Leading the Charge

Robin purchased an Electric Vehicle (EV) two years ago and was one of the first locals to install an EV charger in his parking space in the Waverley strata apartment block where he lives. He is passionate about the benefits of EVs and is keen to share his knowledge with the community.

Robin charging his electric vehicle and close up of Marvin charger

I’d lived without a car for a few years and relied on carshare schemes and public transport. However, navigating this became trickier during COVID and with changing family circumstances. So, I did the sums and worked out I could just afford to buy and run the cheapest electric vehicle on the market at the time, an electric MG ZSEV for $43,000. I live in a great location and can walk for short trips, but I appreciate the flexibility a car brings when travelling to visit family and work interstate. Travelling without generating greenhouse gas emissions is also important, as I try to minimise my environmental ‘footprint’. Now, I can drive to Melbourne and charge along the way using Chargefox, whose chargers are powered using renewable energy, and feel good that I am effectively travelling “carbon neutral”.

A definite benefit of owning an EV is how economical they are to run. My car had its 25,000 km service, costing only $160, as it simply required an electronic update. There is also much less wear-and-tear on the brakes, as most EVs use an energy recovery system to slow the car down and recharge the battery as you go. One big surprise is that EVs are so quiet to drive, with no engine vibration, and therefore travelling long distances is less noisy and stressful, and you arrive feeling energised. Finally, I’ve insured my car so that my family and friends nearby can drive it, and they can enjoy and learn from the experience. I’m so grateful that my children can experience fully electric vehicles in their lifetime.

I knew I could initially use local public EV chargers that are part of Waverley Council’s charging network until one could be fitted at home. I purchased a Marvin charger on sale online and procured an installation quote from an electrician. The charger cost under $800, and the installation cost under $1,600, which included cabling, distribution board, labour and testing. I then wrote to the Owners Corporation seeking permission to install it in my private car space.

As this happened before the NSW Government published an EV charger by-law, we engaged a strata lawyer to draft a specific by-law for our apartment block. At an extraordinary general meeting, the Owners Corporation approved the by-law so I could apply for approval. As part of my application, I provided the quote and a visual mockup of what the charger would look like. I was also available to answer questions from the Strata Committee, and once they were satisfied, they approved the installation, which I paid for myself.

I think listening to any concerns from the Strata Committee is important, to work out how to manage each issue such as access, risk or security matters. It is also important to break down issues into short, medium and long-term concerns. Then you can problem-solve the issues according to the timeframe and move forward with the project.

I recognise that Electric Vehicles aren’t for everyone, and people have concerns over the increased cost price, but knowing that I’d have the car for at least four years and with lower maintenance charges and renewable energy available, I could see this made economic and environmental sense.

I’ve recently disconnected my gas heater and replaced it with an electric heater for winter, and I’m looking at investing in an induction cooktop soon to replace my expensive gas hob. Changing all my light fittings to LEDs has also saved a lot of money over the last few years. Within our strata building, the next steps would be to look at the best alternatives for other private or shared electric vehicle chargers, and investigate rooftop solar and alternatives for our centralised gas hot water system.

Editor’s note: New policies and incentives are being developed to support a transition to EVs in strata. Register for updates at the NSW Government’s Electric Vehicle Ready website to stay up-to-date.

You can find out more about charging Electric Vehicles through the Waverley Supporting Electric Vehicles web page.