Australian Tesla drivers have a new place to charge their electric cars—and themselves—on the long trip between Melbourne and Adelaide, thanks to a dedicated charger recently installed by Raidis Estate in Penola, South Australia.
The 400 kilometer range of a Tesla means that drivers making the 700 kilometer trip between Melbourne and Adelaide must be prepared for an overnight stay, unless they have a faster charging option.
Now they do.
The Supercharger, the first to be hosted by an Australian winery, means a stop of only 3 hours for a full charge, compared to the 24 hours that would be required using the Tesla’s mobile charger with the normal residential mains.
Explaining the reason for the addition, Steven Raidis, Raidis Estate’s Managing Director, comments, “People who are driving these cars are forward thinking people, and that’s who we’d like to be looking at our wines as well. We think this fits really well with our brand and where we want to be going in the future.”
A few months ago, Steven welcomed a visitor to the winery, Keith Wein, an engineer and a Melbourne-based Tesla owner. While chatting about his electric car, Keith explained the problems he encounters with charging. On that trip, for example, he had to stay overnight at a caravan park because it was the only place he could charge his car. “Teslas will charge via a typical household power supply,” Keith says, “but waiting a full day and night isn’t a practical option for anyone with a limited time frame.”
It was then that Steven found his inspiration. “He started explaining what needed to happen,” Steven explaines, “and I thought, that doesn’t sound so hard. We could do that tomorrow.”
Tesla’s own Supercharger network provides fast, free charging, but it has yet to reach this community. At present, the network in Australia consists of 26 chargers at only 5 locations, all in the south-east of the country between Melbourne and Sydney.
Tesla is also rolling out their Destination Charging Program into Australia, with over 10 sites presently offering the High Power Wall Unit, but these are the same class of chargers drivers are likely to have at home, not the faster Superchargers.
Still, it’s a move in the right direction, and represents Tesla’s commitment to provide, not just the electric vehicles drivers want, but the charging infrastructure they need to keep those vehicles moving.
Australian Tesla spokesperson Heath Walker notes, “This expanding network of Destination Charging is a great replication of the convenience our owners receive when charging at home. Along with the developing Supercharger network, our owners will be able to cover long distances with the knowledge they have a charging solution.”
In the meantime, Tesla drivers are welcome to spend a few hours visiting the winery at Raidis Estate while they wait for their car to charge. And Steven Raidis’ vision extends beyond the simple installation of an electric vehicle charging station. “We’re a forward-thinking business,” he says. “If we can generate electricity using solar or wind or some form that’s renewable, these cars are going to be the future.”
Australia’s climate and latitude make it ideal for solar power installations and the Australian government has committed to increasing the use of both solar thermal and PV technologies.
At present, the EV charger at Raidis Estate is powered off the grid, but Steven explains that that could change. “We have plans to put more solar in with our next phase, 12 to 18 months away.” And in the longer term? Steven continues, “The market seems to be growing quite quickly. These first few years we don’t expect much. But I think in another 5 years time it might be significant. As there’s more of these cars on the road, it will start to build and we’ll have a lot of people coming through the region to charge their cars. So we think we’re just breaking a bit of new ground and hopefully we’ll get more people on board.”
Steven has already convinced one devoted Tesla driver. Keith recently returned to the winery to test the new charger. “I’m delighted,” he says, “Now I can enjoy a tasting and lunch in Penola and be on my way again.”