Kiwis embrace electric cars

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Electric vehicles at the Forsyth Barr Stadium car park in Dunedin for the New Zealand record attempt for the most EVs in one place. Photo: Supplied

ELECTRIC vehicles (EVs) are exploding in popularity, with registrations having more than doubled in the past year.

Last month’s statistics from the Ministry of Transport showed registrations for EVs in New Zealand were growing rapidly, with used imports dominating the market.

In August 2013 there were just 206 EVs registered in New Zealand. That number climbed to 1866 by August 2016 and by August 2017 there were 4541, with 2675 EVs registered in the year to August 2017.

In Southland, there were now 39 registered EVs – 26 of them in Invercargill.

ChargeNet, the New Zealand company installing a network of EV charging stations nationwide, has installed charging stations in Invercargill, Balclutha and Alexandra, and plans to install stations in Winton, Lumsden, Garston, Queenstown and Gore before the end of the year.

Earlier this month, EV owners attended events throughout the country as part of International Drive Electric Week.

Leading the Charge, a community of EV drivers, enthusiasts, and advocates, said on their website New Zealanders first took part in International Drive Electric Week in 2015 with only a couple of events.

For Drive Electric Week 2016, there were more than 20 EV-related events.

This year saw the event’s biggest turnout, with New Zealand record attempts for the most EVs in one place being staged in Auckland and Dunedin.

Dunedin EV Group chairwoman Pam McKinlay said the previous record of 101 EVs was set in Christchurch last year.

“Our [Dunedin] total [for this year’s record attempt] was 135 EVs in one place, just 25 short of Auckland. Last time we did this, we had 28 EVs – only last year – in Dunedin. It seems crazy after seeing everyone out in the car park… but this really illustrates the incredible increase in EV numbers in Dunedin,” she said.

EV enthusiast Jordan Wyatt, of Invercargill, visited the EV World event held in Auckland at the Vodafone Events Centre for the start of International Drive Electric Week.

Mr Wyatt drove a new Model 3 Tesla, an EV set to challenge the popularity of sports car brands such as Mercedes and BMW, he said.

“It’s the world’s fastest [accelerating] car, it goes from naught to 100kmh in 2.4 seconds,” he said.

The Tesla was also amazingly safe, he said.

“The engine is housed by the axles, so if you have an accident… there’s no heavy engine coming through the front to get you.”

The car had eight cameras and could be programmed from a cellphone app to drive itself, he said.

Mrs McKinlay said Mr Wyatt was well known throughout the country for his work promoting the use of EVs. He had jokingly christened Invercargill “Inver-electric-car-gill”, a name now often used by the New Zealand EV community.

EV charging quick facts:

Charge time: 2-3 hours or 20-30 minutes with fast-charger

More than 90% of EV owners charge their EV at home

40% charge their EV using standard (8 amp) plugs

43% charge with higher capacity (15 and 16 amp) plugs

17% charge with wall-mounted specialised charging unit

Cost: around town $3.50 per 100km, highway $6 per 100km

Batteries expected to last 8-10 years

76% of electricity generated in New Zealand is renewable

Range:
Mitsubishi i MiEV 120km around town, 100km open road

Nissan LEAF 130km around town, 100km open road

Tesla Roadster 400km range, or new (2015) battery range 600 km

Tesla S 480km range.

Sources: Flip the Fleet research poll (August 2017); Rev Up NZ

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