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The Future of Car Technology

Hawthorn's only publicly available electric car charging station at 20 Williams Street in Swinburne University.

In July this year France and Britain announced plans to phase out petrol and diesel cars, before eventually banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040. Declining air quality and concern for public health have prompted these moves, along with the Paris climate accord targets. These announcements follow Volvo's statement earlier in the same month that from 2019 all their new car models will have an electric motor. Also earlier this year India indicated that they are looking to have no petrol diesel car sales by 2030 and they are working on policies to promote electric vehicles.

The movement toward electric cars is growing. With this growth comes a need for appropriate urban planning. Every electric vehicle must have access to a charging station outside their home in order for electric cars to be a feasible option for the ordinary driver. With current lithium battery pack technology, the range of electric cars such as the Tesla is between 150 - 250km, depending on driving patterns. Here in Melbourne very few charging stations currently exist and this exacerbates the phenomenon known as ‘range anxiety’ among those current drivers of electric vehicles.

Range anxiety arises from a lack of charging ports, causing drivers to worry that the car battery will die before reaching the final destination. A simple solution is to create more charging stations to facilitate the transition to electric cars but unfortunately this is easier said than done. The problem with converting petrol stations into ‘charging stations’ is that the time an electric car needs to recharge its batteries is far greater than the time needed to fill a petrol tank, resulting in a very low car turnover rate and creating congested and inefficient stations. An alternative to this would be more efficient ‘fast charging’ stations, or automated battery pack swapping facilities, and more of them. Glenferrie Hawthorn could take the opportunity to be visionary and at the forefront of urban planning. Perhaps Glenferrie Hawthorn carparks can be equipped with multiple electric car charging stations and help reduce ‘range anxiety’ for drivers. This initiative may attract more customers to the area, who could park their car to recharge, while they enjoy some of the many options the street has to offer.

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