Small business petrol station owners have called on the Federal Government to help fund critical power grid upgrades that would allow them to install fast charging bays for electric vehicles (EVs).

Australian Association of Convenience Stores (ACCS) CEO Theo Foukkare said business owners wanted to offer the renewable energy option, however most were not able to fund the half a million-dollar cost.

“We’ve got thousands of AACS members across the nation that want to go green – but they’re not able to get their hands on half a million dollars on their own.

The Federal Government’s this week released its Electric Vehicle Strategy, which aims to boost supply and demand of EVs, which Mr Foukkare welcomed.

“AACS is supportive of any plan to help Australians reduce emissions,” he said.

“However, we really think a government funded program that helps small business owners to pay for these critical upgrades is essential to achieve that.

“Energy and environmentally conscious Aussies are expected to drive a significant increase in EV sales this year, but right now there are not enough recharge stations to service existing EV drivers,” he said.

“Public infrastructure charging is being rolled out slowly by the federal and state and territory governments, however, most only include slow charging equipment.

“That means they can only be used by two cars at once, potentially leaving other drivers waiting hours before they are even able to plug in,” Mr Foukkare said.

He also warned that the slower charging stations being rolled out by governments often lacked access to basic amenities.

“Australian motorists expect amenities like toilets, a place to sit and eat or enjoy a coffee, free WiFi and even somewhere to do a small grocery top up,” he said.

“Our members already have those facilities – and they employ more than 70,000 people across Australia – so they could certainly do with the extra custom.
“The new EV charging companies don’t understand mobility trends and consumer usage like the convenience and mobility sector does – we’ve have been doing it for decades,” he said.

Mr Foukkare said a grants program would also help to address a “charging void” for the thousands of Australian drivers who do not have the ability to re-charge an EV at home.

“About 25 per cent of Australia drivers don’t have off street parking, so short of running an extension cord from their house to the street – they will need to be able to recharge at a local convenience store,” he said.

Theo Foukkare is available for interview on 0423 003 133.

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