‘Scott was wrong!’: Perth family using EV to tow camper around Australia in first all-electric ‘big lap’

Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison famously declared in 2019 that electric vehicles would “be over at the end of the week”.

“[An EV] he won’t pull your trailer,” mr. Morrison told reporters.

“He won’t tow your boat. It won’t get you to your favorite camping spot with the family.”

But one Perth family is on a mission to prove ScoMo and all the other EV doubters wrong.

Tim and Renee McLennan, along with their children Ellie and Xavi, embarked on what they hope will be the country’s first all-electric camping trip in April, towing their custom-built caravan on a 15,000-kilometre detour across the sea. countries using their Kia EV9.

“Scott was wrong!” McLennan says on his website where he documents his journey.

“The electric vehicle will pull our trailer and take our family to fantastic camping spots across the country.”

Mr McLennan, a Department of Health worker who has taken long-term leave, told the ABC in January that the eco-conscious family had already electrified their home and now wanted to try an electric trip across the country, which they estimated would take about nine months. .

“[We] wanted to prove it was possible and start the game,” he said.

The trip, inspired by a similar experience with his family as a 10-year-old, was planned to coincide with the completion of the WA EV network later this year.

The $23 million state network of 98 electric vehicle charging stations at 49 locations stretches from the Nullarbor border with South Australia, through south-west WA, up the coast to the Northern Territory near Kununurra.

The network, operated by state-owned WA electricity corporations Synergy and Horizon, offers fast-charging options approximately 200 kilometers apart along the route.

“Anxiety about electric vehicle range is something that often worries drivers who are unfamiliar with electric vehicles,” Mr. McLennan wrote in a blog post last year.

“When towing a trailer or caravan behind a vehicle, the range (for both EV and petrol/diesel) is reduced, but how much depends on many things, including cruising speeds, driving styles, added weight and aerodynamic changes. With these considerations in mind and some research into the important factors, we found that our Oz electric circuit could be feasible right now, with a little planning and some vehicle preparation/modifications to ensure our success.”

But he added that with ever-improving technologies and options for electric vehicles and the significant rollout of charging stations, “in the not-so-distant future, many things will be easy enough that most of the things we have to plan for won’t even be a consideration.”

The traction problem means that heavy-duty electric vehicles can lose as much as 50 percent or more of their range.

“Until we have an electric vehicle that can comfortably tow 500 to 600 kilometers without draining the battery, it’s not time to tax people who buy utes or SUVs for towing or long-distance travel,” Paul Maric, founder of the company CarExpert.com.au said earlier this year.

“The electric vehicles they want everyone to drive are not capable of towing and people are traveling long distances in diesels.”

The Kia EV9 Earth — the $110,000 all-wheel-drive mid-range version — has an empty range of 500 kilometers, so Mr. McLennan set a goal of reaching about 270 kilometers per charge, which is the current approximate maximum distance between stations.

Realizing that added drag, not just weight, was an important factor, he made a number of aerodynamic improvements to their $57,000 New Age Wayfinder 12F Adventurer, which was also equipped with additional solar panels on the roof.

The McLennans embarked on the first leg of their journey in early April, traveling along the coast from Perth to Carnarvon.

Mr McLennan said the WA EV Network’s fast chargers proved to be “more convenient and easy than expected” and charging speeds were “generally faster than the activity we wanted to do at each charging location”. such as a walk through town or lunch.

That meant he often had to rush back to the car to avoid idle charges — typically $1 per minute when a fully charged car remains plugged in.

In a blog post last month, he described some minor issues syncing the Fox Charge app with the car to pay at one station, which could only be resolved with a call to customer support.

But the first major problem that caused them significant delays occurred at the remote Overlander Roadhouse, about 200 kilometers south of Carnarvon, where an off-grid charger was not providing enough power. The slower charger is said to have a maximum output of 50kW, which would normally mean two-and-a-half hours of charging from near-empty, but has only increased to around 18kW.

“Accepting the fact that we would have to settle for a while, we bought dinner at a road house and played a few games with the children,” Mr McLennan wrote.

The entire Perth-Canarvon leg, which covers about 1,350 kilometres, cost McLennan $188 for public charging at EV Highway locations, which charge 60 cents per kWh.

“With fuel typically well above $2 a litre, this is less than half of what was expected [internal combustion engine] towing fuel costs, despite the reduction in EV range/towing efficiency,” Mr McLennan wrote.

After moving to the NT, the family recently shared some more statistics about their journey.

Fifty-eight days later, their total distance covered was 8,140 kilometers from Perth to the NT border, generally at about 90 kilometers per hour, with a range per charge of between 260-300 kilometers depending on speed, road surface, wind and altitude.

The average total energy consumption on the trip, including shorter day trips without the motorhome, was 3.1 kilometers per kWh, or 32.2 kWh per 100 kilometers.

The lowest efficiency was from Cheela Plains to Tom Price, where driving uphill and into a headwind dropped this to 2.1 kilometers per kWh, while the best efficiency was 3.4 kilometers per kWh between Auski Roadhouse and Port Hedland.

Including the cost of electric campers used for minor recharges, the total amount spent on chargers was $466.

We have reached out to the McLennans for comment.


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