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22 March, 2022

Charging ahead for the future

ELECTRIC vehicles are becoming the cars of choice, as soaring fuel prices see locals forking out hundreds of dollars to fill up their cars while owners of the electric versions are paying less than $10.

By Rhys Thomas

Mitchell Jeff rey, Fred Birkbeck, Lisa Turner, Tony Turner and Herold Prins with their Tesla’s.

Fuel prices have eclipsed the $2 mark but some motorists are totally unaffected by the rising prices, having traded their combustion engines for batteries, opting for more greener and cost-effective electric vehicles. 

Mareeba resident and local engineer Fred Birkbeak bought his Tesla a year ago and decided to conduct an investigation into the car’s running costs with staggering results. 

“I finished doing an investigation and my car has cost me a total of $126 in running costs in the last year over 10,000km,” he said. 

Julatten resident Mitchell Jeffrey bought his electric vehicle just over a year ago and uses it to commute to Mareeba every day, roughly a 100km round trip. 

Despite the distance, Mr Jeffrey said electric vehicles are highly efficient, as a 7,500km trip he did to northern New South Wales last year only cost him around $280. 

“We are rural drivers, we typically clock up a lot more kilometres than city drivers,” he said. 

“Given that it costs about a quarter (to charge an electric vehicle) of what it would for fuel, that benefit racks up quickly. 

“This car commutes from Julatten everyday so it’s parked in town, the problem is that it comes home at night when we can’t use solar – so those figures are just off our regular Ergon tariff, obviously it would be cheaper if we used solar.” 

According to Mr Jeffrey, a full charge of his Tesla would get him around 500km which would cover a trip from Mareeba to Townsville. 

“Typically, we just stop in Cardwell, get a pie and plug in there and get a little bit more juice,” he said.

While there are charging station dotted round the region and down the coast, like many other EV owners, Mr Jeffrey charges his car at home.

“You can charge your car through a regular wall outlet, but we got a 32amp wall outlet installed by our electrician and that makes it charge faster,” he said.

“The regular wall outlet was good for our 100km daily commute but with the 32amp it means we can come in empty at night and leave full in the morning.” 

Lisa Turner and her husband Dominic use their Tesla for business, carting around hay bales or photography equipment significant distances. 

“We did a job down in Innisfail, we had to take some team photos of sports teams and we left home at about 89 per cent with a big heavy trailer full of stuff,” Mrs Turner said. 

“We got to Innisfail at 34 per cent so we knew we couldn’t get back – we were charging station newbies who had never done it before. 

“We pulled up at a charging station and 20 minutes later we had plenty to go home, it cost us $3.” 

To help encourage Queenslanders to switch to a more green, electric fuelled future, the Queensland Government has announced a $3,000 subsidy for those looking to purchase an electric car to the value of $58,000. 

The announcement was made last week as part of a $55 million package which also includes expanding the Queensland Electric Super Highway. 

Phase three of the Queensland Electric Super Highway will see the existing charging station network expanded out to areas such as Mt Isa, Longreach, Charleville and other regional areas in between.

Herold Prins of Mossman, owned his car for two and a half years – “I’m a biologist so it was definitely in line with the idea about looking to save the future, we’re very selfsufficient.” 

Tony Turner of Edge Hill, owned his car for 10 months – “Purely environmental, just to make a contribution to not produce any fossil fuels.” 

Fred Birkbeck of Mareeba, owned his car for one year – “I’m an engineer and I’m very much into solar – I got an electric car because it’s cheap to run.” 

Lisa Tanner of Chewko, owned her car for eight months – “We were looking for a new run-around business car and obviously we are environmentally friendly.” 

Mitchell Jeffrey (pictured) of Julatten, owned his car for over a year – “I lived in California for a time, 20 miles down the road from the factory and a lot of people were driving them – it just seemed like a cool and normal thing to do.”

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