Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Could Australia's electric car sales take off with shopping centre chargers?

More EV chargers could pop up in places like Chadstone as Vicinity partners with Engie.

Australia’s electric vehicle (EV) charging network is set to expand to popular shopping centres around the country, which could include Chadstone, Northland and Emporium in Melbourne, and Nepean Village, Chatswood Chase and Bankstown Central in Sydney.

Vicinity Centres, owner of the aforementioned sites and more totalling 63 in Australia, has partnered with Engie under the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) Future Fuels fund to build 30 new fast-charging stations, with work set to begin before year’s end.

Exactly where these stations will pop is still unclear, but Vicinity Chief Innovation and Information Officer Justin Mills said the initiative could sway buyers who are on the fence about an electric car.

“The rollout of electric vehicle charging in our car parks will greatly expand the charging infrastructure, paving the way for greater electric vehicle ownership in Australia,” he said.

In the first 10 months of 2021, just 4029 electric vehicles (excluding Tesla who do not report sales numbers) have been sold, making up just 0.45 per cent of the overall new-car sales mix.

However, a Vicinity spokesperson told CarsGuide placing charging stations in frequented locations is crucial for EV owners.

“Installing fast chargers at our centres will provide drivers with the ultimate convenience of charging their vehicle while they browse shops, watch movies or pick up groceries,” they said.

“The concept of charging fitting in with their daily lives rather than making trip to fuel stations will create an attractive option for some buyers.”

In fact, Vicinity claims that two-thirds of the Australian population live within a 30-minute radius of one of its centres, while the DC fast-charging stations set to be installed will allow certain cars to recoup around 80 per cent of charge in as little as 30 minutes.

But rolling out charging stations to shopping centres presents its own problems, such as non-EVs taking up the precious parking space during busy periods like Christmas.

Vicinity is aware of such pitfalls though, and is “working through this with Engie and will take learning from other charging points”, according to the spokesperson.

The shopping centre company is also open to expanding the 30-planned stations to even more, if there is sufficient demand.

“If our customers take an active interest in something and there’s a business case to be made, we’re open to exploring a range of solutions,” the spokesperson said.

“Already this year we’ve progressed our relationship with online retailers by partnering with Click Frenzy and started operating drone delivery in Brisbane – both projects providing value sot customers and retailers, as we hope the fast chargers will.”