EV Chargers becoming vital to destinations

In Australian Domestic Tourism, Featured Home Page News, Transport

EV chargers are popping up everywhere, with sexy brands like Porsche entering the fray.

EV chargers becoming tourism table stakes

26th February 2022
Tin Dragon cottage in Branxholm, Tasmania, is attracting guests looking for EV chargers

EV charging stations are fast becoming the new swimming pools for hotels and holiday parks, as an increasing number of Australians search for accommodation options where they can charge their electric vehicles, preferably for free, for the trip back home.

An increasing number of businesses, chiefly in the hospitality sector, have responded to the growing interest by installing EV chargers, according to Tim Washington, chief executive of EV charging infrastructure providers, Jet Charge.

“We saw a rising uptake before the pandemic, and then obviously that died down a bit, but it’s come roaring back to life now and there’s a definite trend happening,” Washington says.

“Nobody quite understands just how fast it’s (EV adoption) coming. When you see that EV sales have almost tripled within a year, the reaction as an owner of a business is to go, ‘How do I access some of that?’

‘when people are driving longer distances, they need to charge at the motel or hotel, and they’ll actively seek out the places that provide chargers’

“People are starting to get a real sense now that it’s here to stay, and that it’s no longer a matter of just providing one in a corner somewhere.

“There’s been a heavy push for chargers, especially with hotels and motels and even in caravan parks and camping grounds, because there’s been an increase in road tourism in Australia due to Covid, and that leads to more people requesting EV charging stations.

“When people are driving longer distances, they need to charge at the motel or hotel, and they’ll actively seek out the places that provide chargers.”

Dr Jerry Schwartz, Australia’s largest private hotel owner – whose portfolio includes Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains, The Victoria Hotel Melbourne and Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley – installed EV chargers at several of his rural and city-based hotels as far back as 2016.

Dr Jerry Schwartz, Australia’s largest private hotel owner installed EV chargers at several of his rural and city-based hotels as far back as 2016.
Dr Jerry Schwartz, Australia’s largest private hotel owner installed EV chargers at several of his rural and city-based hotels as far back as 2016.

“Currently I’m putting in charging stations which you don’t have to pay for – it’s just a nice gesture for guests, that they come to hotels and the charging stations are there for them to use,” Schwartz says.

“They receive a lot of usage, and when people look at the amenities a place offers, like a swimming pool and Wi-Fi and things like that, they’re also now looking at whether or not there’s an EV charger available – it’s definitely one of the many features people look for.

“EVs are becoming far more popular so for EV drivers, particularly on longer trips, they’ve got to be able to charge it at the other end. If you go to the Hunter Valley, which is 165km north of Sydney, you’ll want to figure out if you can go there and back without recharging.

“If you’ve got an EV, you’re certainly going to look up which places to stay that have chargers, and those places are going to get the business.”

Joseph Evans, a winemaker and owner at Ballycroft Vineyard and Cellars in Greenock, South Australia, installed two EV chargers after a trip to California in 2015 opened his eyes to the emerging technology.

“I’d go to touristy places in California and you’d always see EV chargers there, and I thought ‘Yep, I’ve gotta do that’,” he says.

Winery owner Joseph Evans with wife Sue, dog Tama, and Nissan Leaf at Ballycroft Vineyard and Cellars in Greenock.Picture: Tom Huntley
Winery owner Joseph Evans with wife Sue, dog Tama, and Nissan Leaf at Ballycroft Vineyard and Cellars in Greenock. Picture: Tom Huntley

“We were the first winery in the Barossa Valley to get them installed, and they’re free, as they run off the solar panels I have set up here.

“This is a generalisation, but people who drive EVs are generally in a higher socio-economic bracket, so they tend to buy more wine.

“But I’ve also had EV drivers turn up to charge for free, and they’ll usually buy wine as a gift for someone while they’re here anyway, so it has been good for business.

“I’ve definitely attracted customers who would have never come to my winery otherwise.”

Having done a “carbon balance sheet” for her 36-acre (14ha) private estate Tin Dragon Cottages in Branxholm, in northeast Tasmania, co-owner Christine Cashion decided to install EV chargers that run on renewable energy, partly to offset the internal combustion-engined vehicles that were being used on the property.

“There were grants being offered by the Tasmanian government to fund EV charger installation, so we applied and got some put in,” Cashion says.

“It was something we wanted to do to promote EV tourism, and I’ve seen people who are EV drivers choose to visit us because they’ve planned a trip around Tasmania based on where the EV chargers are.”

Jet Charge’s Tim Washington thinks people will come to see EV chargers at places that offer accommodation as a form of “special treatment” to be relished.

“If you drive your EV somewhere to stay for the night, there’s already a guaranteed car spot there waiting for you – it’s almost a luxury in and of itself, like a valet service,” he says.

“People like feeling special, and the organisations and destinations that cater to EV drivers and make them feel special, you’ll probably find they’ll see a recurring user base who have higher discretionary spend, and they’ll receive higher ratings on Trip-Advisor.

“Having a charging station also lets people know that the EV revolution is coming, and the businesses that cater to them will already be on the front foot.”

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