News / Environment

High voltage: electric vehicle use soars in Brunswick

Council-owned Edward Street charging station is one of Australia’s busiest

Tesla owner Alex Bowes is a regular user of the Edward Street charging hub.

Mark Phillips
Monday, May 3, 2021


A CHARGING station in Brunswick is one of the most used in Australia as electric vehicles boom in popularity in Melbourne’s inner north.

The Edward Street car park near Sydney Road attracts the highest number of sessions of any charging station in the national network of Australia’s largest EV charging network, Chargefox.

Opened in July last year it is home to the newest of the 16 free public chargers owned by the City of Moreland and managed by Chargefox.

Since opening, the three plugs have had more than 2300 sessions, or an average of about 8.3 a day, which was the most for any in the Chargefox network.

While the Victorian government battles a backlash from drivers and car makers over its controversial EV road users tax, Moreland Council is winning plaudits as a national leader in facilitating electric vehicle usage.

With transport contributing a quarter of all emissions in Moreland, encouraging motorists to switch to electric is a key plank in the council’s strategy to transition to zero carbon by 2040.

In addition to accumulating a staff fleet of EVs, the council has been rolling out charging stations in the car parks it owns around the municipality for a decade. The chargers are provided for free by the council.

Moreland installed its first public charging station in 2011 at the Coburg Town Hall and there are now 16 plugs across the municipality, the highest number of free-to-use public EV chargers owned and operated by council in Victoria. All electricity used to charge vehicles is renewable, sourced from the Crowlands Wind Farm.

They are experiencing phenomenal growth from less than 10 charging sessions a month in 2018 to 725 sessions across the network in March this year.

Since acquiring its first electric vehicle in 2013, the council now has a fleet of 25, each saving an estimated 2.5 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

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Nick Franco, business development manager at Chargefox, said Moreland had long been regarded as being at the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution.

“We often say Moreland is setting the benchmark for councils around Australia and they’re blazing a trail for others, not only on EVs but all sorts of sustainability initiatives.

“They’ve got 16 public plugs which are all available to drivers within the Moreland municipality so the coverage is incredible, they’re 100% wind powered and they also provide it for free which is quite amazing. And they’ve got 25 EVs in their own fleet as well.

“They really have pulled out all the stops.”

Mr Franco said the Edward Street charging station had been busy from the moment it opened last year.

“We’ve got 900 public plugs around Australia and the fact that Edward Street is the busiest is pretty amazing,” he said.

“They’ve got quite a few other chargers in Moreland and they’re all really well used but the Edward Street one is phenomenal.

“The amount of traffic that goes through it is amazing. It’s got two fast chargers there which are the best you can have, it’s got great hardware, and it’s in a great location close to the Sydney Road shops, gyms and the pool which was a top choice by the council.”

Moreland Mayor Annalivia Carli Hannan, an EV driver herself, said the council’s data showed a promising trend towards EV usage.

“The hub’s usage data shows there’s local uptake and appetite for electric vehicles and EV infrastructure. It also shows that having this infrastructure in place can attract people to the area which will help boost our local economy.

“I myself drive an electric vehicle. I love knowing that when I need to charge, there are free, easily accessible places for me to charge up quickly and conveniently across Moreland. It’s also a great feeling knowing I’m reducing my carbon emissions and helping the environment.”

Among the regular users of the Edward Street station is Brunswick East resident Alex Bowes who drives a Tesla Model 3.

“This is our go to hub,” he said while charging his car recently. “We would use it at least once a week depending on how much we drive it.

“It’s been brilliant because we live in an apartment building and when we bought this car we really weren’t sure if we were going to get away with not having a charger at home but the fact the council has done this is super convenient and means there will be a lot more take up of electric vehicles.”

Another regular user is Essendon Tesla owner Brad Canning who also likes the convenience of being able to leave his car charging while he shops in Sydney Road.

“For me, when I was looking at purchasing it, having the option where it’s charged for free helped in selling it to me. When I tell people about it, it sounds a bit too good to be true. It’s awesome, especially because it’s powered with zero emissions.”

Mr Canning said he hoped more public infrastructure like Edward Street would become as common in Australia as it is in many countries overseas.

“When I tell people about it, it sounds a bit too good to be true,” says Brad Canning.

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