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Power play: St Baker takes on servos in rollout of EV charging stations

Business

Trevor St Baker’s Evie Networks will roll out 300 new electric vehicle charge stations across the major capitals over the next two years, using the technology of Tritium in which he is a major shareholder and chairman.

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Evie chief executive Chris Mills said the rollout will eat away at the dominance of petrol stations by siting the chargers at retail outlets, restaurants and council owned areas.

However, four other players, including Ampol, have also entered the fray under a subsidy scheme from the Federal Government and will roll out about 403 EV chargers nationally. Each of the chargers would be capable of charging at least two vehicles at 50kW or above. About 55 charging stations will be built in Brisbane.

It follows a funding round from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency of $24.55 million to five applicants across 19 projects to expand Australia’s fast charging network for battery electric vehicles.

St Baker’s Evie will get $8.85 million for 158 sites under the scheme and Ampol $7 million. Ampol will deliver fast charging bays at over 100 sites across its national retail network, covering the Greater Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth regions, as well as Newcastle, Wollongong, Central Coast, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Geelong. 

Mills said the rollout will help alleviate “range anxiety” which had held back the EV rollout in Australia.

Mills said ARENA’s funding was a major endorsement and would help the company achieve its mission to build Australia’s largest electric vehicle fast charging network, taking  traditional fuel retailers head-on when it comes to convenience. 

“Instead of locating chargers solely in traditional fuel stations, Evie Networks plans to deploy over 300 fast chargers (min 2 per site), at shopping centres, grocery stores, restaurants and council owned areas to allow for charging wherever convenient. 

“EV drivers will be unchained from travelling to the petrol station to refuel their car.

“Fleet operators and private drivers can now confidently transition to EVs knowing they are supported by the most heavily funded EV charging operator in Australia.. 

“We also want to provide a high-quality charging experience, so sites are required to meet minimum standards, which include 24/7 access, high security standards, adequate lighting and on-site amenities.

Evie Networks has placed a multi-million-dollar order for the supply of fast-charging equipment with Tritium, the Brisbane-based EV charging manufacturer and also part owned by the St Baker Energy Innovation Fund. 

Tritium recently announced a $1.8 billion merger with a special purpose acquisition company in the US and a listing on the tech-dominated Nasdaq index.

The sites developed through the Future Fuels Fund investment will also complement Evie Networks’ planned highway network, which includes 42 ultra-fast charging sites linking the major capital cities. 

ARENA chief executive Darren Miller said the increased funding pool will significantly expand Australia’s fast charging network and remove barriers to the uptake of EVs.

“As the costs of electric vehicles come down, more consumers and fleet users are looking to go electric. Expanding the fast charging network will make it easier than ever to drive an EV in Australia,” he said.

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