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How to charge your Electric Car in Canberra – a look at charging options in the ACT

Canberra – and all of the ACT for that matter – has the best EV incentives of any Australian state currently. These are part of their “Transition to Zero Emissions Vehicles Action Plan 2018-2021” and include a number of initiatives to incentives the uptake of electric cars.

As a result, they also have some of the best charging infrastructure in the country too. There are a number of (mostly free) charging networks with dozens of charging locations all over the city already installed with many more to come.This guide outlines all the details that new and existing EV owners might need to easily and cheaply charge their car while in Canberra.

To begin with it’s important to know that there are multiple different charging networks out there. From the Tesla Superchargers, to the Tesla Destination Chargers to the ActewAGL EVlution network, they are all a bit different.

ActewAGL’s EVlution Charging Network

The two main networks that are available are the Tesla Supercharger/Destination Charger networks and the Evlution network operated by ActewAGL, which also goes by the super catchy and easy to remember name of “ActewAGL’s EV charging network”.

You can sign up to the ActewAGL network here and they’ll then send you an RFID card get started. Their network in the ACT is made up of 11 charging stations and they plan on adding more.

ActewAGL’s charging stations offer both Rapid and Fast Chargers with Rapid offering what is otherwise known as Level 3 or DC fast charging, and Fast Chargers offering Level 2 AC charging.

AGLActew Rapid Charger

AGLActew Fast Charger

One thing you have to know if you’re driving a newer Electric Car: the AGLActew Rapid Chargers use Type 1 / CCS1 plugs, which means owners of Jaguar I-PACE, Nissan LEAF, new BMW i3 and i3s won’t be able to use them – unless you have an adaptor (which are expensive at around $1,500!) or until Evlution adds another or converts their plugs.

The Fast Chargers are Type 1 plugs but this is more easily dealt with for new car owners with a cheaper conversion cable.

How much does the AGLActew network cost to charge?

Jaguar I-Pace Charge Port

For the Evlution network charging will cost you different amounts depending on which plan you subscribe to. You can add your credit card in their website so you are ready to charge on arrival, and there is a full list of charging plans here, so in summary you can opt for:

  • Casual Plan: $2 per use of Fast Charger and $5 per 15 minutes use of Rapid Charger
  • Basic Plan: $10 per month gives you free Fast Charger use and $3.50 per 15 minutes use of Rapid Charger
  • Budget Plan: $25 per 3 months gives you free Fast Charger use, 30 minutes free use of Rapid Charger and $3.50 per 15 minutes use of Rapid Charger after that
  • Value Plan: $45 per 6 months gives you free Fast Charger use, 90 minutes free use of Rapid Charger and $3.50 per 15 minutes use of Rapid Charger after that
  • VIP Plan: $85 per 12 months gives you free Fast Charger use, 210 minutes free use of Rapid Charger and $2.50 per 15 minutes use of Rapid Charger after that

Given the Rapid Chargers are Level 3 and can deliver up to 50 kW of power, you could theoretically receive around 12 kWh’s of power for that 15 minute period. If you’re on the Casual Plan that prices it at around $0.40 per kWh where as on the other plans it’s around $0.30 per kWh.

Tesla charging options in the ACT

If you own a Tesla Model S or X, obviously it’s easiest to focus on the Tesla network. The easiest way to find and use these will be through the navigation interface on your cars touchscreen. It should easily route you through to the closest charger and will even show you whether or not it’s being used. You can also use the Evlution network if you wish too.

Right now there’s no SuperCharger in Canberra, but one is planned. Depending on whether your Tesla came with infinite free Supercharging or not you may have to pay a small fee to use the Supercharger when it’s opened. This small fee is $0.35 per kWh and only applies after you use up your 400 kWh allotment that you get each year. Most Destination Chargers on the other hand are completely free which is great, but obviously they are much slower.

Tesla’s Destination Chargers are more widespread, with charging available at a number of hotels and shopping centres throughout Canberra.

Unfortunately for now, other cars cannot use the Supercharger or Destination Charger networks but perhaps this might change one day. For those not in Tesla’s you’ll want to sign up with the Evlution network in advance to make things easy.

Tesla offers a CHAdeMO adapter which would enable you to fast charge your car from the AGLActew Rapid Chargers, so if you can borrow or buy one then you can also hook up to these chargers too.

Finally, it’s worth knowing that if you end up exhausting your Supercharger credits and have to pay for its use, the Evlution network does seem good value for money. Then again Superchargers are more than twice as quick, delivering 120 kW’s of power.

Where are the chargers located?

The easiest way to explain this is with a map – this one from PlugShare shows the location of all the chargers including both Tesla’s and Evlution’s.

If you’d like to see where the upcoming Tesla Supercharger locations are going to be you can also check out this map here for more info.

Charger levels and plug types

Depending on which network you go with you’ll get a different charging rate and a different plug. If you’d like a whole lot more info on charger level types and plug definitions check out our main beginners guide to charging here. Assuming you’re up to speed with all the technical details, these are the full details for each of the networks and their chargers.

Tesla:

Evlution

  • Rapid Chargers: Level 3 charger (50 kW) with CHAdeMO and CCS Combo Type 1 plugs
  • Fast Chargers: Level 2 charger (22 kW) with Mennekes Type 2 plugs

As we said earlier, remember the ActewAGL Rapid Chargers only have CCS1 plugs on them which means when the next generation of EV’s come out soon (Jaguar I-PACE, Nissan LEAF etc) they won’t be able to use them unless you have an adaptor or Evlution adds more plugs.

Summing up: ACT is flying the flag for charging infrastructure roll-out in Australia

While it’s clear EV owners in Canberra have a great range of chargers to pick from already it’s only going to get better given the state’s focus on EV’s. They have a 2020 target to be entirely running on 100% renewable electricity, which they have almost reached. As such, the state is now turning to the transportation industry to continue their pollution reduction plans.

In some ways, ActewAGL in Canberra has moved a touch too early with their fast chargers – at the time they rolled them out, Type 1 plugs were the industry standard. The EV market in Australia has standardised on Type 2 as the plug going forward appearing on new cars, and there’s no cheap adapter for CCS1 -> CCS2 chargers, which leaves new EV owners unable to fast charge. However, at least the majority of existing owners are catered for.

How AGLActew resolves the mismatch remains to be seen – the best option for owners is to add a new CCS2 cable alongside the CHAdeMO and existing
CCS1 cables, but that may not be technically feasible.

All that said, all of this effort can only be a good thing as it’ll mean more private and fleet cars being pulled and pushed towards all electric power, but also buses, garbage trucks, vans and other modes of transport.

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