us to integrate charging infrastructure owned by operators such as the NRMA seamlessly into the Chargefox platform – so you can use one app (ours!) to access evenmore chargers.

Too many plugs are out of order or being used

Remember, the Chargefox app gives you real-time information about where to find an available plug and with our partners, we’re doing things to maximise the likelihood you’ll find an available charger the first time.

Heard the one about the driver who plugged into a public charger and then went hot-air ballooning, stopping other drivers from charging for hours? Yes, that happened. So in 2023, we introduced the option for charger owners to activate idle fees, an incentive for drivers to disconnect and move their car as soon as it’s fully charged.

Chargefox installed some of the first fast DC public chargers in Australia.

Meanwhile, older, less reliable chargers between Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, (some of which some were installed by Chargefox and were amongst the first publicly available fast chargers in Australia) are being replaced with new, state-of-the-art equipment that will reliably serve drivers for many years to come.

For more on how we're tackling queues for charging check out our recent article.

EVs take too long to charge

Does charging an EV from empty to full take longer than filling a car with petrol? Yep.

BUT this is only part of the story.

More than 95 per cent of EV charging is done at home. You come home, plug in your car and let it charge overnight, just like you do with your mobile phone. By the time you finish your cornflakes in the morning your car is topped up, even when charging from a standard powerpoint! You’ve now got 400-600 kilometres of range and it’s cost you less than a takeaway coffee.

When you do need to charge in public, there are thousands of locations to choose from. These come in AC and DC.

Huh? Slow down … AC/DC?

DC chargers

These range in speed from about 50-350 kilowatts and can charge your car in as little as 20 minutes. The fastest of these are most often located on major intercity highways where people are looking to charge and get on their way as soon as possible. So you pack up the car for your road trip, drive for 400+ kilometres, stop for 20-30 minutes to charge, stretch your legs, get a bite to eat and get on your way… easy.

AC chargers

These are cheap and sometimes even free to use. You can top up while doing the shopping, catching a movie or while you’re working. They do take longer than filling up with petrol, but the magic happens while you’re getting through that to-do list.

So yeah, it’s true that you can stop at a petrol station and fill up a car with petrol faster than charging an EV. The real question is, why would you want to?

Public charging is expensive

Not compared with petrol – and in many cases public charging is free. While pricing varies depending on the charging location and charger speed, the slower AC chargers are generally free or low-cost at about 30c per kW; fast DC chargers are about 40-60c per kWh on average. The Electric Vehicle Council (conservatively) estimates that fast charging an EV costs about 20 per cent less than the equivalent mileage in petrol, with greater savings for slower charging.

Let's do a quick comparison on fueling an efficient combustion engine vs a common EV.

The table below compares the cost of filling one of the most efficient hybrid combustion engine cars with charging an affordable EV. The charging figures are very conservative and don’t even take into account the fact that more than 95 per cent of charging is done at home where it is much,  much cheaper.

RAV4 Hybrid BYD Atto 3 Extended Range. Charging on a mix of home, slow (AC) and fast (DC) chargers Charging ONLY on fast charger at $0.50 per kWh
Fuel tank capacity (litres) 55 Battery capacity (kWh) 60 60
Cost for petrol per litre
(Source - as at 22/06/24)
$2.00 Avg cost for charging (per kWh)
$0.20 $0.50
Total cost to fill tank $110.00 Total cost to charge battery $12.00 $30.00
Avg kms per tank
1146 Kms per charge 480 480
Cost per km $0.10 Cost per km $0.03 $0.06

As you can see, even when charging using only the more expensive DC fast chargers the price is still 40 per cent cheaper. Keep in mind this is for a RAV4 hybrid - a highly efficient combustion engine vehicle. The figures for other, less efficient vehicles would provide an even more significant contrast.

But wait, there’s more. Our partnerships with leading EV manufacturers and finance providers means customers of these companies receive free charging with Chargefox, with subscriptions of 1, 3, 5 or more years. The equivalent in a petrol car would cost you thousands of dollars. 

You can’t drive far

Go ask any EV owner how often they experience "range anxiety". It's highly likely the answer will be somewhere between very, very rarely or never. Even the more affordable EVs have a range of 400+ kilometres to a charge. Think about how often in your life you have driven more than 400 kilometres without stopping. In the unlikely event you’re driving between Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, is stopping every 8 hours or so to charge for 20-30 minutes really a deal-breaker?

Improved battery capacity, car design and public charging infrastructure means range is just not an issue, and the growth in numbers of chargers available on Chargefox’s EV charging network also plays a significant part in reducing range anxiety.

Check out this testimony by one of our customers who took an EV on the infamous Perth to Exmouth Coral Coast Roadtrip, covering more than 3000km through remote regions of Western Australia. (Result: happy campers.)

For people facing long commutes, living in rural areas or planning a driving holiday, this is all reassuring: in fact we know from recent data compiled by the Electric Vehicle Council that nearly 20 per cent of EV sales are now coming from rural and regional Australia, with 43 per cent from outer suburban areas.

Are you an EV driver tired of hearing myths about electric vehicles? Or are you considering getting your first EV but have some uncertainties? Connect with us on our social media channels, and we'll help clear things up!

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