NRMA rolling out at least 40 electric vehicle fast chargers across NSW for members, investing $10mn in charging infrastructure

The NRMA are making a significant investment in a NSW-centric electric car fast-charging network for their members, putting them on the front foot and attempting act as a leading voice in the transition to electric vehicles in NSW.

Their plan is short on detail in terms of locations and timings, but this does leave an opportunity open for communities to engage with the NRMA to guide their rollout plan. Let’s look at what they’ve announced so far.

Why is the NRMA rolling out electric car chargers?

Well, the NRMA are recognising that the future of motoring is in electric vehicles – it’s just a question of over what time-horizon. They want to be seen as being at the forefront of this transition, not just watching it from afar.

Our purpose is to keep people moving. This includes supporting motorists as they transition to a world where petrol powered cars will eventually be replaced by electric and automated vehicles.

…historically a major barrier for people considering purchasing electric vehicles is access to conveniently located, safe, fast chargers. We want to change this.

The investment seems like a pretty business-savvy move from the NRMA. Not only can advocate for electric car ownership, creating a brand halo-effect in the eyes of early adopters, but also add value for their membership products – such as roadside assistance and insurance.

Where and when will the NRMA be installing chargers?

There are no confirmed details on this yet, so right now, the announcement is not much more than the NRMA committing to allocate funds to the project and see it through in public.

The announcement page on the NRMA website says:

We hope to have our first charging stations operational next year and we will take a phased approach to the roll out of the network.

So, no confirmed timings.

We’ll be prioritising sites where lots of NRMA Members live, where electric vehicles are embraced and supported, and areas of high tourism demand, striking the balance between infrastructure delivery for both metropolitan and regional communities.

And no confirmed locations, other than their existing charger outside the NRMA head office at Sydney Olympic Park which was opened in August 2017.

i3 outside NRMA office in Sydney.jpg
NRMA charger with a BMW i3 at Sydney Olympic Park – image courtesy of a Plugshare user
NRMA Sydney Charger.jpg
NRMA charger at Sydney Olympic Park – image courtesy of a Plugshare user

A new NRMA electric vehicle FAQ page gives some insight on the NRMAs thinking about how they’ll be deciding to plan the network:

  • More than 95 per cent of NRMA Member road trips will be covered by the network. The $10 million investment will deliver at least 40 chargers, more than double the size of the current network of chargers in NSW and the ACT.
  • The first chargers will be rolled out across Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the ACT, the Illawarra, the Mid North Coast and Newcastle
  • We hope to have the next charging stations operational next year and will take a phased approach to the roll out of the network
  • We’ll be prioritising sites where lots of NRMA Members live, where electric vehicles are embraced and supported, and areas of high tourism demand
  • Sites will be selected based on a range of factors, including community support, planning policies, land use, environmental factors and electricity supply
  • The position of the chargers will consider a vehicle range of around 200km

So reading between the lines, the NRMA are just in the planning phases of the rollout and this is likely to be a multi-year effort to reach the 40 promised chargers.

However, this could be a great opportunity for engaged communities to push for an NRMA fast charger in their local area. If this seems like your thing, the NRMA are asking for expressions of interest here.

Who will be able to use the NRMA charging network?

It seems as though any NRMA member will eligible to charge for free.

It’s worth bearing in mind that NRMA membership is also available as a standalone option – Club Care – which is $45 per year with a $55 joining fee.

NRMA Club Care

For those who don’t need or want other NRMA products, if the charging network ends up being truly useful then this could be an acceptable fee to pay for access, assuming that all member levels can use the chargers.

Summing up – the NRMA’s plan looks good, but let’s hope we see some more details soon

This is a really welcome announcement and a savvy move by the NRMA to consider the use of their social development fund to drive (pun intended) the benefits of EV usage.

It’s a bit of a shame it seems that initiative, for now, is little more than some well-resourced, good intentions. Hopefully some progress on location assessment is already underway, and that updates will be communicated well – both to NRMA members and interested non-members.

That said, with the announcement of the plan this early on in th project, it’s a great opportunity for forward-thinking local communities interested in having a charger placed in their area to engage with the NRMA.

Hopefully we’ll see frequent updates and real progress on the roll-out soon.

Keith enjoys nerding out about Electric Vehicles, having bought his BMW i3 and launched Drive Zero in early 2017.

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