Australia's east coast will become a Tesla Supercharger highway

Just like its famed acceleration, Tesla's infiltration of the Australian market is sudden, smooth and silent. With virtually no advertising spend, but a massive investment in infrastructure, the luxury American electric car is on the verge of remaking inter-city travel along the east coast.   

Tesla Australia's Heath Walker says the company has made a "significant investment" in Australia since launching the model S sedan in 2012.

Eight Supercharger stations 200 kilometres apart now connect Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra, with Brisbane to be added before the end of 2016.

The Supercharger is a free connector which takes 20 minutes to charge - Walker calls it the "stop, revive, survive" feature. Along with two service centres and two retail stores the company have installed 180 destination chargers from Broome to Bruny Island.

An electric future

The appeal of the car is obvious: for everyone who wants to save the planet there is another who gawps at the shiny dials and high tech gadgets like a big kid. With a top speed of 225 km/h, a Tesla S sedan goes from 0-100 km/h in 5.6 seconds, has heaps of interior space (no transmission hump), and features leather seats front and back, a 17-inch touchscreen control panel on the dash, traffic-aware cruise control and autopilot, a panoramic sunroof and retracting door handles: it's a sexy beast with or without its zero carbon emissions.

Australian demand is strong. Walker won't give sales figures but admits that if you ordered a model X now (the big Tesla SUV with the fancy gull wings), you'd be looking at a mid-2017 delivery. You'd have to wait till February for an S sedan.

The sharing economy

Forking out 100 grand isn't the only way you can experience the coolest ride on the planet. This being the 21st century, why bother owning at all? You could hire, share, drive yourself or sit back and be driven like a boss.

Car rental company Eveeh will rent you a Tesla S in Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney for $599 the day, or $319 for four hours: perfect for a country drive. Anticipating demand for the Sydney to Canberra route, they supply the car for a set fee of $279 and offer the chance to ride-share the commute on their Facebook page.

Ubiquitous computing

Teslas, according to Walker, are a hardware and software package. The cars' auto-pilots learn from each other so one of the benefits of increased Tesla traffic in Australia will be improved safety. Eveeh already note that 95 per cent of the Canberra-Sydney route can be auto-piloted. Walker anticipates that as more Teslas navigate Australian roads, they will be able to specify which lane, what speed and more detailed information, making the road-mapping software twice as safe as a human driver.

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Eveeh, a play on the acronym EV (for electric vehicle) don't intend to specialise in Tesla. But book a ride with Evoke in Sydney and a late model Tesla S will turn up to chauffeur you where you need to go.

Accelerating sustainability

Pia Peterson, the founder of Evoke, was inspired by Tesla founder Elon Musk's mission "to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable transport" but agrees that it's not necessarily the motivation for all passengers.

"First and foremost it's a luxury car," she says. Onboard freebies include Wi Fi and iPad, phone charger, bottled water and music plucked from your playlist or Spotify. Sydney airport is their top destination, with weddings and corporate events also popular.

Before the year's end Peterson will be adding three Tesla X SUVs to her Sydney fleet and expand next year to Melbourne, thanks in part to an investment by tech entrepreneur and Tesla fan Simon Hackett, founder of broadband provider Internode, now iiNet.

Greener, and cooler

Tesla are credited with being the first company to make electric cars cool. By creating the charger network essential to widespread adoption of electric vehicles, they have also demonstrated their commitment to the new technology. When NRMA-owned hire car company Thrifty introduced the first Tesla S to its fleet at Canberra Airport in late October,  NRMA CEO Rohan Lund called on other states and territories to remove any "unnecessary red tape, fees and charges" holding back the transition to electric vehicles.

Autonomous technology and low emissions are the future for transport in Australia, and for now at least, Tesla is the most energetic player in the Australian market. The revolution has begun.