Written by John Horan
This Christmas holidays, my family and I spent a week in Byron Bay. I thought, what a great opportunity to live the Electric Vehicle experience in Australia’s most environmentally conscious town. Now, when I told my wife (she is like a lot of Australian’s – very skeptical) she said, “great this car is going to ruin our holiday”. It was going to be a fun trip!
We flew into Brisbane and hired a full electric Polestar 2, as there were no Teslas left, to drive to Byron Bay. The car was probably a bit too small for four people with large suitcases, but we squeezed in. The Polestar’s are a Swedish car owned by Volvo.
When you first jump into one of these spaceships it is overwhelming, there is a lack of buttons and dials as mostly everything is controlled by a large touch screen. There isn’t even a start button as it is all controlled by the driver’s seat. It turns on and off when you sit in it or get out. Not going to lie here, it took at least 20 mins to feel confident enough to work out how things worked and to drive out.
Will we make it to Byron Bay on one Charge?
As you can imagine this was the first question my wife asked as we finally drove away. I was honestly still trying to get the radio and air conditioner to work correctly. The Polestar 2 has 75KWH capacity in storage which gives it a range of approximately 450 – 480 km. What I found super impressive was how the car automatically links with google maps when you type in the location. Up on the screen it displays the distance, time and exactly how much charge you will have left when you reach the destination.
When I showed my wife this display, she felt more comfortable as it said that it would take 2 hours to get there, (175km) and there would be still be 65% charge left in the car. This car was full of people and luggage, air conditioner going flat out, and I drove it at full legal speeds (hard to do when they are so fast) the whole way. When we arrived, it was spot on with its predictions (one myth gone from my wife’s mind).
Charging up the car
On day two, I had to go to Ballina so I thought I would top up the car. I downloaded the Charge Fox App which showed me where all the public chargers were and off I went. There were 3 chargers in Ballina at the shopping centre, and they were all not being used and available (the app shows you this). However, the first one was faulty, and I couldn’t get the other two to work. I still had plenty of capacity, so it wasn’t panic stations, but I was never going to tell my wife this.
On the way back to Byron I went to Woolworths where the app showed there was 3 more free chargers. So, if you are familiar with Byron Bay there is no parking anywhere and it is bumper to bumper traffic. I drove into the carpark, and it was completely full except for the 3 carparks that said ‘Electric Vehicle Charging Only’. The first two still didn’t work, however, I got to the third charger, and someone had handwritten on the outside of the station:
- Download the App
- Link Credit Card to App
- Plug in here
- Press the freaking green button!
- Plug into your freaking car!
So, where I was going wrong was that I did not have my Credit Card linked in the APP. I thought I could just tap the credit card on the charger. I then followed the instructions from this legend who wrote this, and it saved my Christmas holidays.
Driving an Electric Vehicle
It is true that they are quick, in fact unbelievably quick, especially at take off. I have never experienced anything like it in a car from instant acceleration. My previous vehicle, was the last of the Commodore utes, and my wife drives a new Audi A3 Sports – both fast cars. They have absolutely nothing on this. They are also so very quiet; you can barely hear them at all.
They are different in the way that when you take your foot off the accelerator, in an EV it does not slow down like a normal petrol car. I found this a bit to get used to, especially on the highway in those 110KPH zones. That meant I was constantly touching the brakes to slow down. However, what was a big surprise to me was how the car starts charging itself every time you slow down with the brakes making them very efficient.
Motels don’t have chargers yet
Where we stayed there were 24 villas and 24 underground carparks. There was not one charger there or even a power point. I spoke to the owner and asked him if he had facilities to charge up an EV. (In my head I was like come on mate you are in Byron Bay). He walked into the carpark with me, and I showed him the 3 cars in there that were already Electric and had no where to charge up. I said to him next year there will be at least 6 in here, but they won’t come here if next door has EV Chargers in place. He promised me he will have one installed for me next year!
Recently I had my team call more than 100 motels up and down the coast to ask if they had EV chargers available for customers to charge up and have a full range for their trip the next day. Not one of these motels had an EV Charger. We know 90% of EV owners charge up at home, so hotels really need to make this a priority, or they will turn into the hotel that was the last to get Wi-Fi.
Mobile Phone Charging culture.
Having a mobile phone certainly does play with your habits of wanting to charge it up every night to start the day with full charge. Owning an EV does make you subconsciously want to do the same thing especially when there is a charger in your garage. On the first night I had it, I could not stop dreaming of batteries getting charged up. However, over time people will feel more comfortable with not having to charge up every night especially when they can charge up for free in their daily routines.
Drove 700KM’s on the holiday and only spent $17.
For the entire holiday we drove over 700KM’s, and I only spent $17 to charge up the car. I took advantage of the free charging where I could. Back home, I know I could do this every Saturday and Sunday with my solar system, or at work with the larger solar system we have here.
Won over the wife and ordered the new Tesla
Like me and many others once you drive an Electric Car and feel the instant power and smoothness you will not want to go back to drive a petrol or diesel car. Even my wife lost most of her fears of being stuck on the side of the rode with no charge.
I totally understand that families that like to go fishing or tow a caravan once every 3 months will still want to drive the Toyota Hilux dual cab for their pulling power. Most Mums will be the first to buy an EV in the family, but I can tell you, Dad’s won’t be far away from upgrading to the new EV utes once they have driven Mum’s new EV!
I really wanted to experience living with an EV to really understand the patterns and mindsets that people will have and to dismiss half the myths stopping people from getting one. There are definitely not enough public chargers in place yet, but this will come with demand. When you buy an EV you will charge it up at home and it will last most people the whole week on one charge at the fraction of the cost of using a petrol or diesel car. My new Tesla is coming in May this year!
- Mums will purchase an EV First – But Dad will drive it because they are just damn cool!
- 30% of all new cars purchased will be electric within 3 years. If the average house has 2-3 cars in it, at least one of these could be electric. That means every home needs to be EV ready.
- Homes with a garage will be sort after so they can charge their cars.
- Rental properties will need to have EV chargers.
- Unit complexes will not be sort after if they do not have EV charger capability.
You can download our EV Guide here.
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.