Funding partnership to build national EV fast-charging network

Australians will be able to charge their electric vehicles in more rural and regional locations with the federal government announcing it will partner with motoring group NRMA to build a ‘backbone’ nation-wide network of fast-charging sites on major highways across the country by 2025.

The federal government will team with the NRMA to build 117 new fast-charging stations along Australian highways, including in regional and remote areas in every state and territory, over the next two years as part of a $78.6 million (USD 53 million) funding partnership designed to better connect towns and cities and address “known black spots.”

While exact sites for the infrastructure haven’t been finalised, the federal government and the NRMA have identified 131 potential regional locations with the fast chargers to be positioned about every 150 kilometres on national highways.

NRMA Chief Executive – Energy, Carly Irving-Dolan, said the network would for the charging backbone of Australia, connecting the country so everyone is able to drive when and where they want as the number of Australians buying EVs increases.

“Australia’s expansive landscape presents some unique and local challenges to ensure that we are ready for more electric vehicles on our roads,” she said. “We fundamentally believe that regional Australia should not be left behind.”

The federal government will commit $39.3 million dollars to the project as part of the part of the $500 million Driving the Nation funding package that is to be delivered by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) over the next five years.

The new sites will complement existing and planned EV charging infrastructure with the fast chargers to be compatible with all EVs and accessible by all motorists. The minimum charging rate for each site is expected to be at least 75 kW.

Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen said the government’s stake in the charging rollout is designed to encourage more Australians to adopt zero-emission cars and eliminate ‘range anxiety’ for long-distance drivers.

“This project will help close the gaps and known black spots in the network and make it possible to drive from Darwin to Perth, Broken Hill to Adelaide, and from Brisbane to Tennant Creek in the NT,” he said.

“EVs aren’t just for the cities and Australians who drive long distances either for work or for holidays should be able to reap the benefits of cars that are cheaper and cleaner to run.”

The announcement comes one week after the government launched its National Electric Vehicle Strategy, which outlines strategies designed to accelerate the uptake of zero-emission cars in Australia which the peak motoring body said has now passed a major milestone.

New data provided by the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) shows that for the first time on record, EV sales in Australia have overtaken petrol-driven vehicles in the medium-sized car category.

The latest AAA EV index update reveals that in the first quarter of this year, 58.29% of new medium-sized cars sold were battery electric vehicles. Australians bought 7,866 battery electric medium-sized cars in the first quarter, up from 2,988 in the previous quarter.

Internal combustion engines still dominate sales in all other light vehicle categories.

In all categories 17,396 battery electric vehicles were sold in the first quarter, up 49.4% on the previous quarter, with 11,639 sold from October to December.

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