Automotive industry leaders say trailer park operators need to start thinking about the ebb and flow effects of electric vehicles (EVs) and how an increase in vehicle charging demand may affect electricity costs.
- Caravan park operators must consider costs and infrastructure as electric vehicles become more common
- Operators are also considering who will pay for EV charging
- The caravanning industry says car tourism accounted for 75 percent of all regional tourism
The Royal Automobile Association’s (RAA) senior manager for mobility and automotive policy, Mark Borlace, said the RAA looked forward to working with the industry to ensure caravan park operators were aware of the potential costs.
“What we’re saying is that we need to think it through and work with the industry to ensure operators don’t go bankrupt trying to spend too much money on infrastructure,” he said.
Caravan Industry Association of Australia general manager Luke Chippindale said many parks were already thinking ahead, with a focus on their infrastructure needs and financial implications.
“We understand that parks have started to install charging points for electric vehicles and many are doing it from an individual perspective, in terms of having to find a point of difference for themselves,” he said.
According to Mr. Chippindale, car tourism accounted for about 75 percent of all tourism in the regional areas.
Consequently, Mr. Chippindale hoped that governments at all levels would support the development of charging infrastructure across the country.
“Recharging the infrastructure and activating the accommodation sector to install charging points is crucial to help the recovery of regional tourism in the long term,” he said.
“We know that EV owners base their road trip vacations on where they can charge their vehicles and being able to provide that infrastructure, not just on the road, but when they arrive at their destination is a huge thing for regional tourism.”
In South Australia, the RAA received a $12.4 million state government grant to build 140 fast, fast charging sites across the state.
Who pays the bill?
Borlace said caravan operators were also in a unique position to help boost access to charging stations even though the transition to electric vehicles is still at an early stage.
“It’s embryonic… Electric vehicles still make up less than 1 percent of our vehicles on the road, so the industry has a little bit of time to adjust to how they will run their business in the future,” he said.
But Chippindale said installing new infrastructure wasn’t the only change operators faced.
Caravan parks also needed to consider the projected increase in the number of cars drawing electricity from the sites and the indirect effects this would have on how they charge customers.
“Each operator will need to look at it from an individual business scenario, in terms of whether or not they consume from the grid themselves, do they have solar panels that help offset electricity costs, and then that flows into how they charge the end user or to the customer,” Chippindale said.
“Is it taken over as part of the park’s business plan, is there a small fee put on your room, or is it some sort of donation?”
Allan Withers operates the Hillview Caravan Park on the Limestone Coast.
He said he didn’t see many electric vehicles passing through his park now, but he had started to think about his electricity costs and how electric vehicles might affect his business in the future.
“We’re all starting to talk about it now, and we’re starting to see a few more vehicles go by… as time goes on, we’ll see a lot more,” he said.
While Mr. Withers did not operate a dedicated electric vehicle charging station on site, he said customers were free to charge their vehicles overnight.
“We pay anywhere from 26 cents a kilowatt to 46 cents at peak times. When you multiply that, it’s about $12 a night per car,” he said.
“If you multiply it by a dozen cars or more, it adds up quickly… so it’s definitely something we need to look at for sure.”