As ChargeFox approaches 500 plugs nationwide, its CEO gives us an update on the state of play for electric car charging in Australia.
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New South Wales is the state best equipped for electric cars, says the CEO of Australia's largest provider of open electric vehicle charging stations.

Marty Andrews of Chargefox says NSW is leading the way when it comes to both the density of chargers in populated areas and coverage of the charging network throughout the state.

Since it opened its first charging point in Euroa in 2018, Chargefox has implemented "a touch under 500 plugs around the country", according to Mr Andrews, who explains "there's usually two per site, sometimes more," amounting to roughly 200-250 locations nationwide.

And NSW is leading the charge, as it were.

"In terms of coverage – or how far can you drive across the state [with access to EV charging] – you can drive further in NSW than anywhere else in the country, and that’s also down to the NRMA fast-charging network," Mr Andrews tells CarAdvice.

"When it comes to density of chargers in and around cities, Sydney and Brisbane are both pretty good, but Sydney is winning on that front."

Queensland is a close second thanks to its electric super highway, which Andrews points out is mostly limited to coastal areas, while Victoria also has a solid balance of both charging density and coverage.

Chargefox's current charging network in Australia (as of April 2020)

While the NRMA's charging network has contributed to the widespread charging access in NSW, the state is also paving the way when it comes to policies incentivising electric car ownership.

Earlier this year, the Berejiklian government introduced its Net Zero Plan – part of which involves removing "unnecessary barriers" to electric car uptake, like higher purchase prices and access to off-street charging.

"Before coronavirus we were working with state governments and planning more rollouts to get coverage across the country," Mr Andrews explains.

"Most state governments are starting to form policies around electric cars, as are local councils. [For example] Victoria has a large alliance between dozens of councils trying to increase the rollout of community charging points."

While Mr Andrews says the coronavirus has put most operations on pause, Chargefox opened its newest site, an ultra-fast charging station in Ballarat, earlier this month.

The Ballarat location is number 15 of 22 planned ultra-rapid sites, with Mr Andrews revealing the remaining seven are at "advanced stages" of development.

On top of the 15 ultra-rapid sites, Chargefox has around 50 fast DC charging sites around the country and hundreds of AC charging points. Most of these are centred on Australia's main highways and Mr Andrews says the states without extensive charging networks tend to house the "roads less travelled".

While Tesla has similarly large number of superchargers – roughly 36 sites around Australia, with at least seven more on the way – Mr Andrews points out they are only accessible for Tesla owners, making Chargefox Australia's largest "open" network.

Amid strict lockdowns implemented to protect the public health system, Mr Andrews says the company's current focus is readying the network for a time when Australians are back on the roads.

"We're in planning mode now," he explains, "we will need to stimulate the industry when all this dies down.

"Prior to the coronavirus we were dealing with the bushfires and considering how we can get EV tourism back into regional areas – now we need road tourism everywhere."

But while Mr Andrews says the focus is on the future, he urges EV owners who don't rely on public charging to stay home where possible.

"We’re building this infrastructure so it’s ready for when people are good to go, but now’s not the time to be out driving."