'Exciting' EV shift in Aussie market as Tesla owner gets 400km charge for $4.50

As more renewables enter the Australian energy mix, providers are coming up with cheaper ways for people to charge their electric cars at home.

Tesla parked in Aussie carpark while charging (left) and EV owner Ryan pictured speaking to the camera (right)
Tesla owner Ryan is looking to educate Aussies about the increasing benefits of EVs. Source: TikTok/ryanjaycowan

When Ryan Cowan decided to sell his Melbourne home during the Covid pandemic and move to a rural area about 90 minutes outside the Victorian capital, he decided to spend the extra money he saved on an electric vehicle. It was a move he says now saves him about $4,500 a year on fuel and maintenance – and with home charging costs coming down thanks to new schemes from Australian energy providers, the savings are compounding.

"That surprised a lot of people, that we lived out of the city yet opted for an EV, " Ryan told Yahoo News Australia. "But the more kilometres you do, the more it makes financial sense."

While previously working in retail at an Apple store across from a Tesla showroom, he would frequently look out across at the cars before eventually taking the plunge and buying a Model 3, and more recently upgrading to a Tesla Model Y.

Today he makes educational videos about EVs, detailing what really goes into owning and maintaining a battery-powered car.

Ryan believes he's at the front of a wave that's about to crash over Australia. "This is all about to change in my opinion. We're about to see cheaper, more affordable EVs come to the market, including from the likes of Tesla," he said.

In a perpetual hunt to find the cheapest way to charge his car, Ryan said he's changed energy providers "about eight times in the last few years".

One of his videos from 2022, which racked up more than 20 million views, outlined how it cost about 29 cents a kilowatt hour to charge his Model Y at home. But today, he is able to charge it for as little as 8c/kwh meaning he can get a full battery charge, or 400 kilometres, "for about $4.50".

Ryan pictured facing the camera (left) and hjs Tesla dashboard showing a full battery charge (right).
With Origin, he can completely fill his battery at home for less than $5. Source: TikTok/ryanjaycowan

That's thanks to a new scheme broadly rolled out last month by Aussie energy provider Origin which finds the cheapest time for the battery to pull power from the grid when plugged in at home – and something that is now available to all Tesla owners who are customers with the company.

In one video (as part of a paid deal with Origin), Ryan described a full charge as costing less than "90 per cent off the snacks at a petrol station". Speaking to Yahoo, he noted that while using the plan, his car typically wanted to charge during the day, likely when the grid is awash with solar energy, which is fine as he works from home.

"There are other energy companies that offer [cheap] super off-peak energy charging … the difference is we always had to wait until night to charge," Ryan said.

When it comes to Origin's EV 'Power Up' offer, which it promotes as allowing owners to fully charge their EV for less than the price of a coffee, users will need to keep their car plugged in while at home to get the best of the benefits.

Speaking to Yahoo, Brooke Pauwels from Origin's Future Energy team explained users will just need to log into the app, "and if for any reason we can’t meet your target level of charge [at the cheaper rate]… we’ll send you a notification" and users can decide to charge at a higher rate or not.

It's currently only available for Tesla owners but the company is doing "testing with some other brands at the moment". While there is plenty of hype about fast selling Chinese EV maker BYD in Australia, Brooke said BYD models were not currently being worked on for compatibility with the scheme.

"We're approaching some vehicle manufacturers ... I don't think BYD will be the next one on our list," she said. "But we'd love to have them included in 'Power Up' over time."

As more renewable energy comes online, Aussies can expect more affordable and flexible ways to charge their EVs. "Increasingly you'll see more and more providers offering products that incentivise using energy at times when it's off peak or when there's lots of renewables available in the grid, which is a really good thing," Brooke said.

As noted in the poll above, plenty of Australian still have their apprehensions about electric cars.

"There's still a little bit of negativity ... People are concerned about the batteries and the charging," Ryan admitted to Yahoo.

While the upfront cost has hitherto been somewhat intimidating for many Aussie households, the increasing savings compared to petrol cars should be factored in, advocates argue.

"They are affordable when you don't just look at the sticker price and play out like a 10-year period," Ryan said. "Once that sticker price comes down, that's when it really becomes exciting," he added, noting the influx of more affordable models destined for Australia.

"I think it’s an exciting time to start thinking about that switch."

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