Revving Up the Future of Parking

The outlook conference 2023 panel interview.

On October 11, 2023, Parking Australia hosted our bi-annual Conference, Outlook 2023 in Sydney at the International Convention Centre, alongside National Roads and Traffic and eMobility Live – which attracted crowds of close to 10,000 people. As a board director since 2021 and as current President, I was absolutely delighted with the entire event! 

With a theme of “Where to Now – Navigating the Next Turn”, our panels of fabulous presenters and their wealth of deep knowledge gave us insights as to the future of parking. And it’s not just about parking spots to station your wheels, or be a Park Master,  it’s a journey into global innovation, sustainability and international collaboration. And a definite hit, as evidenced by the enthusiasm of our conference attendees.

And we all had some irreverent fun at the Parking Industry Awards that night! Thank you Libbi Gorr!

More on that later!

Sparking Conversations: Alternate Energy in Parking

So here’s the first part of my run down of some of the key insights and takeaways from the Conference. 

Believe it or not folks, there’s a L O T MORE to PARKING than just a parking lot. (Thanks Joni Mitchell for your iconic song “Big Yellow Taxi” !).

With an electrifying all female expert panel (moderated by yours truly), we discussed key areas in utilizing alternative energy for powering our vehicles, in the context of providing greener parking and automotive solutions, driving us towards a sustainable future.

To start, a little background about our sensational guest speakers , Suzana Barbir, Amy Goldenberg and Emma Sutcliffe.

Amy Goldenberg,Head of eMobility, Ampol Australia

Amy is a commercially minded leader with experience in electric vehicle charging, property development and sales. She passionately drives change, delivers sustainable solutions, fosters strong teams, and puts low carbon alternatives in customers’ hands. As Ampol ‘s Head of eMobility, she developed and is now executing the strategy for Australia’s largest EV network ownership. The AmpCharge network will offer customers the full #eMobilty ecosystems, providing reliable, safe and convenient alternative to traditional transport fuels.

Emma Sutcliffe, Founder of EV Firesafe

Emma Sutcliffe, an operational firefighter and EV early adopter, established EV FireSafe, the global database for verified EV battery fires.

Her team, funded by the Australian Department of Defence, collaborate globally to enhance safety for emergency responders. They provide data-driven insights, prioritizing incidents at EV charging sites.

Suzana Barbir, Head of EV Charging and Partnerships, The NRMA

Suzana has delivered The NRMA’s EV charging strategy for NSW delivering in excess of 60 fast charging sites over the last 3 years across regional areas. A passionate advocate for an electric future, Suzana champions the transition to EVs for drivers and communities in partnership with industry. Suzana has over 20 years’ experience in the delivery and operations of emerging technologies and delivering complex transformational programs. Suzana drives strategic, technical, and commercial outcomes, leveraging her multidisciplinary background in engineering, solution development, commercialization, and start-ups.

With our amazing panel, discussions focussed around these topics:

Alternate Energy

While Electric Vehicles is one way to go, what about other alternatives?
Have you considered Hydrogen?
Are any of the alternative energies to power vehicles really making a difference to sustainability?

Alternate Energy: Beyond Just Electric Vehicles

  • The focus is on EVs for now – what about hydrogen? The Consensus is that hydrogen is still at much earlier stages of development than electrification. So far, indications favour hydrogen for long-haul transport like cargo, trucks, fleets, boats, and aviation due to its suitability. Despite a few trial pilots, refueling with hydrogen remains a challenge, making immediate rapid adoption unlikely for now. Also the infrastructure cost for hydrogen refueling is still very high.
  • Currently, electric power dominates the passenger sector globally. As hydrogen technology matures, it’s poised to become ideal for longhaul and large vehicles. Finally, while hydrogen has the lowest tailpipe emissions (just water), what is the source of the hydrogen? Is it sustainably green, or is it brown or blue …. Questions we don’t know the answer to yet.
  • How clean is your green? Same goes for EV uptake. We’re making strides with EV adoption and emissions reduction. Yet, how are we ensuring effective electrification of these vehicles? Using grid electricity tackles emissions, but ensuring green generation is a monumental challenge in itself. We explored using solar power for vast car park areas and cross-country EV charging stations, a focus for NRMA. And Ampcharge is also trying to make each and every site carbon neutral. 

What Do Drivers Want?

What do drivers want? What types of charging is most suitable for different sites. For example, AMPCharge are installing their EV chargers at a variety of locations. Electricity from the grid addresses emissions but demands green generation, a substantial challenge in itself. AMPCharge installs EV chargers at retail shopping centers, demanding a different charging speed requirement in these partnerships. At these sites, drivers desire extended dwell times at the charger, allowing them to shop while their vehicles charge.

EVs and Firesafety

Debunking Myths: EVs and Fire Safety

How Safe are EVs?

The Outlook Conference 2023 Panel Interview

There are a lot of misinformation, myths and scare tactics circulating about Electric Vehicle fire risks and EV charging. And these warrant clarification. There’s a whole lot of “FUD” as they say in the cryptocurrency space – Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. 

  • So this is where I handed over Emma Sutcliffe, sharing her invaluable expertise and extensive research on EV fire safety.

And Emma is first responder firefighter herself, so she is at the front line putting out fires regularly! So let’s get to work with the D A T A that evidences the myth busting we need to do!

  • Let’s start with the hard data. Electric cars are significantly less likely to catch fire compared to traditional internal combustion engine vehicles.
  • Electric vehicle (EV) fires are rare globally, contrasting with the more common fires in traditional gasoline and diesel vehicles. The statistics show this very clearly. Since 2010, EV Firesafe has recorded 393 verified EV battery fires, with additional 95 potential incidents among 10 million vehicles. That’s  0.0012% of electric passenger vehicles caught fire.
  • In contrast, traditional gasoline vehicles have a much higher fire rate, with about 1,529.9 fires per 100,000 vehicles
  • May 2023 data from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) reveals EVs are 20 times less fire-prone than conventional cars.
  • So to all those scaremongers out there, stop spreading FUD about EVs catching fire all the time! 
  • Do EV fires burn hotter? Not usually. But this can vary between make and model.
  • Do they burn longer? Yes
  • Is it harder to put them out? You put them out a different way you need 15,000 L of water rather than 1,500 L.
  • Do they do more damage than ICE vehicles – in one incident in Europe, a petrol vehicle and an EV caught fire at the same place and time .. possibly arson … while the analysis is still to be finalised but the damage to the building appears very similar. The EV did not damage the building significantly worse than the petrol vehicles.
  • EV chargers catch fire: No they don’t –  there are only a handful of incidents around the world where EVs caught fire when connected to a charger and in those situations, the battery had been damaged, in one case it was even a homemade charger that the EV was connected to. EV chargers have circuit breakers and will stop power when there’s a fault.
  • Head on over to EV FireSafe for a mountain of resources, data and correct information across this topic.
  • Another myth – Having EV chargers in your building makes your insurance premiums go up. No, as Suzana Barbir from The NRMA told us, the data so far suggests that there is NO increase to building insurance premiums purely due to installing EV chargers.

Addressing Range Anxiety

Range Anxiety – will you be able to charge your EV when and where you need to?

Amy Goldenberg, the Head of E-Mobility at Ampcharge and Suzana Barbir at The NRMA are the ones addressing this issue right on the nose!

  • Ampol is transitioning to own and operate the largest EV charging network in Australia on its AmpCharge network. AmpCharge will offer customers the full eMobility ecosystems, providing reliable, safe and convenient alternative to traditional transport fuels. 
  • AmpCharge is being rolled out across Australia  both at every Ampol petrol station in Australia over the next several years, and in addition, AmpCharge is co-locating with key retail sites, such as on shopping centre aprons.

The Shift to Paid Charging

And as Suzana explained to us, as a community focussed organisation,The NRMA is ensuring access to EV charging across all regional areas and the more remote areas of Australia.  Part of their commitment to the community. 

Until 27 September 2023, all motorists were allowed to charge for free at all NRMA charging sites. However, NRMA has just begun switching to a paying for charging system. They will implement the transition in stages, starting on September 27, 2023, with Sydney Olympic Park, Picton, and Wallsend as the first locations to introduce the payment system. By the end of October 2023, the remaining 100 charging stations will also require payment. Members can make payments through the NRMA app, making it a cashless transaction.The pricing depends on the type of charger – but for a DC fast charger, you’re looking at A$0.54 per KW.

Renewable Energy: A Core Commitment

And is the energy that these EV chargers are using renewable energy?

  • Both The NRMA and Ampcharge have a commitment to sustainability and in as many locations as possible they are connecting to renewable energy sources. 
  • #Solar panels and solar battery storage systems power all AmpCharge EV chargers and will continue to do so. Large-scale renewable energy certificates from sources like solar or wind power offset excess energy from the EV chargers.
  • The NRMA is connecting as much to renewable energy as possible as well, solar panels with back up to the grid. We set off-peak times as much as possible.At each site, there are assessments of the most suitable power draw to use, consistent with the association’s commitment to sustainable and renewable energy sources.

Outlook 2023 paving the road ahead

The Outlook 2023 Conference was a resounding success, shedding light on the dynamic future of parking and e-mobility. From exploring alternate energies to debunking myths about EV safety, the discussions paved the way for innovation and sustainability in the industry. As we anticipate the next series of our blog, we’ll dive deeper into other facets of the conference, continuing to explore the groundbreaking ideas and developments presented by industry leaders. Embarking on the future of parking and mobility journey, these insights mark the exciting beginning of a promising road ahead. Stay tuned!