The Shepparton Trip - Solar Citizens

The Shepparton Trip

My phone went off with a buzz buzz, a message from Ben – he was here. With the tray of our shining blue LDV eT60 loaded up, we were ready to set off on our journey, a trip to the regional centre of Shepparton. “Do you want to drive this first bit?” asked Ben. “Absolutely,” I grinned in response.

This was, of course, my first time actually driving the eT60 more than a few metres in the car park. And drive it does! There’s an almost musical hum that increases in pitch as your foot glides down on the accelerator, breathing life into this wonderfully unique car. 

After a few hitches with finding an adequate charging station (including being ICE’d – a Merri-bek City Council diesel ute sitting in an EV charging bay!), we were able to set off on the Hume, northbound. Tom Quinn, the researcher who helped compile the Recharging Ballarat report had kindly put together a playlist for us, which paired nicely with the blazing sun and open roads.

When we arrived at Shepparton’s Museum of Vehicle Evolution, we barely caught a breath before meeting with Warwick Long, a respected and thoroughly friendly journalist from the ABC’s Landline program. Ben took Warwick and Emily, a local farmer, on a ride in the ute and discussed the ins and out of EVs and their suitability for the regions. You can listen to their interview here.

After the interview with Warwick, we took the member for Nicholls, Sam Birrell MP, and his staffer Darren out for a spin in the ute. Through our conversation, it was great to understand how much of an advocate Mr Birrell is for renewable energy and technology, and we really wanted to show him the first of this new wave of vehicles. Mr Birell also addressed the audience at the event and really showed his commitment to his community.

The event itself, run in collaboration with our mates at Farmers for Climate Action (FCA), was a huge success. Despite the sweltering heat, two incredible volunteers cooked up an EV-powered BBQ feast. Ben and I talked about the Roadshow, and then FCA organiser Atienne quizzed EV-expert Russel Klose on how electric vehicles can benefit the regions.

The crowd was curious, engaged, and enthusiastic – sticking around until all the sausages were gone, investigating the ute and asking some great questions. One point that came out from the audience was rather than access to charging, we need to ensure there are reliable charging stations in regional areas where servicing can often be challenging and expensive.

But one experience on this trip really stuck out to me the most. 

On the way back to Melbourne the next day, we stopped off at the Avenel Evie charging station, which sits at a truck stop and petrol station. After plugging in the ute, something unexpected happened. “What the hell is that thing?!” called a curious, yet friendly voice. 

We turned around and a motorbike rider had come over, curious to see what this ute was doing here… and why it was charging! Ben and I explained our Electric Ute Roadshow, why we were doing it, and a bit about charging. “Bloody hell, that’s just as cheap as filling up my bike with petrol!” exclaimed the rider when we mentioned the charge from 5-80% was costing us around $20.

An almost identical conversation happened on the way out after we’d eaten breakfast. A group of men had gathered around the ute, taking it all in. I asked if any of them would consider getting an EV. “If I could get my hands on one of those I would,” one of them said. The others weren’t as open, but curious enough to come and have a look anyway.

These are the experiences and conversations that I’m really excited to be having on this Roadshow. We’re talking to real people, reaching beyond the EV converts. People are curious and want to know more – we now just have to give them the opportunity to come and find out.

Ajaya Haikerwal
Clean Transport Campaigner