NZ Electric Car Guide

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By Sigurd Magnusson, Wellington, NZ. 3 October 2017. Updated monthly. Download latest from www.electricheaven.nz

Questions, corrections, feedback to sigurdmagnusson@gmail.comor 021 42 12 08. Please share this document.[1]

Fully Electric Cars

These are cars that move using a large electric battery powering an electric motor. They do not take any petrol. Also called Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), they produce no exhaust, which is far kinder to the environment – petrol and diesel transport produce 18% of New Zealand’s greenhouse gases.[2] 80% of New Zealand electricity is generated by rain (hydro dams), geothermal, and wind[3], so the source of the car’s fuel is environmentally friendly, and inexpensive, and produced locally (We import over a billion dollars of petrol and three billion dollars of crude oil from overseas each year[4] and local electricity generation is cheaper). A 2015 government study shows electric cars also have environmental benefits versus petrol cars when the full lifecycle of manufacture, use, and disposal are assessed, and that the ingredients like lithium in batteries, aren’t scarce.[5] Each year, an estimated 256 New Zealanders prematurely die from harmful diesel and other vehicle emissions[6] (similar to the number who die in crashes) and this would reduce by driving electric vehicles.

Electric cars have no clutch or gears, and accelerate more quickly and smoothly, in a “sporty” way, and climb hills easier than petrol cars. A fully electric motor has fewer moving parts, no spark plugs or engine oil, and requires less maintenance than a petrol equivalent. Such cars are extremely quiet and reduce noise pollution. Travelling down hills or braking recharges the batteries, and is known as regenerative braking. The motor uses no energy when the car is still.

Electric cars are safe, reliable, manufactured by large brands, and are beginning to be sold in high volume globally. Norway, with a similar population and size to New Zealand, is a global leader, with over 40% of new car sales now fully electric or plug-in hybrid (a further third sold are hybrid).

The dashboard displays how far you can drive with remaining battery. Entry-level electric cars have a shorter range (100km+) than petrol cars. High-end cars with large batteries (500km+ range) cost more. Battery prices are dropping significantly (80% drop from 2010 to 2016[7]), making electric cars steadily cheaper. On average New Zealand drivers travel 28km per day[8], and 95% of days within 125km5. Electric cars can be charged at home overnight and be ‘full’ in the morning, so affordable electric cars are practical for most daily journeys. The census shows over half of New Zealand households have two or more cars[9], suggesting many could own a cheap electric car and keep a long distance fuel car.

Since 2016, electric car prices and models in NZ have improved. Electric cars here are mostly cheap, imported short-range Nissan Leaf hatchbacks. Increasing numbers of other makes and models are arriving, including large, long-range, high performance cars by Tesla, the global leader in electric cars. The first long range/mid cost electric car here will be the Tesla Model 3. Available overseas now, it will likely arrive in NZ early 2019, as 500,000 pre-orders are being built. Automakers including Nissan, BMW, VW and Volvo, say they will each sell over a million electric cars globally within the coming decade. All Volvos will have electric motors from 2019[10]; VW’s 300 models will all have an electric version by 2030[11].

types of vehicles

* Some manufacturers also call this a Range-Extended Battery Electric Vehicle or REX.

Plug-in Hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs)

These have both an electric and petrol motor, but with the added feature that they can be plugged in at home or wherever there is an electrical socket. This lets you drive short distances electrically, at low cost and without pollution, and long distances using fossil fuel, avoiding the need to frequently recharge. These vehicles also have regenerative braking, which captures some energy that would be wasted as braking heat. They cost somewhere in the middle between affordable (short range) and expensive (long range) fully electric cars. The drawback of plug-in hybrids is a complicated engine requiring maintenance, petrol refueling costs, air pollution, and engine noise.

Depending on the model, the fossil fuel engine will either help the electric motor turn the wheels (“parallel PHEV”) or only recharge the battery (“series PHEV”) but some can do both. A few can drive a reasonable distance electrically; most have very small batteries that don’t drive far. As battery prices drop, plug-in hybrids will be replaced by full battery electrics.

What we used to call Hybrids no longer count

Cars such as the non-plug-in Toyota Prius Hybrid found in this country over the past decade are different–they can not be plugged into an electric socket to recharge. They can only fill up on petrol, and use the petrol engine and regenerative braking to recharge a small battery that gives a short (1-2 km) electric range. A plug-in vehicle has many more benefits.

What about hydrogen?

There has been an ongoing debate about whether the long-term future of cars would use hydrogen fuel cells or stored electricity (i.e. batteries). While hydrogen vehicles can recharge quickly and drive long distances, the challenge is that hydrogen is made by splitting it out of natural gas (which releases greenhouse gases) or water (which requires vast amounts of electricity) and the hydrogen then needs to be pressurised, stored, and transported, even though the vehicle still has an electric motor. Battery electric cars by contrast are safer (no explosive gas), simpler, use less energy, and it is a quarter of the cost to generate electricity, send it through the electrical grid, and recharge batteries. Hydrogen cars are not sold here, and are very limited globally.[12]

Common electric cars in New Zealand[13]

Car(and if battery electric or plug-in hybrid)

Seats

Electric Range

Battery

(kWh)

0-100, Power

Fast Charge

Cost ($000)

used - new

# in NZ

Nissan Leaf (Fully electric)

5

2011-17 models:

117 km Gen1

135 km Gen2

172 km Gen2

2017-18 models:

240 km

~350 km (2018)

24

24

30

40

60

9-10 secs

80kW 110hp

-

110kW 147hp

Yes

$10k - $50k used

(Used imports from Japan & UK are abundant. Timing & cost of 40/60kWh version TBC.)

2196

Mitsubishi Outlander(Plug-in Hybrid)

5

40km electric

+

700km petrol

12

11 secs

120 kW (180hp) +

2L engine.

Yes

(but is an optional extra)

$32 - 60k

785

BMWi3(Full Electric OR Plug-In Hybrid)

4

Generation 1:

130km

Generation 2:

183 km

(+116 km petrol range if plugin hybrid)

22

33

7 secs

125kW (168hp)

Yes

(but is an optional extra)

$40 - $85k

264

(58 are BEV)

Tesla Model S (Fully Electric)

5

(plus 2 kids as option)

416 km

to

507 km

75

or

100

4.2
or
2.7 secs

(Ludicrous upgrade)

568 kW

(762 hp)

Yes

$113k + optional upgrades

(Buy from NZ section of www.tesla.com)

153

Nissan e-NV200 (Fully Electric)

2, 5, or 7

121 km

24

11 secs

80kW

(110hp)

Yes

$30k+

(Imports only)

135

Hyundai Ioniq (Full Electric OR Plug-In Hybrid)

5

219 km

(Or, if PHEV, then 30km electric range + hundreds of km petrol range)

28

10 secs

88 kW

(118 hp)

Yes

$60k

102

Tesla Model X (Fully Electric)

5, 6, or 7

383 km

or

465 km

75

or

100

5.2

or

3.1 secs

(Ludicrous upgrade)

568 kW

(762 hp)

Yes

$129k+ optional upgrades

(Buy from NZ section of www.tesla.com)

84

Mitsubishi i-Miev / Peugeot iOn(Fully elec.)

4

100 km

16

13 secs

49 kW

(66 hp)

Yes

$12k+

(No longer sold new; import only.

The Peugeot is higher spec.)

65

Renault Kangoo(Fully Electric)

2 or 5

Generation 1:

~100 km

Generation 2:

~150 km

(Manufacturer claim, not EPA)

 

22

 

 

33

44 kW

(60 hp)

No

$75k

36

Renault Zoe(Fully Electric)

5

Generation 1:

~ 140 km

Generation 2:

~ 280 km

(Manufacturer claim, not EPA)

 

22

 

41

13.5 secs

65 kW

(88hp)

No

60 min to 80% AC recharge available

$30k

$40k

(UK import)

31

VW e-Golf(Fully Electric)

5

Generation 1:

133 km

Generation 2:

201 km

 

24

36

10 secs

85kW

(115 hp)

Yes

$40 - 62k

22

Kia Soul EV (Fully Electric)

5

150 km

31

11 secs

81 kW

(109 hp)

Yes

$35k+

(Imported. Not sold new in NZ)

16

LDV EV80 (Fully Electric)

3

Estimated

150+ km

56

100 kW

Yes

(but NO
slow charge)

~ $80k

(or $75k with cab & chassis only)

1

Order now for late 2017 delivery

Tesla Model 3 (Fully Electric) COMING

5

346 km

or

500 km

~ 50

or

~ 80

5.6 secs

5.1 secs

(faster AWD model coming)

Yes

USD 35k+

or

USD 44k+

(plus GST)

None

Order now for 2019 delivery.

The following plugin hybrids are available for purchase in NZ and offer less than 30km average electric range:

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron (Hatch)

$70k

85

Audi Q7 e-tron (SUV)

$158

4

BMW 225xe (Hatch/SUV)

$68k

26

BMW 330e (Sedan)

$90k

8

BMW 740e (Sedan)

$199k

3

BMW X5 xDrive40e (SUV)

$149k

16

BMW i8 (Sports)

$276k

31

Mercedes Benz C 350 e (Sedan or Wagon)

$96k or $99k

15

Mercedes Benz E 350 e (Sedan)

$143k

-

Mercedes Benz GLE 500 e (SUV)

$150k

8

Mercedes Benz S 500 e (Sedan)

$255k

1

Porsche Cayenne S e-hybrid (SUV)

$175k

21

Toyota Plug-In Prius (Hatch)

$40k (used)

121

Volvo XC90 T8 (SUV)

$134k

33

3427 full electric + 1407 plug-in hybrid + 75 heavy electric vehicles = 4909 total

(Includes small numbers of other makes and models, and home-conversions, and ~400 Paxster full electric buggies used by NZ Post)


Further electric models coming between 2017 - 2020 to New Zealand:
30 full electric + 25 plug-in hybrid models

(Source: New Zealand Motor Industry Association - Manufacturer Survey, updated mid 2017. mia.org.nz/Documents/ )

How far can you drive before recharging?

Automakers and dealers advertise the distance cars can drive, however these can be exaggerated. A good information source is the “EPA Range” (fueleconomy.gov). The US government test-drives cars in a consistent manner to determine how far the battery lasts on a typical journey mixing highway and suburban driving. (A similar European “NEDC” electric car range test is less useful because it states long distances that can never be achieved with normal driving.)

Several situations will result in a car using up its battery before reaching the EPA range: e.g. frequent acceleration, big hill climbs, high speeds, constant aircon or heating, headwinds, towing a trailer, and an old battery. Conversely, travelling slowly or staying on flat terrain can often let you drive further than the EPA figure.

When planning road trips, talk to other owners of your car model about how mountains, headwinds, and other factors drain your battery along your specific route, and how much battery you need to confidently reach destinations. The pictured GreenRace tool at jurassictest.ch/GR/ can give you an rough idea.

Expensive upfront; cheaper overall

Electric cars are currently more expensive to buy new than fuel vehicles, largely due to high battery prices and low production volume. This is expected to change within 10 years, at which point it will be cheaper for car manufacturers to build electric cars than fuel cars.[14]

Travelling by electricity is cheaper than petrol: EECA calculates it is equivalent to 30 cents a litre, about 7 times cheaper than petrol.[15] Driven regularly, an electric car can save you a few thousand dollars a year, quickly paying off the higher car purchase price. Fewer moving parts means electric cars have less maintenance cost. See calculator: eecabusiness.govt.nz/tools/vehicle-total-cost-of-ownership-tool/

The cost of electricity varies more than petrol. Recharging with electricity can be free (if your employer or a friendly business or council is paying instead of you!), low cost (overnight off-peak electricity rates are cheaper than daytime, if you select a good plan or provider), or higher cost (if you recharge during the day, or are paying to use a fast-charging station).

Assuming you commute 40km a day, you would probably need about 8 units of electricity (kWh) to recharge. At a low overnight rate of 11 cents per kWh this is $0.88 a day. Overnight charging is good for the national electricity grid because it is at its lowest demand, meaning the power is likely generated with renewables, not coal and gas. If your car has a smart timer, set the ‘End charging time’ to just before 7am, so your battery isn’t full for long, and so it randomises the start time, which makes managing overall electricity demand easier for the power companies.

Global leaders & government policy

Many governments are forcing automakers to sell electric cars in order to meet climate change and air quality goals, and in response to diesel emissions cheating. All new cars soldare expected to be electric from 2025 in Norway and the Netherlands, 2030 in Germany and India, 2032 in Scotland, and 2040 in France and Britain[16]. Others have interim goals: 12% of cars sales in China by 2020; 22% of car sales in California and New York by 2025. Over 200 European cities have low emission zones where fuel vehicles are barred entry or pay fees (e.g. Paris, London). The US has forced VW to spend $2B on hundreds of car charging stations in USA[17]. China is working towards 5 million charging locations by 2020[18].

Norwegian electric car adoption[19]

Norway has the greatest incentives globally, and has a similar population, land size, and vehicle count as NZ, but higher proportion of renewable electricity. Norway charges a ‘pollution’ tax on fuel vehicles (up to $40,000, based on emissions and weight) and a discount on electrics (-$10,000). Electrics also don’t pay any 25% sales tax, and have halved fringe benefit tax, free use of bus lanes, toll roads, urban street parking, and charging stations. They now have 160,000 electric vehicles (120,000 fully electric) and 9000 charging points. This is much better than its neighbours, e.g. Danish sales plummeted in 2016 after introducing a tax on electric cars.

NZpolicies and growth

Electric car numbers here are low but doubling each year. If all 3 million light vehicles went electric this will demand 17% more electricity, which can be met with renewable power stations that have consent to be built.[20]

In 2016 the government released an electric vehicle ‘package’ with a publicly stated target (a doubling of electric vehicles every year to 64,000 by 2021, about 2% of all vehicles, and about one in eight cars entering NZ being electric), a $1M/year (for 5 years) nationwide education and promotion campaign led by EECA, offering money to co-fund projects that aid electric car adoption (fund pool is $6M/year; next round is early 2018), considering electric vehicles to drive in specific bus or high-occupancy vehicle lanes, and efforts across government agencies and business to support: bulk purchase, public charging infrastructure, and decision-making. From April 2017 Inland Revenue has supported electric cars with a higher per-kilometer ‘mileage rate’, and is considering changes to fringe benefit tax and depreciation. From July 2017 the motor vehicle registration fee for electric (and plug in hybrid) cars was reduced to about $75 per year, the same as the safest (and thus lowest price registration) fuel vehicles.[21] See www.electricvehicles.govt.nz.

The government does not charge road user charges (RUCs) on electric vehicles. These save an electric car owner $620 versus a small diesel car if driving 10,000km a year. This exemption began in 2009 for light vehicles, and will continue until light vehicles reach 2% of the fleet. For electric vehicles over 3 tons (buses and trucks), RUC exemptions are expected 2018 through 2025.

NZ is one of few countries in the world where it is very cheap to import used vehicles; this makes usedelectrics also cheap to import. Used electrics from Japan and UK are cheaper still, as their governments subsidise their purchase cost. A 2015 report on electric car policy was published by Barry Barton at University of Waikato[22]. It compared electric vehicle growth in different countries, and determined New Zealand would benefit from a cost-neutral “feebate” scheme, used today in France. This is where the government adds a cost to buying “dirty” cars and uses that money to reduce the cost of electric and fuel-efficient cars. The report noted NZ is one of the only countries to have no fuel efficiency standards, which place costs or restrictions on buying high emission cars. Other parties have proposed policies.[23]

Electric vehicle adoption is supported by an industry (DriveElectric.org.nz) and owner association (BetterNZ.org). Some large NZ businesses have said they will make a third of their cars electric by 2019[24]. While few councils have electrics in their car fleets, a couple now have a policy to buy them[25].

Charging your car

A new unit of measurement

We use kilowatt-hours (kWh) not litres to measure electricity, so you’re unlikely to talk to electric car drivers about dollars per litre, and instead hear them discuss:

  • cents per kWh, the cost of electricity; determines the cost of travelling and charging
  • km per kWh, similar to ‘miles per gallon’, or how far you’re driving for a unit of electricity
  • kWh as a size of battery, which gives you an idea of how far you can drive (range)
  • kW as a speed of charging, and, also, speed of draining your battery
    (A 30kWh battery should take around 10 hours to recharge with a 3kW charger.
    Driving at 15kW will drain a 30kWh battery in two hours.)

Depending on driving style and car, you can usually expect to travel around 5 to 6km per kWh.

Most car charging happens overnight. A study of 8000 U.S. electric car owners showed 85% of charging was at home, much of the remainder at work, and occasionally elsewhere.[26]

The regular 230 volt AC electricity in our homes, and the regular socket we use for all household appliances is all you need to recharge your car, though dedicated equipment is faster and safer. The electrical safety regulator, WorkSafe, has guidelines on its website about what is required and recommended for domestic and public electric vehicle charging equipment, sockets and wiring.[27]

Normal 3 pin socket (S3112)

8-10 amps, single phase AC 230V

1.8 - 2.3 kW

10km+ per hour recharging

100km takes 10 hours[28]

This is what you find throughout New Zealand homes. For most people, it is sufficient to charge their cars overnight during low-cost off peak hours (11pm-7am). It is too slow to be very useful for daytime recharging, and won’t give you much more than a 100km top-up overnight. This socket is probably what you already have inside your garage at home. If your car doesn’t come with a cable fitting this socket, you can purchase a portable 8 amp unit from various sources including bluecars.nz/shop.

Note: Read WorkSafe guidelines for restrictions about this socket outside of a domestic environment, and restrictions from using the 15 amp variant of this socket (which can get too hot).

Blue Commando (IEC 60309)

16 amps, single phase AC 230V

3.7 kW

18km+ per hour recharging

100km takes 5 hours

These are the plugs found in campgrounds all over the country, used by campervans. Having a connector for this socket lets you recharge in many locations around the country, and allows a higher current, faster charge. You can get an electrician to fit this socket at home. The thick metal pins are well suited to repeated, prolonged use and rugged outdoor conditions, and won’t heat up as easily, reducing fire risk. One source for these cables and sockets is bluecars.nz/shop.

Unless a car is parked for many hours, this is rather slow for daytime recharging, but it is a very low cost solution.

Note: Read WorkSafe guidelines for restrictions about installing this socket outside of a domestic environment.

Dedicated “slow” charging station

15-40 amps single phase AC 230V

3-9kW

18-45km per hour recharging

100km takes 2-5 hours

Or

32 amps, three phase AC 415V

22kW

110km per hour recharging

100km takes just under an hour

For around $800 or more, you can buy a dedicated wall-mounted charging station[29]. They are safer, more robust, and charge faster compared to regular wall sockets, so are the ideal option for homes, businesses, and public locations. WorkSafe guidelines indicate standards you should look for in a product. Some take payment, have timers, or can connect to a smartphone.

The unit will either come with an attached cable, or just a socket. A unit with just a socket is compatible with all car types and thus is the approach recommended by NZTA for public stations. Units with attached cables are limited to specific cars (okay for home or fleets). Either way the connectors are specific to electric cars, deterring others from using them.

Cars limit the maximum pace of AC charging; e.g. older Nissan Leafs only charge up to 3.6 kW, and the newest BMW i3 charge up to 11 kW; so while a dedicated 22 kW charger will work, it will charge only as fast as the car supports. On the other hand, a Renault Zoe and Tesla cars can charge at higher power levels, and drivers could feel impatient using a low (e.g. 7kW) power.

These units (especially 3-phase 22kW) provide fast enough speeds to suit users parked at day-time destinations (e.g. workplaces, malls), without the high cost of fast DC chargers (below).

Fast DC Chargers

16-800 amps, 415-480V, 3 phase, inverted and supplied to car as DC

Medium speed: 12-25 kW

Adding 100km takes 1-2 hours.

Fast: 50 kW(Common in NZ)

Adding 100km takes 25 minutes

Faster: 120 kW(Rare in NZ[30])

Adding 100km takes 10 minutes

Ultra Fast: 400 kW (No car yet supports charging this quickly[31])

Adding 100km takes 3 minutes[32]

The earlier options take hours for a car to recharge. Fast chargers by comparison take much less time, and make long distance road trips practical. They work by providing a much greater amount of electricity and by changing it into direct current meaning it can be fed straight into the battery. Like petrol, you can choose just to ‘top up’ your car and put in a few minutes’ worth of power.

25 minutes typically adds 100km, however much shorter recharge times will become possible when New Zealand gains higher power charging stations and cars that support them. This type of charging equipment comes in a large range of speeds and therefore costs (under $10,000 to over $100,000; a 50kW device is in the middle of this range.) They are purchased by organisations and put in key locations where a high volume of car owners can drive to, such as town centers, supermarkets or petrol stations, or workplace fleet carparks. They are overkill in locations where people intend to park for hours; a slower charger would be more appropriate there.

Cars usually can only be fast-charged to between 85-95% full, and the charging slows right down towards the end.

Your car will normally come with a portable cable for only one of the two wall-sockets pictured on the previous page, and might come with a cable to plug into a “Type 2” wall socket. Pick carefully when buying a cable, socket, or charging unit. Do not allow a car dealer to provide you with a cable for a Japanese shaped wall socket or 100V electricity; this is unsafe and not permitted.

car connectors and inlets

The connector/inlet on the car is designed specifically to be durable for continuous use and to be safe. There are multiple standards based on manufacturer, country, and charging speed. The following is based on typical configuration for cars in New Zealand[33]:

Slow (AC)

Fast (DC)

Combo (slow AC and fast DC)

Type 1 (“J1772”) (Japan / US)

Nissan Leaf and eNV200

Mitsubishi iMiev and Outlander

Holden Volt

Audi A3 e-tron, Q7

BMW - bought in NZ (historically)

Kia Soul

Toyota Prius Plugin

CHAdeMO (Japan / US)

Nissan Leaf and eNV200

Mitsubishi iMiev and some Outlander

BMW i3 imported from Japan

Kia Soul

Tesla (with CHAdeMO cable from Tesla)

Type 1 CCS (Japan / US)

BMW i3 bought in NZ (historically)

NOT supported by NZ charging stations

Type 2 (“Mennekes”) (Europe)

Hyundai Ioniq

Renault Zoe, Kangoo

VW eGolf

BMW (from mid 2017)

Tesla (Uniquely, supports both slow AC and fast DC via this Type 2 socket)

Tesla Supercharger (Japan/US)

This socket isn’t found on Tesla cars in NZ. Here, Tesla cars use CHAdeMO (with special cable supplied by Tesla) and Type 2 (both AC and DC).

NOT supported by NZ charging stations

Type 2 CCS (Europe)

Hyundai Ioniq

BMW (mid 2017 onwards)

VW eGolf

NZTA issued guidelines in 2016 (nzta.govt.nz/ev) on the socket types to install at public stations:

  • AC: Socketed Type 2
    (with drivers bringing a cable like that pictured, to fit their car).
  • DC: CHAdeMO and Type 2 CCS (cabled),
    supplemented with an AC Type 2 socket.

Example Type 1 (left, into car) to Type 2 (right, into wall) AC charging cable

Smarter charging in the future

  • Your vehicle could power a home (“V2H”) or return power to the national grid (“V2G”) to help cover power shortages and outages, and reduce power costs. Readily available in Japan[34], an early stage demonstration by Vector in Auckland is currently underway[35].
  • Power companies could switch your charging on and off during the night to use electricity at times of lowest cost and demand. This was successfully trialed in California with 100 cars[36].
  • Wireless charging (also known as induction) is available overseas (e.g. pluglesspower.com).

Where can I charge?

Home is where the majority of charging takes place. Some New Zealand employers are providing workplace charging to staff. (This is popular in the USA where workplace chargers are available to over 1 million workers; a charger makes employees six times more likely to own an electric car[37]).

A national network of over 100 public fast chargers are being installed by charge.net.nz in cities and every 50-100 km along major state highways (Map below right). The first stations were installed in 2015 and the network will largely cover the country by the end of 2017, assisted by BMW. An access fob and a website application offered by Charge Net NZ allows drivers to pay for charging across both their network and many (but not all) stations installed by others.

  • Tesla is also installing SuperChargers for road trips, and slower chargers at destinations.
  • Some electricity companies are also installing charging stations (e.g. Vector in Auckland).
  • Phoneboxes are being upgraded to provide slow charging (see spark.co.nz/plug)
  • Hotels, motels and campgrounds offer charging. Many require a Blue Commando plug.
  • A number of tourism destinations and retailers are adding slow chargers for customers.

Use plugshare.com (pictured left) or the PlugShare smartphone app for a map of where to charge.

Slow Charging (for destinations) Fast Charging Network (for road trips)

All of the above slow chargers are operating today.


Running|Construction |2017/18 |Later

Offering car charging to staff, customers, or the public? You should certainly list it on PlugShare (it’s free). Describe whether charging is free to the public, free to customers, or paid, or restricted to employees, the hours of operation (hopefully 24/7!), connector types and electrical power, and upload photos to promote your listing. Add signage to the physical space (e.g. “Electric car charging only”) and use NZTA’s official symbol, to increase public awareness of electric cars, and to avoid petrol cars blocking the park. NZTA has guidance on installing public charging infrastructure at nzta.govt.nz/ev.

Batteries: Size, Life, Replacement

Electric car batteries weigh several hundred kilograms and sit in the floor of the car. This gives the cars a low centre of gravity, adding stability when cornering and accelerating.

Battery size is measured in kilowatt-hours, or kWh. Lower priced electric cars have ~24 kWh batteries; high-end Tesla cars have up to 100 kWh; buses and trucks much more still. This affects range and cost.

The life of a battery is reduced when at extreme high or low levels of charge[38]. To avoid cars reaching either end, not all of the battery capacity is made available.

You can lengthen the life of your battery by fully charging it only on occasion (hence the “80% charge” option on most cars) and by avoiding the car being left too long at a high or low level of charge (e.g. finishing your charge at 7am is ideal, but if it gets totally flat, recharge a bit straight away). The battery will last longer if it is generally around a third to half charged. Hot temperatures (particularly over 30°C) reduce battery life; some cars actively cool the battery to combat this. Excessive (more than daily, for years) fast-charging will reduce battery life slightly[39].

Nissan state expected battery capacity to reduce to 80% after 5 years and 70% at 10 years, assuming 20,000km of annual driving in a Los Angeles climate (10-30°C, average ~20°C)[40]. Car manufacturers use different battery chemistries which may offer different lifespans. You can assess battery capacity on the dashboard or smartphone app when you test drive a car[41]. While minor loss of capacity is typical in a used vehicle (e.g. 10%), you might be saving half or a third of the cost of a new car, and the range will be still be higher than a typical daily drive. Car batteries have warranties, but conditions vary. Only some dealers provide warranties with used imports, although the Consumer Guarantees Act standard of "fit for purpose" applies to all sales to private individuals.

Eventually the battery will need replacement. It can then be recycled or, reused, for example by homeowners who want to store electricity from solar panels or overnight off-peak power.

  • You may be able to buy a battery with more capacity than the car initially came with.
    (e.g. BMW i3 is upgradable from 22 to 33kWh; Renault Zoe from 22 to 41kWh).
  • You may need to replace only individual dead cells, at a lower price than a full replacement.
  • BlueCars.nzcan test, fix weak, or replace Nissan Leaf battery cells, although is currently limited to replacements coming from other used vehicles. Testing $35+; work jobs $750 - $5000.

Go for a test drive!

The experience of test-driving an electric car usually gives people the confidence to buy. You can test drive an electric car by asking a dealer, asking existing owners if they’re prepared to let you drive theirs, or rent from: bluecars.nz, electricdaypass.co.nz, mevo.co.nz, snaprentals.co.nz, (soon) goyoogo.com.

Where to buy and get service?

Used and new car dealers throughout NZ sell and service electric cars. You will find hundreds of listings by choosing “Fuel Type: Electric” in the Advanced Car Search at trademe.co.nz/motors and by visiting websites. Used cars from Japan usually have console displays stuck in Japanese; this isn’t an issue with UK imports or cars sold new in NZ. www.gvi.kiwi can set Japanese Nissan Leafs to English.

What about other types of vehicles?

  • Bicycles: commonly sold in local bicycle shops, with 40-100km “pedal assisted” range.
  • Motorbikes: ubcobikes.com (kiwi made, off-road); zeromotorcycles.com (import, for road).
  • Formula racing cars compete in “Formula E” (fiaFormulaE.com); An electric supercar is the fastest around the gruelling Nurburgring circuit (www.nio.io/ep9).
  • Over 400 one-seat “Paxster” fully electric delivery buggies are used by NZ Post.[42]
  • Trucks are made by zevnz.com and Waste Management locally. Hybrid utes, SUVs and heavy trucks are being developed by viamotors.com, wrightspeed.com and tesla.com/truck.[43]
  • Fully electric buses are mass produced by BYD.com; London is buying hundreds[44]
    N
    ew Zealand may gain hundreds of plug-in hybrid buses by Wrightspeed from 2017[45], and fully electric buses will be trialed in New Zealand during 2017. Hyundai also make eBuses.
  • The world’s first electric ferry launched in 2015 in Norway (carries 300 people, 120 cars)[46].
  • Electric airplanes are being developed. The Solar Impulse 2 flew around the entire globe in 2016; passenger planes capable of 2-hour flights are expected within a decade (weflywright.com)

Further information and events

EVTalk, a NZ electric vehicle news website, email newsletter, and monthly print magazine. evtalk.co.nz

EVolocity, annual electric vehicle event, including test drives, workshops, and high-school teams building and competing with their own electric vehicles. evolocity.co.nz(Christchurch late 2017)

Leading the Charge, an annual 2500km electric car roadtrip the length of New Zealand, stopping in multiple towns for public display and rides. leadingthecharge.org.nz (next: ~April 2018)

EVWorld, public and industry conference. www.evworld.nz (Ran Auckland, September 2017)

International Drive Electric Week, September 10-18: locationshost parades, displays, and events to help people to see, ride, or drive electric vehicles. See driveelectricweek.org

Facebook “EV Owner” groups


[1]This document is released under the Creative Commons Attributions license at creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/nz/

[6]NZTA links to 2012 Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand Study hapinz.org.nz/HAPINZ%20Update_Vol%201%20Summary%20Report.pdf

[12] More information and sources about the hydrogen section: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_vehicle#All-electric_vehicles. A test-drive of a hydrogen versus electric car is contrasted at transportevolved.com/2015/08/25/first-drive-report-2016-toyota-mirai-hydrogen-fuel-cell-sedan/
Essay by hydrogen race-car builder has published essay at
ssj3gohan.tweakblogs.net/blog/11470/why-fuel-cell-cars-dont-work-part-1

[13] Costs from TradeMe & aa.co.nz/cars/buy-sell/new-cars/new-car-prices/. Electric Range is U.S. EPA from fueleconomy.gov, unless stated otherwise.

[21]$18 ACC levy + $52 NZTA licensing + admin fee: nzta.govt.nz/vehicles/licensing-rego/vehicle-fees/licensing-fees/

[25]Example electric vehicle policy text used by GWRC and WDC: gw.govt.nz/assets/Climate-change/GWRCelectric-vehicle-policy-2016.pdf

[26]See 0h50m on EVTV show youtube.com/watch?v=7NlmTiaR1Zg and various other research papers at avt.inl.gov

[28]km/hour charging on this and next page is a rough guide on the basis of 5 km per kWh; you’ll go a little further in flat/urban driving.

[29]Pictured EVSE: Type 2 socketed wall-mounted device with an untethered cable (as per NZTA guidance)

[30]Tesla’s SuperChargers run at 120kW and go higher still in the future. 120kW Delta DC chargers are sold in NZ by yhipower.co.nz.

[31] In 2017, 400kW chargers are being installed in USA (chargepoint.com/products/commercial/express-plus) and 350kW chargers across Europe.

[32]Assuming your battery is large enough and you travel 5km per kWh; you could go further with urban/flat driving.

[33]Vector diagrams for the sockets available commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/EV_Charger_Gallery

[34]Nichibon launched a low cost Japanese V2H product in 2012 nichicon.co.jp/english/product_news/new124.html

[37]A wealth of statistics and information on workplace charging is found at energy.gov/eere/vehicles/workplace-charging

[38]Wealth of battery information at batteryuniversity.com; Dalhousie Uni lecture by Jeff Dahn youtube.com/watch?v=9qi03QawZEk

[39]US government study on slow vs fast charging: avt.inl.gov/pdf/energystorage/FastChargeEffects.pdf

[41]Nissan Leaf shows health on dashboard; LeafSpy is an iOS / Android app showing more detail. Similar tools exist for other cars.


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