Having recently purchased my first Electric Vehicle I thought it was important to just throw myself right in the deep end and do a road trip from Brisbane to Townsville to see if it could be done.
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Purchasing the Car
While I did research a lot of different Electric Cars, I kept on coming back to the Tesla Model Y. I just could not go past its price point, it’s insane speed and level of technology. The other brands will catch up and I have seen some amazing new brands already at our local dealerships now. But what makes Tesla different, is that they are a Technology Company first and Car Company second.
How do you buy a Tesla
It is daunting buying a Tesla online with a Credit Card. You pay a $400 deposit, and you are away. Living in North Queensland this is particularly difficult as there is no one to talk to about it or anywhere to test drive one. It is an extreme leap of faith and not what we are used too. I honestly don’t really like the way they do it and would much rather talk to a local car dealer.
This is also next level. Tesla send you a bunch of webinars to learn online. (For someone like me this is a shocker) I had two choices; they would deliver it to my house in Townsville or pick it up in Brisbane. I chose Brisbane so I could experience the road trip firsthand and to get some sort of hand over experience. Wow I am happy I went to Brisbane to pick it up and to have some level of training how to drive it and use it. If I did not do this, I believe my car would still be in the driveway in Townsville.
Off I went
My first destination was the Gympie Tesla Super Charger. The Tesla has full voice activation. I just told it to navigate there, and it locked in my destination, how long it would take, and how much charge I would have when I got there. It was extremely accurate. I then made sure the car was in auto pilot mode and off I went.
Driving a Tesla
It was pouring down rain, but I felt extremely safe in this car. It just hugs the road and auto pilot keeps you snug in the middle of the lane. The car has an incredible feature with camera’s all around it, which shows you everything moving around you and how the car is positioned in the traffic. It also speeds up, slows down and keeps you in your lane, along with the acceleration that only an EV Driver can explain to what it feels like at take-off.
How do you Charge?
When doing a road trip, it is extremely important to plan and identify where you are going to top up. PlugShare will be your best friend here. It is a free app that shows you where all the chargers are and if they are working. When you are travelling distance, you are ideally looking for a fast DC Charger. For example, the Gympie Supercharger is free use and is a 120KW fast DC Charger fast. In about 20 minutes I was back to 100% charge level.
What is the benefit of a A/C Charger.
At the big highway charging stations, they generally give you both options A/C and D/C. The A/C charger is usually a 22KW Charger, which is great for your EV battery life but no good if you are in a hurry. Cars like the Tesla can only take 11KW with A/C which is slow if you are in a hurry. A/C Chargers are perfect for your Home, Motels, Gyms, Apartments, Shops and at work for when you have plenty of time. They are also great as the take less power to run for your Switchboard and infrastructure.
What is the benefit of D/C Charger.
D/C Chargers are quick? Most D/C Chargers on the highway range from 50KW to 350KW. For example, a Tesla with 74 KWH range can be charged to 100% in about 20 – 30 mins with a 350KW Charger. But the downside is that it is not that good for the long-term battery of your car if you are using these all the time. However, they are perfect and very popular for travelers to get back on the road very quickly.
What is the Range in a Tesla Model Y
The standard Tesla Model Y has approximately 455KM on a full charge. When comparing it to a petrol or diesel car it is completely opposite with consumption patterns. Driving on the highway with a petrol or diesel car will get better fuel economy but lower economy around town when slowing down and accelerating. With an EV you get much better efficiency around town as the car charges itself with regenerative braking every time you slow down. On the highway it is less efficient as you are locked onto a set speed for longer periods. So, on the highway the standard Tesla Model Y will achieve around 350KM on a full charge however the Tesla Model Y Long Range has a 533KM range.
Bundaberg – Rookie Error
When I was in Childers, I never charged the car to full capacity as there was a line up waiting for me. I was heading to Bundaberg next and had enough capacity to get there. The rookie error I made was to not check on the Plugshareapp to see if the Bundaberg fast charger was working. Unfortunately, when I got there it was down. The next charger I went to was a 22KW A/C charger at the pub, but it never had its own charging cable. When you buy a Tesla, they don’t come with a charging cable!
It was 7pm at night and I only had 50KM of range left in my Tesla! This was my first experience of severe EV Anxiety. The only charger left to try was a slow Tesla Charger at the PCYC. I was very lucky as it was working great. However, I was stuck there until 11pm charging it up as it was only a 11kW Charger.
Using the accelerator
It is a real change in culture driving a Tesla with Regenerative Braking as you pretty much never use the brake in your car. It takes a bit to get used to, but after a while it becomes natural to do. I drove from Rockhampton to Mackay without using the brake pedal. The Car also does not move at all in forward or reverse with using the accelerator.
I drove the Marlborough stretch at night. It was daunting at first, however the automatic and intelligent lighting system is just incredible. They car ramps the lights up and down automatically maximizing visibility along with detecting on coming vehicles.
The Tesla identifies the colours in the traffic lights. For example, it tells you when it is green and ready to go. It also seems to slow you down if there is speeding cameras coming up. You also don’t have a key to your car as it is all controlled by your phone. They give you a backup credit card looking device to use if you ever lose your phone. It will start and lock your car. Furthermore, it enables others to drive your car without your phone.
The Tesla has endless entertainment features that you can use while you are parked up or charging. It has an Incredible sound system and features that makes it feel like a 4D movie theatre when watching Netflix, Disney Plus or YouTube on the big Tesla Screen. It also has arcade games, music mixing, a fireplace or you can do business Zoom calls just to mention some of it. But my favorite is the prank mode which sets a woopie cushion under a seat of a car and farks when they sit down. The car also can go full party mode which is something you just have to see for yourself.
Why Hotels need Chargers?
It is essential that Motels start getting A/C Chargers. It is by far the best way to charge and super convenient compared to lining up on a highway for a fast Charger. Furthermore it is the best for long term battery health for your car. Pretty soon a hotel without an EV Charger will be like not having wifi.
It certainly was a great experience driving from Brisbane to Townsville, and it only cost me $21 in charging to do it. It helped me significantly understand EV life and the mindset of a new EV driver. It was not that hard to do if you plan well. It was also great to meet so many new EV drivers at the charging stations and they are all just totally in love with their cars. I know for a fact that I would never go back to a petrol or diesel car. I must admit I still go to the petrol station to wash my windscreen though.
The whole experience is shown here.
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Founder & Manager of Horan & Bird Energy. Director of Master Electricians Australia. John has played a key entrepreneurial role in the transformation of the Energy Landscape in Queensland having founded Horan & Bird in 2004 and building it to a $35 Million Business. The business was then sold, repurchased and merged with Juice Capital in 2020. Juice Capital own one of the largest renewable energy funds in Australia and allow customers to go solar and batteries for no up front capital through Power Purchase Agreements.