Summer EV road trip: enjoying the journey and the destination - Solar Citizens

Summer EV road trip: enjoying the journey and the destination

Over Summer I took an EV camping road trip through Alpine and South Coast NSW with my husband and two sons, to put our new BYD Atto through its paces.

By Heidi Lee Douglas, CEO of Solar Citizens

We “lean-camped” in National Park and Hipcamp sites, lean on gear with just two small hiking tents, a picnic blanket for seating and Trangia for cooking, to offset the abundance of books and favourite board games we took with us. 

With almost 500 kilometres of dynamic range on our BYD Atto, we had stepped up in terms of range significantly from the previously leased 2021 MG EV which provided 250 kilometres in real terms. 

Close to 90% of our driving is city driving, and we minimise driving by favouring cycle commuting, using public transport and working from home. But we also love camping and visiting our friends and family sprawled across the country when we can, so like many Aussies we wanted a car that can handle a road trip. We discovered 500 kilometres is a very comfortable amount of range to road trip, as there is still more than half the charge left when you take a break to charge after 3-4 hours driving. You can easily time your comfort break with topping up your charge at a fast charger. 

From Sydney, we stopped in Canberra for a night to break up the drive and enjoy local New Year’s Eve fireworks on the lake. On the way out of town on New Year's morning we top up our charge for less than an hour at the Australian Mint - a free entry, interactive public museum. 

En route to Thredbo we stopped at Cooma for lunch and to charge, and the destination NRMA charger is beside a cafe which would be a brilliant location but unfortunately for us closed on New Year’s Day. But we simply extended our one

hour stop to two, to explore the neighbourhood whilst we charged and then eat local pies in the main street. 

We then headed straight on through Jindabyne to our Alpine campsite, and spent the next few days happily going back and forth to the mountain bike fields. 

Moving camp south to Bega we stopped in Jindabyne to top up, and this is where our only charging hiccups occurred. Attaching to a new NRMA charger, it didn’t seem to work and there was no explanation until another friendly EV driver walking by told us you had to create a login account. This also didn’t seem to be working, so we called NRMA and they said it would take 15 minutes for an account to be set up. Some signage from NRMA with these instructions would have been very helpful. 

We based ourselves in Bega for a few days for hiking and sampling local produce. We conveniently charged in Bega at a fast charger whilst grocery shopping. Then we headed to Hipcamp site at Tathra, and hiked the coastline in the rain with another day floating around Nelsons Lagoon. We ended that day with a top-up charge behind the Tathra pub, so we could return to Sydney the next day. We maybe could have made it to Sydney on that one charge but we stopped for a top-up charge at Batemans Bay because we needed lunch anyway, and there is a new charger right beside the new Aquatic and Arts Centre and its in-house cafe. 

Here we encountered a couple who were having the same issue with set up with the NRMA charger as we did in Jindabyne. Now it was our turn to help them. This is one thing about EV drivers, they are a friendly enabling community. We even get waves from other green ATTO BYD drivers on our trip - reminding me of my university days when Kombi drivers always waved at each other. 

The total cost for a road trip clocking in at close to 2000 kilometres was $117, which using online calculators for a similar car would have been $257 for fuel. 

Was it a hassle to do a road trip in an EV? You need to stop anyway on a road trip for good health - and we top-up charged more than we needed to because for us it was a way to enjoy the journey not just the destination. It is a great way to connect with where you are, and stopping in the local community and having a bite to eat puts money back into the economy equivalent to what you would normally spend on fuel.