The Macademia Castle, a traditional refuge for weary souls travelling between Ballina and Byron Bay for 40 years, is now looking at a possible change of character. It could soon become a hot spot for a completely different purpose – that of a supercharger car port for electric cars.
“At one end of the car port are two charging stations for electric cars, almost like petrol bowsers,” says Tony Gilding, owner of the resort.
“They’ve been installed to make people feel more confident about driving longer distances in electric cars. We’re probably five or 10 years ahead of the game, but I see this as the way of the future,” he explains.
Tesla’s East coast supercharger stations
Australia is on the cusp of a big transformation. Large infrastructure projects in solar technology are scheduled to begin in 2015. Tesla Motors, the American company known for its sports-like electric cars announced plans of launching 16 high-powered charging stations between Brisbane and Melbourne by 2016.
Ten of these supercharger stations are scheduled to be completed in 2015. These stations will enable a Tesla car owner to travel between Melbourne and Brisbane without spending anything for electricity.
They only need to plug their vehicle into a supercharger and wait for about 20 minutes. This will allow them to travel a maximum of 250 kilometers – depending on the Tesla car model they are driving. One full charge takes around one hour.
There have been speculations about what source of energy will power these supercharger stations, as the company have previously integrated clean energy technology into their design with the Californian solar powered supercharger stations.
The auto manufacturer has been revolutionising the electric car industry in the US, and is now targeting the Australian market with a supercharger network that will be composed of more than 140 stations.
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BMW is also testing the local car market to see if they can also introduce their own brands of electric vehicles.
Although the new global electric vehicle market exceeded 1.1 million units, in Australia, there were only 1,015 electric cars sold in the country in 2014.
In Australia, Tesla is taking a different approach. They are using a “build it and they will come” attitude. Tesla feels that it will soon be able to arrive at the right formula and model mix that will help this new technology to hold ground.
Tesla spokesman Heath Walker is gung-ho with Tesla’s entry into the Australian market.
“It is real and it’s here,” says Walker.
Walker said that the biggest challenges to the adoption of electric cars are range anxiety and high purchase prices, in addition to infrastructure – that is – until now.
“Charging at home has been another perceived barrier, but now we provide a unit that provides 40 amps of power and hooks up to the house,” he explains. “You can charge overnight and have up to 500km of range the next morning,” adds Walker.
Tony Gilding is happy with what Tesla Motors is doing in Australia. He considers Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder and CEO as “a hero.” He also believes that providing more incentives to own an electric car, such as free charging through supercharger stations, would increase its demand.
Photo courtesy of Steve Jurvetson via Flickr