LAKE Macquarie City Council is likely to be the only customer using the taxpayer-funded new $80,000 fuel station being trialled at Morisset's Auston Oval.
Locals raised both queries and eyebrows over the installation which appeared unannounced, without any signage, next to the oval's changing rooms in December last year.
Lakes Mail inquiries revealed the installation to be one of six French-made, 120-amp express-charging facilities installed between Newcastle and Sydney to fuel electric cars at a fast rate.
That rate is 30 minutes for 80 per cent full, giving a typical range of about 70 kilometres.
There are also 46 standard rate (15-amp) facilities scattered throughout the Ausgrid network for electric car users. They are, however, 12 times slower, needing eight hours to charge the car's batteries - a task normally done at home or work.
An Ausgrid spokesman explained the project is all part of the federal government's $100 million Smart Grid, Smart City electric vehicle trial.
And the council has a $48,000 all-electric Mitsubishi iMiev on loan from Ausgrid.
It's one of 20 identical cars leased for use in the electricity provider's trial which includes fleet and personal users.
"Lake Macquarie City Council's trial electric car has clocked up more than 7000 kilometres in more than 430 trips," the Ausgrid spokesperson said.
"The longest trip was 79 kilometres and in one year it charged up 2661kWh of power - about the same as a hot water system. Electric cars perform well on short journeys so they are well suited to the types of local trips made by council.
"The public can use the charging station providing they have an electric car and the appropriate charge card."
A council spokesperson said LMCC had been operating the vehicle as part of the trial since 2010 and agreed it is unlikely to use the Morisset fuelling point.
"Council's electric vehicle is mostly charged at the charge point at council's customer service centre," they said.
Council's community development officer Tony Ellitt is a regular user of the electric car and praised its merits.
"It's great for the type of local driving I have to do from day to day as part of my job," Mr Ellitt said.
"It drives really well and most people can't tell the difference. I would recommend it to anyone."
Trial setting a pace for smart cars
THE Australian government's $100 million Smart Grid, Smart City trial provides a testing ground for new energy supply technologies, gathering information about the benefits and costs of different smart grid technologies across the country.
It aims to create more efficient, intelligent electricity supply and prepare for more cars plugging into the grid in the future.