Environmentally conscious residents are pushing for an electric vehicle charging station at Buninyong to support a transition away from petrol power.
It is a topic that is front of mind for Alfredton resident Jason Panosh who owns an electric car and those considering making the switch.
Mr Panosh said the lack of electric vehicle charging stations across the state meant he could not fully make the switch to electric – he uses his electric Nissan Leaf for driving in and around Ballarat, but owns a second diesel car to make longer trips.
“People talk about range anxiety – how far can you go before your battery runs out – but it is really recharge anxiety – how far can you go before there is no where to charge,” he said.
“As we get more and more chargers that anxiety will go away because you can refill.”
Three electric vehicle charging stations are already set up in Ballarat at Sovereign Hill, Craig’s Royal Hotel and Ballarat Home Centre in Wendouree.
Further afield, charging stations are established in Daylesford, Clunes, Creswick and Beaufort and other major regional centres in the state.
City of Ballarat councillor Ben Taylor said a charging station in Buninyong would help draw visitors who drive electric visitors to the town from places like Melbourne and Geelong.
"Buninyong is a great town where visitors can come on weekends - why not provide charging station so people who have an electric car are not limited with where they can visit?," he said.
"It is a good opportunity for Buninyong to be known as sustainable town."
Cr Taylor said council was working with the Buninyong Sustainability group on plans and budgeting for the charging station.
Mr Panosh said interest in sustainable alternatives was building, as shown by the crowds at the Buninyong Smart Building and Living Expo each year. He will be available to speak to those interested in purchasing an electric vehicle at the expo on Sunday.
A range of electric vehicles will be on display at the expo, including an electric Jaguar.
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Mr Panosh made the switch from petrol to battery in 2016 when he bought his Nissan Leaf second hand.
The car is completely battery operated with no petrol engine and is plugged into a power-point at home to charge each night.
Mr Panosh said his 2012 model had a 100km range, which was suitable for every day driving around Ballarat, but newer electric vehicles would have a range of more than 500km.
He said purchasing a used electric vehicle was accessible to most car owners, while prices for new electric cars remain high, but costs saved in petrol and maintenance costs were significant.
I can’t understand why people aren’t clamouring for them to be honest.Jason Panosh, electric car owner
As the uptake of electric cars increases, he expects prices to come down.
“There are two factors – who is going to build the chargers if no one is buying the cars and who is going to buy the cars if there is nowhere to charge? The charging is where government should start playing a big part,” Mr Panosh said.
The state government announced in October it will invest $2 million to build more ultra-rapid electric vehicle chargers in Victoria, including at least two in Ballarat.
Committee for Ballarat chief executive Melanie Robertson told The Courier at the time of the announcement the chargers would be part of re-imagining transport in and around Ballarat.
“This infrastructure needs to be coming first before people can actually consider it a viable option,” she said.
While interest in electric alternatives is increasing, the idea appears to be catching the attention of younger generations too.
Two young teenagers riding their bicycles on Warrenheip Street in Buninyong stopped to ask Mr Panosh about his car after seeing him demonstrate how to plug in the battery.
Mr Panosh said it was usually seeing the plug that triggered questions from passersby, as most people otherwise didn not realise it is was electric car.
Many, he said, do not notice the car at all – it is quiet and smooth – but he grabs their attention with his fast take off at traffic lights thanks to the battery power and torque.
“From my point of view, I bought a car second hand, it was a reasonably priced car and I can’t understand why people aren’t clamouring for them to be honest.
“They are just so cheap to drive and unlike a normal car where it goes through the gears, it is very smooth, there is a constant noise level that is just about silent and there is no smell, because it is zero emissions. I can’t wait for them to become more widespread.”
The Buninyong Smart Building and Living Expo will be held at Royal Park Buninyong on Sunday February 24 from 10am.