More electric vehicles (EV) are expected to be driven on Victoria’s regional roads thanks to an extensive roll-out of free charging stations in the state.
100 free EV charging stations – no more than 100 kilometres apart – are to be placed across the towns of Nhill and Rainbow, Northwest Victoria, as part of Linga Network, what’s being called a first for the Australian automotive industry.
A collaboration between Victoria’s local councils and vehicle manufacturers, Linga Network is investing $1 million in a project that will help meet the increasing number of EVs on the road and respond to the increased call for stronger emission standards. It’s also set to boost tourism across regional Victoria, with regional councils supporting the project in an effort to expand road access for EV users.
“Linga Network’s goal is to break down yet another digital divide for regional Australians,” said Linga Network Founder & CEO Adrian Kinderis. “We’re overcoming the major infrastructure roadblock to electric vehicle ownership – charge anxiety – while supporting regional communities through tourism, economic activity and a boost to their sustainability credentials.”
There are currently around 20,000 EV owners in Australia – and the numbers are rising. Linga Network is eyeing the gap in Australia’s charging infrastructure: Regional areas. Thus far, much of the planned or established charging stations are located along major highways and are under private ownership.
Apart from being able to reach regional Australian areas (the Linga Network has a national expansion in the works), the $0 price tag will certainly be of appeal for EV users, as well as a disrupter for companies that have thus far been charging for… well, charging.
“Until now, charging locations for EVs have been confined to cities and a small number of major travel routes like Sydney to Melbourne, and the market has been largely dominated by private enterprises that operate with disparate and confusing payment systems,” said Kinderis.
Linga Network is able to keep the service free thanks to how it’s covering costs. The manufacturers help cover the infrastructure costs, regional councils take care of installation costs and provide the parking locations, and Linga Network is free to focus on coordinating the roll-out strategy.
Victorian towns Nhill and Rainbow in Hindmarsh Council are to be the first locations for the chargers, their remote locations being key to the accessibility gameplan.
“This is a really exciting step for Hindmarsh Shire and has the potential to change the face of tourism in regional town centres,” said Hindmarsh Shire Council Mayor Ron Ismay.
“Not only does participation in this program make sense for our local economies, it will play an important role in bridging the divide between metropolitan and regional Victoria and unifying our state. It also gives all Victorians a great way to reduce their impact on the environment and it supports local governments to reduce emissions through more sustainable transport infrastructure. We encourage our colleagues in other Councils across Australia to follow our lead.”
Ling Network said car giants such as BMW, Skoda and Volkswagen have shown interest in supporting the project. The rollout is expected to be completed by mid-2021.