Charging a zero emission electric vehicle

Alternating current (AC) is the most common way to charge a zero emission electric vehicle (ZEV). It is slower than direct current (DC) charging, but it’s more convenient.

All electric vehicles can be charged via a household 240V power point. Charging adds around 12km of range per hour. If the vehicle is plugged in from 5pm to 8am it can potentially add 180km of range overnight.

A longer-term solution is installing a 7kW dedicated charge unit. It will provide 30–60km per hour which is enough to top up most current ZEVs overnight.

A charge unit can be used for many years and different ZEVs.

Charging units

There are many types of ZEV charging units. QFleet recommends agencies to consider longer-term solutions such as installing an AC 7kW dedicated charge unit. It will provide 30–60km per hour which is enough to top up most current ZEVs overnight.

The 7kW, 32amp, single phase chargers are a good option because they are easy and affordable to install. AC charging is limited by the vehicle’s onboard charger. You can install a 22kW AC charge unit, however if the vehicle’s onboard charger is only 7kW, it won’t charge any faster. Current ZEVs feature 6.6–11kW onboard chargers.

To support the use of dedicated charging infrastructure, power supply limitations may restrict the number and type of chargers being used for a particular site. Electrical infrastructure must also be investigated to determine any switchboard modifications needed to support ZEV chargers.

QFleet recommends installing a networked charge unit because it:

  • may provide remote access to monitor charging status and troubleshooting through an online portal
  • report on energy use
  • allow access control via RFID card
  • offer load management and load balancing
  • enable facility managers to better track vehicle usage and charging costs.

Process for installing ZEV charging infrastructure

Before installing a networked charge unit, your agency must:

  • define the cost and requirements to install ZEV charging infrastructure at their premises
  • get building owner approval.

To install ZEV charging infrastructure, you will need to:

  1. Liaise with your facilities team before ordering the vehicle to get in-principle building owner approval before proceeding with further investigations.
  2. Once approval is received, contact one of the providers on the Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Standing Offer Arrangement (SOA) to arrange an inspection of your site. Ensure you have access to all areas such as switchboards.
  3. Based on the inspection, they will provide a quote detailing installation, recommended chargers and site works in line with building owner requirements.
  4. The building owner may ask you to report on the chargers’ monthly electricity consumption.
  5. Your facilities team will submit the information to the building owner and obtain written approval to proceed with the works.
  6. Once approval is received, contact the EV charging infrastructure provider to start work in line with the parameters outlined in the approval.
  7. The requesting department will be responsible for electrical safety maintenance inspections of chargers, cords and plugs, and any other maintenance recommended by the installer.

Other charging options

DC fast charging

DC fast charging omits the vehicle’s onboard charger and puts power directly into the ZEV battery so it can charge at a much faster rate.

Many public charging stations have DC chargers (usually 50kW or more). These types of chargers can provide up to 200km of range in 30 minutes.

However, ZEVs do not charge at a static rate. ZEVs charge slower when the battery level is under 20% or over 80%. It’s most efficient to charge an ZEV when its battery level is between 20% and 80%. The time it takes to charge from 80% to 100% may be as long as the charge from 20% to 80%.

Therefore, it is not recommended to charge a vehicle to 100% while using a fast charger unless you need the range to get to your next charger. Using a DC charger more frequently for shorter periods while the battery is between 20% and 80% is much quicker overall than charging to 100% less frequently.

Public charging and charging on the go

Queensland has over 400 public charge points and the network is growing. Many are free and can easily be found on Plugshare.

Queensland’s Electric Super Highway features more than 30 fast chargers from Coolangatta in the South, to Port Douglas in the North and west to Toowoomba.

Another 18 chargers will be added in regional areas in 2023 enabling ZEV drivers to charge their way to Roma, Longreach, Mt Isa and beyond.

The public charging network is expanding quickly and soon ZEV drivers will also be able to charge at supermarkets, restaurants and public carparks.

Watch how to charge an EV

Common concerns