After travelling the Australian East coast towards Northern Queensland a few months ago, I recently did an about turn and made a 6,383 km return trip from Bribie Island in Queensland all the way down to and through Tasmania.
I now have driven the full distance of the Australian East Coast in our Tesla Model S85 battery EV, using renewable energy wherever possible.
Regretfully, we had to restrict the time staying in Tasmania to 10 days, due to limited space on Spirit of Tasmania ferry. That’s a shame because a period that short is not honouring the Tasmanian tourism potential, nor its near 100 per cent renewable energy electricity.
The two maps here show our major itinerary. On top of the roads highlighted in blue on the Google maps print-out, we went off-track to enjoy some family time in Canberra, and did some extra km in Tasmania to see: The Tarkine wilderness in the North East, The Huon Valley, driving back from Huonville to Hobart via the East Coast route, and a few Heritage villages between Hobart and Launceston.
What we have achieved with this trip stands in stark contrast with the experience of a motoring journalist back in June who “Electric car tour of Tasmania unplugged for want of power”. He went to Tasmania seemingly unprepared and not aware that there are third party EVSE charge controllers available that allow you to minimize the charging time using available 3 phase 5-pin sockets with currents up to 32 Amp.
Tasmania is ideally suited to electric cars and EV tourism as under normal climatic conditions the majority of its energy needs are generated as renewable hydro- and wind energy.
Tasmania just experienced the driest spring ever recorded and exceptionally has imported electric power from Victoria through the Basslink cable which regrettably became faulty just before the main holiday period. The event triggered the Tassie Government to instruct Hydro Tasmania to suspend the proposed sale of the Tamar Valley Power Station as a result: “Tasmania forced to be self-reliant on power after Basslink cable outage”
Notwithstanding the exceptional draught, the wind kept blowing and Tasmania’s West coast has a tremendous potential for wind energy projects. Just one wind farm such as the Musselroe Wind Farm with a generating capacity of 168 MW would be capable of powering +/- 20,000 BEV, or the equivalent of 6% from the current number of registered passenger vehicles in Tasmania.
As for small scale solar PV installations, the Clean Energy Regulator “Postcode data for small-scale installations” from Dec 2015 reveal a total installed capacity of close to 90MW but as claimed by the Tasmanian Renewable Energy Alliance Inc. expansion recently decreased due to changes in Government policy.
Consequently, I hope that my story may reach, inspire and motivate some Tasmanian political and business community visionaries to analyse the benefits of EV tourism and promote EV transport…
In this context it’s absolutely worthwhile to read the recent article by Jack & Paul Gilding in the Mercury: Talking Point: Billion dollar opportunity to go renewable.
Sure, I am aware there are some brilliant minds and visionaries in the State Government that can see the multiple benefits of promoting EV transport and EV tourism in Tasmania: Tasmania looks to EVs as next step to 100% renewable energy.
Coincidently, a few days ago I was pleasantly surprised to read that the Tasmanian Labor is expanding its commitment to making Tasmania a national leader in electric transport technology!
No, I’m not in politics, just a retired engineer seeking sustainable living and touring with my beloved Tesla to new horizons, simultaneously promoting electric cars and renewable energy!
Australia has its own unique challenges for charging electric vehicles, especially due to the huge distances between the more densely populated State capitals. Also Tesla has to find a way to overcome this challenge.
Early 2015 it was reported that Tesla would install 16 superchargers between Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and up to the Sunshine Coast. Apparently, a recent article shows some alterations where made to the plan and Tesla now commited to link Melbourne – Sydney – Brisbane with 11 superchargers by the end of 2016.
Besides this SC network, Tesla also helps making destination chargers available at a number of accommodation places, mostly intended for customers staying overnight.
There are also non-Tesla DC fast charging networks already in place such as The RAC Electric Highway® in WA and ongoing projects such as an electric super highway between Gold Coast and Port Douglas, an the initiative from the QLD Government, and according a post in the Australian Leaf Drivers Forum dated January 4, ActewAGL has also started to install some DC chargers in Canberra.
As I have shown in my previous trip reports, in Australia you can find numerous 3 phase power sockets capable of supporting semi-fast charging an EV, scattered all over the place. Tesla Motors Australia, for example, could take advantage of this situation by enabling its owners to access this infrastructure with a 3- phase adapter for their existing mobile charging units, or better by prioritizing the roll out of 3 phase 32A capable chargers capable of charging at a rate of up to 120 kph in the case the Model S is equipped with dual chargers..
The latter could be:
- installed as a fixed wired charger, as “destination charger” at places with food and/or lodging facilities
- installed as a fixed wired “transit charger” at places without food/lodging but allowing for easy parkingand a bit of a rest before continuing a trip.
- or be supplied to Tesla owners as “mobile transit charger” provided with 20 and 32A appropriate dongles/adapters for 3 phase,
Logically, I would expect that putting this as a priority can only result into increased satisfaction of existing customers and eliminate any range anxiety that a potential customer may have. These also much cheaper than a Super Charger, so could be rolled out much quicker, eventually as a temporary solution.
I have no insight in Teslas marketing strategy for the Model 3 in Australia, perhaps they haven’t worked that out themselves, but really, expecting the Model 3 to have a high volume sales potential, what happens if the Supercharger network isn’t rolled out prior to its local release. The reality maybe that most potential customers don’t understand that they will charge most of the time at home but they may be put off a purchase in the absence of a more ambitious supercharger network.
Luckily, before buying my own car I timely learned how these mostly European made 3 phase 32A capable EVSEs Charge Controllers could be of help to travel beyond the Tesla SC reach into regional Australia. The availability of these 3rd party “semi-fast- transit charger solutions” distinctly helped me making the decision to purchase this magnificent car.
My suggestion to Tesla for this case is “Think Global, Act Local”! The Tesla Model S is already a fantastic car for great road trips and has a great appeal for ecotourism in Australia. Consider that for regional driving in Australia supplying a versatile EVSE charging solution would complement the intended SC infrastructure in an economically justified manner.
Imagine, if Tesla sales staff could sell every car in Australia including dual chargers and add a versatile powerful 32A EVSE Charge Controller as a solution for regional driving eliminating range anxiety and drastically improving the scope for using the car….wouldn’t you expect sales to increase?
Further in the future, also the Model 3 marketing and sales may benefit from the regional availability of such “transit charger” network.
Last but not least I believe that availability of some 3 phase transit chargers along the main roads may make us Tesla drivers less dependent on city located SC with nearby shopping and dining facilities as these are sometimes congested due to competition for parking spots with ICE cars:
On request of a few colleagues Tesla drivers here are a few more pics of both EVSE Charge controllers that I use and allow me to charge during my long distance travels beyond the Tesla SC Infrastructure.
Both are very good units but my preference goes to the MAXICHARGER because the interchangeable lock-unlock cable adapters for 3-phase and single phase, with specific maximum ampere rating.
For each of those adapters, on one side you can have an OZ standard plug in function of the amperage of the socket you will plug into, and on the other side there is a Harting IP65 lockable connector that contains a specific resistor to restrict the max amperage draw allowed for that adaptor cable. The Harting lockable connector clamps onto the female Harting connector on the unit’s enclosure.
The strategy of using cable adapters or dongles with build- in resistor protection is similar to what Tesla did for their UMCs sold in Europe and US.
IMHO, the Maxicharger:
- is fail proof for protecting the power socket and installation you are connected to, it basically avoidsdrawing a too high current from a GPO or industrial socket where you will plug into.
- with all necessary dongles is more compact and comes with a sturdy aluminium box.The e-Station unit comes standard with a 3phase fixed cable and 32 A 5 pin plug. To connect to a GPO or industrial socket with a lower Amp rating you cannot disconnect that fixed cable and need multiple adapter cables as the one that can be seen in the pic. Each of those adapter cables needs to be connected to the fixed 3 phase 32A cable socket. Consequently the unit + complete set of adaptor cables is more bulky. Also, as the unit comes with a standard 32 A 5 pin plug the resistor protection strategy is not possible and it requires user education and care to save the electricity supply network from tripping or damaging the socket connection.Both units come with a 7 m long cable with Mennekes Type 2 plug to fit the Tesla charging port.
The manufacturers of both units provide the gear with specs in function of the Australian power network standards. For more info check with the manufacturers or suppliers.Please note such EVSE Charge Controllers are also available in a Mode 2 / Type 1 (SAE J1772) version. For my long distance trips I normally also bring some extra gear for charging:
- 15m extension cable 15A rated,
- SAE J1772 to Mennekes adapter cable
- CHAdeMO to Mennekes adapter cable
- 15m extension cable rated for 3 phase 32 A 5 pinHereunder, you’ll find some odometer data at departure and upon arrival back home:
The AVG Energy consumption of 169 Wh/km at the start of the trip represents an energy consumption that I achieved during Oct and Nov when I mostly drove shorter trips with quite some on secondary roads.
You can see how this 169 Wh/km increased to 177 Wh/km during our travel to and through Tasmania and the main reason for this increase was a lot of highway driving between Coffs Harbour and Melbourne at speeds of up to 110 kph.
When increasing the cruise speed from 90 kph to 110 kph the consumption increases considerably but at these speeds a Tesla Model S with its lower drag coefficient will consume less than a BMW i3 EV .
For our return journey between Bribie Island and Port Melbourne where we boarded the ferry “Spirit of Tasmania” we charged batteries at the following places: Kyogle Showground, Coffs Harbour Showground, The Observatory Hotel in Port Macquairie, Telligence Plugshare in Newcastle, Tesla Superchargers at St. Leonards – Sydney / Gouldburn / Gundagai / Wodonga / Euroa and Richmond – Melbourne.
While at the Tesla Service Centre at St. Leonards we gave the opportunity to the staff to certify our seatbelts were OK and we raised our own energy level mulching some Tesla Sydney birthday cakes.
In preparation of our travel through Tasmania I joined efforts with Damon, another Tesla owner who was keen to tour Tasmania, to find enough places where we could charge. Below you’ll find a table with more info about the charging places we found.
Once again, my sincere thanks to the people who made it possible for us to charge at the above mentioned places, as without their open spirit of cooperation and interest such Tesla touring wouldn’t be possible!
For each section driven in Tasmania I used the EV Trip Planner to estimate consumption and checked it with my real consumption and based on that experience I can highly recommend to other Tesla drivers to try out this app! On the full distance driven in Tasmania I ended up with a total Kwh consumption that was within 2% of the consumption estimated using the app.
Some trip experiences and pictures:
The long stretches of highway between Coffs Harbour and Melbourne were a good opportunity to use the Tesla’s autopilot function. Undoubtedly it enhances driving comfort for the large distances but there are still a few issues that still need addressed.
First, if driving with cruise control and autopilot on new stretches of roads not recognized by the car’s mapping the car will tend to quickly slow down. In our Tesla community one of those places is known as “the Holbrook halt”. In mid-October a European and Australian Technical Support Specialist from Tesla emailed me that there would soon be an update for the maps which are used in the Navigation in the Model S, so hopefully that issue will be resolved soon.
Secondly, driving directly into the sun close to sunrise or a sunset, sometimes triggers abnormal behaviour of the autopilot and the driver better takes over control.
Spirit of Tasmania Ferry:
Woolnorth Wind Farm:
Thanks to the coordination by Laura at Woolnorth Tours we had an interesting encounter with the wind farm’s staff and a few members of the Tasmania AEVA branch. Our Tesla Model S was joined with 2 PHEV Mitsubishi Outlanders to tap some wind energy electric power while Laura guided us on their 2 hours Woolnorth Wind Farm, Woolnorth and Cape Grim Tour.
Imagine that each of the larger Vesta V90 wind turbines produces enough electricity to power up 300 electric cars commuting 60km each per day…
As you can see in the above picture we looked pretty happy and the cows as well, none of us encountered any infrasound experiences! Personally I remain convinced that people are regularly subjected to much higher levels of infrasound walking alongside traffic, air conditioners or even attending public meetings or sessions of political discussions in the parliament.
Stanley, Tarkine Wilderness, Cradle Mountain:
Going to North-West Tasmania one shouldn’t miss to see some of the Tarkine Wilderness. Ideally one should stay a couple of nights in Stanley and do the Tarkine drive with lots of attractions.
In Stanley we did a mini battery top-up at the recreational grounds while enjoying a stroll over the beach to the nearby centre and eating some local delicacies.
Driving from Stanley to Cradle Mountain, you can pass a section of the Tarkine wilderness and there are some pristine nature spots with walks that are perfect for a break and a picnic.
In Cradle Mountain, we stayed at the Lodge and made some splendid walks along the Pencil Pine River and around Devon Lake.
Roseberry, Zeehan and Strahan
Driving from Cradle Mountain to Strahan we made a stop in Roseberry where we visited the high Montezuma Falls and later walked around in Zeehan, the old “Silver City” with its West Coast Pioneer Museum.
The road to Strahan is offering some green panoramas but as a driver you don’t have much time to contemplate. Only a limited part is OK for using the autopilot as the road is narrow and super winding. Going downwards to Strahan you can get the best out of the Model S regenerative braking capacity!
Arriving in Strahan we were warmly welcomed at Strahan Village as we were the first to reach there in a 100% BEV, Tesla Model S. The local Manager John Comber had a surprise for us picking a room with superb views and inviting us for a diner! He also did set up a meeting with his staff electrician for the next morning to discuss which parking places would be ideal for installing 1 or 2 destination chargers. The hotel is owned by the Royal Automobile Club Tasmania which also operates hotels in Cradle Mountain, Freycinet Peninsula and Hobart. Tesla has been in contact with the RACT with the purpose of setting up destination chargers for each.
While I had put the car in charge at Strahan Village we went for a cruise on the magnificent Gordon River, which is a must when visiting Strahan. The local weather gods did like us because the waters were unusually calm even at Hells Gates, the narrow entrance where the river meets the Indian Ocean and has been a challenge for many ships. During the 6 hour trip you’ll enjoy magnificent views of the National Park from the comfortable cruise ship, you’ll have a guided tour in a small section of the park and a memorable stop at Sarah Island where the sublime guides bring you back to the time that convicts were brought over to the island to build ships with the famous Huon Pine originating from the now protected Franklin Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.
Another famous attraction is the West Coast Wilderness Railway. The restored original steam railway goes between Strahan and Queenstown but we decided to go through the wilderness at our own pace and in Tesla comfort and silence!
Part 1 of this report ends here. In Part 2 you’ll read about our journey experiences in the remaining areas as indicated on the map at the start of this article and a conclusion/suggestion with regards to Tasmanian EV Tourism.