No Such Thing as a Free Charge: The NRMA Is Ending Free EV Top Ups

An image of an EV car charging to illustrate the fact EV charging will no longer be free on the NRMA

The NRMA has announced that it will no longer offer free electric vehicle charging across its network of charging stations. The motoring club is shifting to an app-based payment system for EV drivers.

The National Roads and Motorists’ Association, otherwise known as the NRMA, announced on Monday that they would be scrapping the free charging system they have been operating for six years in an effort to remove queuing delays at its service stations.

The organisation runs more than 100 charging stations along major highways and regional-connecting roads in New South Wales and South Australia.

These stations used to be free to use for any EV driver, not just NRMA members, however, from Wednesday, 27 September, payment for use of the terminals will be required through the My NRMA app. The changes will affect three stations at Sydney Olympic Park, Picton, and Wallsend, before rolling out across the entire network by the end of October.

The company has been flagging the changes for a while, with NRMA Energy boss Carly Irving-Dolan telling The Driven‘s podcast in June that the changes would be forthcoming.

Initially, free charging was distributed as something of an incentive to encourage drivers to make the switch to EVs and to strengthen the charging network across the country. However, issues of ‘squatting’ and other poor behaviours have been noted, with long queues at NRMA charging points because of the free juice.

Australian Electric Vehicle Association National President Chris Jones told the Australian Associated Press that many EV drivers were fed up with seeing others use the free NRMA charging stations when they didn’t really need it.

“You’ll see the people who actually need to charge charging their vehicles at those stations now and the people who don’t need to charge will find somewhere else,” he said.

“It’s going to be cheaper to charge your vehicle at home or at work and people should opt to do that as the priority and save people who are in a hurry and genuinely need it.”

The organisation has said that it will charge 54c per kWh for charging speeds of up to 150kWh, and 59c per kWh for speeds of up to 175kWh. By comparison, Chargefox offers 30c per kWh for speeds of up to 22kWh, or 60c for speeds of up 350kWh. Tesla charges 79c per kWH for non-Tesla drivers or 66c per kWh for those who pay the $9.99 per month subscription.

The NRMA is the commercial partner of the Federal Government on their ‘Driving the Nation’ plan which will see 117 rapid charging stations installed on key highway routes across the country. The first of these was opened in Mudgee last month.

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