When running out of power is Dutch for living in the moment

In his 92,000km drive across the world to Canberra, Dutchman and “social traveller” Weibe Wakker has learned to live with the range anxiety that troubles every electric car driver from time to time.

After 92,000 kms and three years away from home, Dutchman Weibe Wakker's electric car journey is nearing an end. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos

After 92,000 kms and three years away from home, Dutchman Weibe Wakker's electric car journey is nearing an end. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos

So much so that he has renamed it “range excitement”.

“I only have a driving range of 200 kilometres; if I run out of power, I see it as an opportunity to find a solution and meet more people along the way,” he said.

Not reaching a desired destination is an obvious issue for those of us who don't have the luxury of Mr Wakker’s very relaxed timetable.

He has been journeying from Amsterdam to Australia for the past three years doing the modern equivalent of living off the land: using social media to find people willing to give him a meal, a bed and a full charge for his VW Golf wagon.

Given it takes 12 hours to recharge the car from a domestic power point and three hours from a commercial point, he's learned to live in the moment.

The journey appeared to go really pear-shaped in Surabaya, Indonesia when floodwaters deluged his battery pack, rendering it completely unable to hold a charge.

However, the indefatigable Mr Wakker simply set up a GoFundMe page to raise the cash to have a technical specialist fly in and fix it.

The kindness of strangers, he says, never ceased to surprise him.

"This was never a race, so the three-day delay in Indonesia was not a problem; a guy came to me and offered me his building to stay in and another guy said I could eat at his restaurant," he said.

"So it all worked out okay in the end."

The Australian leg has proved his most electrically challenging with such long distances between powerpoints so he has had to take an enterprising approach to reaching his target towns.

When Coober Pedy was his next goal 260km away, he waited 12 hours for a tailwind and then trundled along at a power-saving 60km/h, with giant road-trains thundering by at irregular intervals. Despite the conservative approach he still fell 15kms short of the mining town and had to be towed the rest of the way.

Canberra's flirtation with electric transport is poised to become a more serious affair in the next few years when as many as 600 of the full ACT government fleet is turned over to electric vehicles.

Weibe Wakker's electric car has a driving range of just 200kms. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos

Weibe Wakker's electric car has a driving range of just 200kms. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos

Not all government fleet tasks are suited to going electric however, with four-wheel drive vehicles and light commercial transport as the obvious exceptions.

Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury, whose portfolios include sustainability and climate change, believes governments should lead the way in introducing electric vehicles as this would help stimulate the private market and the required level of public charging infrastructure.

Car companies will compete fiercely for the ACT's business as the fleet change-over increases in volume in the months ahead.

The ACT is also aiming to extend the price savings offered by its volume purchase and fleet pricing to outlying councils, such as Queanbeyan-Palerang and Eurobodalla on the South Coast, to assist them in transitioning the council fleets to electric.

Hydrogen-powered cars will also join the ACT fleet later this year, with plans underway to purchase 20 hydrogen cars and set-up of a central refuelling station for the vehicles.