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Are Electric Vehicles Beneficial in New Zealand?

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 20
Charging up the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle)

[Updated: 8 May 2017]

You’ve most likely heard of the BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, or a Tesla vehicle. The common denominator between these vehicles is that they are all electric vehicles. This means that you have to plug them in at least every two days to “fill up” the car. However, with an average range of about 130KM on a full charge, are they beneficial for New Zealand owners?

Electric cars have been making the rounds lately, firstly because how expensive petrol is getting, and secondly, everybody has been talking about how to save the environment from more carbon dioxide emissions.

A big topic on the news recently is how the government has proposed an Electric Vehicles Programme which covers incentives on why you should own an electric vehicle. One of the incentives include how light electric vehicles will not have to pay road user charges, until they make up two percent of the national fleet. I wonder how long that will take! So just remember that once the 2 percent has been filled, the government will most likely start to impose taxes upon EV users.

The average New Zealander apparently drives around 29KM a day. If you happen to be in Auckland where the traffic is a menace, I’d add on a few more KMs to that for combustion engines to compensate for the petrol burned while sitting in traffic. I’m in Auckland and my daily drive consists of about 50KM, and get stuck in traffic. With an all electric vehicle with an average range of 130KM, I should technically be able to go two days without having to recharge the batteries. For the “average New Zealander”, they should be able to go 4 days without recharging, but we all know that ranges can vary quite a bit, so perhaps we should decrease it to 3 days. It’ll still be best to charge it every night though.

That brings us to charging your electric vehicle. On average, it will take around 6-8 hours to fully charge an electric vehicle with a 9.8kWh battery, on a regular 230v household plug. While for daily use it would suit most New Zealanders very well as they can just charge it during the night, New Zealanders love their road trips. So the average electric vehicle will not be suitable for road trips as of yet. Let us wait for the Tesla to get here!

There are a couple of “speeds” so to say, to charge an electric vehicle. There are three levels of standing charging systems available: Level 1 is your regular NZ household power point (with a maximum of 8-10 amps), Level 2 has the same amount of voltage as the NZ household power point, but with a maximum current of 32amps, and Level 3 are what are known as the ‘Super Chargers’, which has double the amount of voltage, 480v, and a lot more amperage than Level 2.

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 21

New Zealand does not yet have an established ‘Super Charger’ network like they do in countries with an official Tesla presence, but with the Model 3 hot on NZ’s heals, Tesla have said that they will be expanding their Supercharger network here. I can’t wait until Tesla make an official presence in New Zealand!

However, there are still various EV chargers around in New Zealand. These chargers make up the varied standards in electric vehicle charging. The more common plug is the Type 1 (aka J1772) as fitted to most EVs for the NZ market.

If you want the best of both worlds, a PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) would be the better option for you. These vehicles have a motor engine and an electric motor combined to help you save on fuel. They are similar to hybrid vehicles such as a Toyota Prius, but PHEVs require you to physically plug it in to charge the vehicle. Check out my Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV review to see how I fared with driving an electric vehicle for the first time!

Are electric vehicles beneficial to New Zealand? I’d say in the long term, yes. Once we get a wider range of EVs, better charging station networks in NZ, better EV infrastructure and better government support. With an electric vehicle such as the BMW i3 (with a 22kWh battery), you could easily do an average drive of say 50km each way, and you should still have a bit of juice left. (Mind you all BMW i3s in NZ come with a range extender which will run on a small tank of fuel.) The range of EV vehicles are also lacking at the moment in NZ, and so are charging stations around New Zealand.

Do you think electric vehicles are beneficial to New Zealand? You too can help promote electric vehicles in NZ, to create awareness and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for our environment. Let’s help shape the future of New Zealand! Do you agree with an EV future?