by Grantlee Kieza
22nd April, 2021
Electric vehicles on the charge
The sale of electric cars in Australia has doubled this year.
In a bid to win new customers, increasing numbers of accommodation providers are supplying guests with charging equipment.
Dean Long, CEO of the Accommodation Association of Australia, says that while electric cars are still not widespread in this country, his industry realises the shifting nature of the way guests will travel in the future.
“Hotels and motels have always been quick to adopt new innovations and chargers for electric cars are another way for properties to entice guests,” Mr Long said. “Accommodation providers who equip themselves with chargers are able to use this as a point of difference.”
“Electric cars are becoming more widespread, and we will see them become much more common in the next five to ten years."
“I know the Kurrajong Hotel in Canberra was very quick to come on board with charging equipment and Jerry Schwartz has also taken up the technology for a lot of his properties.”
In 2018, The Schwartz Hotel Group transformed the rooftop of the Mercure Sydney into a major solar energy receptor, to produce renewable energy for the hotel’s operation and help reduce its carbon emissions.
The installation also powers the Mercure Sydney’s electric car charging station, which is available free to guests in the car park. It was one of the first hotels in Sydney to install an in-house electric car charging station, with car charging facilities also available at Schwartz hotels including the Hilton Surfers Paradise, Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, Fairmont Resort and Mercure Canberra.
Motoring journalist Paul Gover said most electric vehicles were more expensive than the petrol alternatives and that many drivers still suffered "range anxiety".
He told the ABC that the cars were “terrific if you live in the inner city because the range is fine. But if you want to travel, we're a long way from a tipping point yet of making electric work in Australia.”
Already, though, electric vehicle owners are choosing where they stay, based on how conveniently they can charge their vehicle and at what cost.
Therefore, any regional property offering the facility to charge EVs will attract a share of that business.
Michael Leaney, who owns the iconic Star Hotel in the magnificent tourist town of Walhalla, two hours east of Melbourne, became the first hotelier in his region to install charging facilities for EVs.
He installed two units and uses two plugs – a Type 2 for Teslas and a J1776 for other vehicles. He told Accom News that together with installation, the whole process and equipment cost a combined $4000, but the Baw Baw Shire Councillor says it is money well spent.
“There is a growing market for EVs and there will be more and more on the road. Melbourne is bristling with plugs, but it dies away quickly in regional areas,’’ he said.
“We installed our units late in 2019 just before lockdown so our promotion for them went pear-shaped."
“But while I can’t say we are seeing a lot of electric vehicles yet, guests with EVs seek you out. And the demand will become greater and greater as EVs become more popular."
“It is certainly a selling point for a hotel to be able to offer EV charging, especially if there are no other hotels doing that within your area.”
Guest at the Star Hotel can charge their electric vehicles for free, while casual users are charged $10 for a full charge, or a percentage of that.
Howard Argus, who owns the Castle Creek Motor Inn at Euroa, two hours north of Melbourne, said he had installed Tesla chargers about three years ago.
“We don`t charge for it, it actually depends on your electricity rates as to what it costs,” Mr Argus told his Facebook followers.
“We have solar, so during the day it’s pretty cheap, and overnight it goes onto off peak so still pretty cheap."
“We are the only ones I think between Melbourne and Albury with destination chargers installed, so we got Teslas in here regularly before the virus."
“Some of the other (electric) types stay here as well, but they bring a converter for the Tesla plug.’’
Official new car sales data shows 558 electric vehicles were reported as sold in Australia during January and February of 2021, an increase of 105.1 per cent over the same months last year.
The increase could be higher if Tesla sales were included but although Tesla has been selling cars in Australia since 2014, it does not provide monthly sales updates.
A total of 1769 electric cars were recorded as sold in 2020. However, CarAdvice confirmed that Tesla alone added a further 3430 sales, bringing the national total to 5199, or around 0.56 percent of the new car market.