On the Road

Leading The Charge

Day Twenty-Three: 19 April Napier

The trip from Palmerston North to Napier over the Saddle Road took us way above the fog and a stopoff at the Te Apiti Wind Farm is almost compulsory in these idyllic conditions. Giving a sense of scale of the size of these giants.



It's definitely a two-dog day in the twin city region of Napier and Hastings.  First, whilst charging in Hastings this fab little guy "Tiddles" hanging with his dad: William Nelson - commonly known as the "Father of Hawke's Bay" for the contribution he made to the economics of the area.

And then in Napier - the slightly more well-known statue "A Wave in Time." In fact, the dog "Raven" was added as an artistic measure and is modelled on the sculptor's own dog. There is a second statue of a little boy clinging to a light pole waving back to her.


“A Wave in Time” bronze sculpture by Mark Whyte (2010). The woman is modelled on Sheila Williams, the daughter of a prominent Napier architect. Sheila organised and led the 1933 Earthquake Recovery Parade. 


Day Twenty-Two: 18 April Palmerston North

Every event the Better NZ Trust has ever held in The Square in Palmerston North has been terrific. But today's event surpassed all the previous ones!  We were given great weather, there were lots of cars on view and many people stopped by, eager to talk to EV drivers and study the car line-up in detail.

Wellington Regional EV-Champion, Donald Love, shares his knowledge & enthusiasm with the public.

Sue Pugmire, the PN-champion, had organised the event superbly as usual, and not only sang beautifully for us, but also lined up speakers to give the event some clout.

[from left] Kathryn Trounson, Sue Pugmire, Iain Lees-Galloway, Grant Smith, and Rachel Keedwell (far right)

Mayor Grant Smith, JP welcomed the Better NZ Trust road trippers to Palmerston North.

“Palmerston North has a special interest in electric vehicles,” his worship the mayor explained. “They not only tick all the boxes in our environmental strategies, but they are also very cool.”

The mayor’s speech was followed by the MP for Palmerston North, Hon Iain Lees-Galloway. The minister mentioned the Government’s investment in electric vehicles via the EECA Contestable Fund, where $11m has recently been put up to support people to purchase electric vehicles. The minister also spoke of the current Government’s promise to have an electric fleet by 2025, wherever practical.

“The Prime Minister is constantly on our case (members of parliament), as individuals, to purchase EVs when we upgrade our private vehicles. The progress of EV adoption in NZ is steady and sustainable. We’ve seen a lot of progress and I thank the Better NZ Trust for keeping EV on our radar.”

Next to speak was Rachel Keedwell, Councillor of Horizons Regional Council.

“Horizons has purchased its first fleet EV and looking at replacing the remainder of our fleet as and when needed. One of our initiatives that has come to fruition is the first electric bus in Palmerston North will be on the road by the end of the year, thanks to the EECA fund, and the submissions that locals have put it which has prompted the change. We have also requested all future public transport tenders to give us options on EV.”

Professor Robert McLachlan of Massey University reported that more needs to be done to combat NZ’s currently losing battle against transport emissions.

"2017 saw an increase of 800,000 tonnes of GHG pollution in transport (compared to 1990) and yet internationally 2018 was the year that electric vehicles truly began taking off. The University has a carbon management plan in place which includes looking at not only the staff fleet but also student transport and University air transport requirements.”

Finally Chair of Better NZ Trust, Kathryn Trounson, officially opened the event at The Square.

“This is one of our favourite destinations because here there is so much space to show the vehicles to their best advantage and to show what is possible and what is now available in NZ. The Better NZ Trust is part-funded by the EECA Education Fund,” she says. “The main purpose of this event is to encourage people to include an EV in their personal fleet. An example of how much we’ve grown is the fact that this year we have give-away bags full of information available. These have been sponsored by Repco, and while this may not immediately seem like a perfect fit, in fact you may notice that all Electric Vehicles have wheels. They all have windscreen wipers. Yes, they even all need cleaning.”

We were privileged again to have Brian come along with his new pride and joy, his Jaguar I-PACE, which garnered lots of interest and was by far the most popular vehicle that people wanted to look at and ride in! Brian did 61 rides and really enjoyed showing his new car off – he acquired instant champion status for this amazing endeavour! 

The Photon Red I-PACE

The Tesla Model X’s on view were the next most studied vehicles – Martin’s because he did the ‘dance’ every hour to everyone’s delight, and Lex’s bright orange X because he was doing rides in it!  Lex clocked up 27 rides, with several of the most informed riders being children!  Doing events in school holidays has many up sides!

A crowd gathers to watch the Model X "dance"

The Hyundai Kona was a new car that many had not seen, and Grant Smith spent quite some time grilling Greg as to its credentials.


We even had an electric rubbish truck, as well as 24kW and 40kW Leafs, 2 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs, a BMW i3, 2 Tesla Model S and a Prius PHEV.  There was something for everybody.  One lady arrived in her Leaf which she had had for exactly a week! Despite there being several cars that the public could drive there were only 6 people who actually sat behind the steering wheel and felt the torque of an electric motor.

The goody bags were a great hit and we must have given away over 200.  That means that well over 400 people attended the event!

Sue Pugmire told the trippers over dinner tonight that she was contacted by three people following last Year’s RoadTrip event who had gone and bought an EV as a result of talking to owners!


Day Twenty-One: 17 April Masterton

We all left Wellington at differing times according to our charging needs. So, we didn't take on the Remutaka Crossing in a convoy. For my part, with nobody behind me, I used this huge zigzag downhill to try to find the i3's regen sweet spot. And in case you're wondering, I'm still haven't found it.

We regrouped at the Paua World in Carterton. I thought we were just coming here to shop for kitschy bits and bobs.

In fact, it was a hugely enjoyable visit, tour, and quite a decent turnout of interested people arrived to see our electric cars.

The business of organising where to position each car for a photo-op, is quite a complex process involving much moving of cars and "discussion".

The paua business itself is both a shop and a manufacturer of paua shell. They are huge users of electricity, $40-50,000 per year, so it made sense for them to cover their roof with solar panels. These, they say, they will pay off within five years. And it has prompted them to also install a small type 2 EV charger. They are currently charging for the use of this to pay for the charger.


Then we carried on to Masterton for the day's main event. Here, in the town square, we felt we were a little too far from the action, but nevertheless had a steady stream of people, including the mayor, councillors and interested local journalists from the adjacent gorgeous art-deco Wairarapa Times-Age building. We also had a visit from Batman, while Eddie the coffee man (himself a LEAF owner) was on hand with vital refreshments.  Of particular interest was a Jaguar I-PACE which joined us from Wellington and took pride of place.  And we can now confirm that there will be an I-PACE at the Auckland event.


After a lunch break, we all headed out to Gladstone Vineyard to taste their wines while enjoying the fireplace. They have had an unseasonably early year, with picking largely done already.

pigs, ducks and chooks at Gladstone Winery framed by Donald's and Will's matching LEAFs

We are now numbering eight cars and about 17 people, and we say goodbye to Will Hunter and Daniel & Sara Kirven. But joining us is Donald Love, and Sarah Bell (and family) - both in LEAFs.



Day Twenty: 16 April Blenheim

Perhaps Blenheim will be remembered for its roundabouts and regularly chiming clock. But time was against us as the start/finish times were changed to allow us to get to the ferry without rushing. The two hours allowed for the event could easily have been twice that, such was the interest and numbers of people come to look.

The square was packed with display cars while the ioniq from Nelson and the GVI Gen-2 Gold-Leaf were on the street giving drives. Interestingly kids were dragging their parents across the street to look at the “e-cars” and there were plenty of curious adults as well.  Liza must have either chosen the perfect spot to hold the event or done a lot of prior advertising.

Many giveaways were taken and our expertise stretched with a variety of questions. Chelsea and Fiona had their ear bent for half an hour by one over-curious punter.

And then all too soon, it was time to pack up and head off to Picton. We said goodbye to David and family who were heading home to Nelson and with our enlarged contingent of eight vehicles, we boarded the ferry for an ever-so-slightly washing machine style crossing.

There were a few moments of excitement as a couple of cars moved during the crossing way too close to one of the Teslas. But otherwise the crossing was uneventful and our "modest" accommodation in Lower Hutt easy to reach within 20 minutes, even in rush hour, and hopefully easy to exit Wellington for tomorrow's full day of events and sightseeing in the Wairarapa.


Day Nineteen: 15 April Orion

Another day, another dog. Well three actually.


These three gorgeous little guys are corgis, sculptured by David Marshall to commemorate QEII's 50th Jubilee.  They trail their leads behind them as they appear to waddle up the street, and undoubtedly the cutest is the one in the rear who seems fascinated with whatever is sticking out of the street. 


Back to EVs. Today the road trippers called into the Orion offices in Burnside, to lend their EVs in a display for local fleet managers. Orion are certainly leading the charge in EV fleets, with a definite PHEVolution going on, not to mention a healthy dose of Kona. My little i3 looks a bit like Where's Wally in amongst them, while the Jones' Outlander looks right at home, although perhaps a little less formally dressed.


We enjoyed coffee and muffins, and after the event, while some of us dashed off to spread the charging load, the others took the opportunity to have a walk-through the Orion control room. It was certainly another fascinating industry tour but into a lines company this time, as opposed to Meridian at Manapouri who are generators. And, a valuable furthering of our education of the electricity industry.

At this point, we are saying goodby to road trippers Oana and Paul and Henry who are heading back to Dunedin. However, are have two new cars on the road trip and our numbers are now at 17 people in 8 cars.

After a gruelling trip up the coast - my i3 rolled into both Kaikoura and Blenheim emitting polluting emissions from its scooter generator - highlighting that low-mid range EVs do need charger support on either side of Kaikoura.  Tomorrow (16th) will bring the last Mainland event and is being held from 10:00 - 12 midday in Blenheim.



Click the read more link below to see the previous days' diaries.

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Mitch Wins for NZ and Panasonic Jaguar Racing

Mitch Evans clawed his way past Andre Lotterer in a hard-fought duel on the streets of Rome to earn his first victory in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship and a maiden win for Panasonic Jaguar Racing.
Evans stalked the back of Lotterer’s car in the opening phase of the race, with the DS TECHEETAH driver unable to pull a gap. With both teams and drivers evenly-matched on pace, it became a tactical battle about when to deploy ATTACK MODE.
It was Evans who blinked first - activating ATTACK MODE just after the halfway mark. Despite losing some time moving off the racing line, Evans stayed ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne in third and quickly roped Lotterer back in.
Lotterer chose not to mirror Evans and ran an alternate strategy, holding off on using the higher power mode and keeping the Jaguar behind - intending to reap the rewards later in the race and using track position to his advantage.
However, Evans had other ideas and made a lunge with only seconds to spare with ATTACK MODE running out. Staying in his slipstream with the shining LED lights on the halo, Evans squeezed by Lotterer with a bold move up the inside of Turn 11.
With the lead changing hands, Lotterer used ATTACK MODE twice on the bounce in a bid to counteract the advance of Evans. But despite his best efforts, he couldn’t get close enough and had to once again settle for second place.
Managing and closely monitoring his energy to the chequered flag, Evans punched the air as he crossed the finish-line - adding to the list of consecutive different winners so far this season and taking the tally to seven.
Vandoorne hung on to the coat-tails of the top-two and rounded-out the podium places, before coming to a halt on the cool down lap. The result marks the first podium for the Belgian in his rookie season and the first for HWA RACELAB in Formula E.
Robin Frijns progressed through the field to fourth ahead of Sebastien Buemi - who picked-up an extra point for fastest lap - with his Nissan e.dams team-mate Oliver Rowland a place further back, in front of Lucas di Grassi in seventh.
Four points for Jerome D’Ambrosio in eighth was enough to vault him above Antonio Felix da Costa, returning to the top of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship standings with the top-nine drivers covered by a mere 13 points.
Reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne couldn’t replicate his form from Sanya, failing to score points after being caught-up in the first lap melee with Jose Maria Lopez and Gary Paffett that eventually brought out the red flag. Vergne was later penalised for overtaking Da Costa under Full Course Yellow - dropping him further down the order.
The ABB FIA Formula E Championship now heads to Paris for the second instalment of the voestalpine European races on April 27.
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Repco Supports EV

The automotive world is changing and some commercial entities are quickly recognising the opportunities that this will bring. One of these businesses is Repco New Zealand.

Repco New Zealand is proudly supporting the #LeadingTheCharge 2019 Great EV Road Trip.

"Now in its 5th season, this is a fantastic annual event for Repco to be part of," says Richelle Ashman, Marketing Manager NZ. "Repco recognises Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming a popular choice for New Zealand drivers."

Repco has been providing New Zealanders with what they need to get their vehicle road ready for over 95 years. Repco leads the charge in the automotive parts aftermarket, which makes Repco a fitting partner to the #LeadingTheCharge 2019 Great EV Road Trip.

If you are coming along to a Leading The Charge event in Dunedin, Christchurch, Palmerston North, Auckland and Whangarei, be sure to pick up a Repco voucher to save on your next purchase at you nearest Repco store.

I used my voucher to buy seat covers for my BMW. Thanks Repco.

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Taupo Turns It On

Taupo turned on glorious weather for the 2019 Road Trippers.

After the cancellation of the Rotorua Night Market due to inclement weather, the Great EV Road Trip 2019 began at stop 2 – Taupo – on the Colonel Roberts Reserve, right in the heart of the eating quarter of Taupo – and on the waterfront. 


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Bird Brains It



Race 5 of the season was the 50th Formula E race and it was therefore fitting that the series was back in China where the very first Formula E race was held. Although that race was in Beijing while this 5th race of Season 5 was on the waterfront streets of downtown Hong Kong. It was also the 50th Formula E race for veteran Brazilian driver, Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler)

The rain held off yet again, but the track was in various degrees of wet and dry from an earlier downpour, making driving tricky especially over the painted areas of the street track which become like ice when wet.  The track had 10 turns, six to the right and four to the left with mixed surfaces.

It was a game of cat and mouse between German, Andre Lotterer driving for DS Techeetah and Briton Sam Bird of Envision Virgin Racing, which ultimately ended in contact with Bird's claws causing a tyre blow-out.


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Santiago E Prix - Race 3 Results

British driver Sam Bird wins at Santiago for the Envision Virgin Racing team, making him the only driver to have a win in every season of Formula E.  Unaware that he was under investigation for being underweight during his post-race weigh-in, he accepted his trophy and fortunately was eventually cleared.

On the podium it was (1st) Sam Bird (Envisage Virgin Racing), (2nd) Pascal Wehrlein (Mahindra Racing), (3rd) Daniel Abt (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler). Abt also got the points for fastest lap, and received one of the five fanboosts.


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EV Sales 2018 NZ

EV-Sales is a blog created by Jose Pontes, which tracks plug-in (PEV) sales all over the world, ranking countries and manufacturers by sales.

It's a labour-intensive job, with some countries, like NZ, freely publishing this raw data, but in others the data can sometimes be very difficult to come by. Nevertheless, he manages to produce data on about 80 models in 40 markets, twice a year.  When the #LeadingTheCharge team are looking for sales data of NZ-new PEV, this has been a major source of information for us, and therefore probably of interest to our 13,000 registered members.

Leading The Charge now boasts a Membership of 13,000.

NZ's 2018 EOY has just been published at EV-Sales. In summary, New Zealand is +31% for December 2018 compared to December 2017, and +56% for yr-2018 compared to yr-2017. I'll transcribe the New Zealand specific results in full below this introduction. 

Meanwhile, the EV-Sales blog is a subset of EV-Volumes. EV-Volumes, based in Sweden, collects data on more than just sales. They are tracking: Products, prices, batteries, charging infrastructure, regulations and incentives globally. A quote from their website, reads:

"We share a passion for EVs and their ability to make life easier and more sustainable.  EVs offer unmatched energy efficiency, operating cost and cleanness. We believe in their potential to make automobiles the most entertaining, comfortable, purposeful and affordable we ever had.

"Finding the facts in this emerging, dynamic industry can be very time consuming, often impossible. And it is not likely to be your core business either. We made it ours and want to share our knowledge with you."


Just a few important notes to keep in mind when reading this data.

1. It is important to differentiate between sales and total fleet numbers. This is a record of sales year-on-year, not total fleet numbers. So while NZ may be heading towards a 3% of national fleet in new registrations, that does not necessarily mean we have 3% of the total fleet. 

2. NZ's vehicle market is largely driven by used imports. Our biggest selling PEV is the Nissan LEAF. In 2018, these were 100% imported, so don't win a podium spot. Though rumour has it that Nissan will begin selling NZ-new LEAFs in mid-late 2019.

3. While to NZ'ers low-speed vehicles may seem unimportant, from a global climate POV, they are terribly important when used in high population density countries like China and India. The shift to electric NEV in these huge numbers is gradually making a positive impact on inner-city pollution in China. This is especially so, in those regions of China which generate largely renewable sources of electricity to power them.


[Rachelle Tilsley - Leading The Charge - 26 Jan 2019]


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Melee in Morocco FE

It was anybody's game in Marrakesh during the 2nd Race of the 2019 ABB FIA Formula E Series last night. 

Attack Activation Zone in the forefront of this image of the Marrakesh Street Track. Drivers need to turn on attack mode and activate it by taking the corner wide passing over the red and blue lines. Attack mode at Marrakesh lasts 4 minutes and gives an extra 25kW power.

New Zealander, Mitch Evans, got off to a great start, winning a practice race and breaking the track record with a time of 1.17.22. While he didn’t get the extra series point that he would have if he’d won fastest lap during the main race, it was enough for him to comfortably make it into the top six for the qualifying races. In these he just managed to retain a spot in the top six and was therefore eligible to compete in the Julius Baer Super Pole shoot out.

From that point on nothing went right for the Panasonic Jaguar team. In the Super Pole race, Evans overshot the braking-point unable to make the corner at turn six and driving off track into the skate way. By the time he got back on track, he trailed a miserable 17+ seconds behind the pole position. Having already qualified in the top six, Evans still retained his third-row starting post alongside BMW i Andretti Motorsport's Alex Sims who made good time but placed 5th in the Super Pole.

Evan's teammate, Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jn was starting in ninth position followed by Mahindra Racing's Jerome d'Ambrosio.


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Proactive Vector Produces EV Pamphlet

Unable to wait on government, Vector has begun publishing its own series of Guides on EV Charging. The first much-needed guide will be aimed at multi-dwelling complexes. This how-to guide is designed to make it easier for tenants and residents of business, commercial and apartment buildings to install EV charging facilities. 

Lines company, Vector Limited is New Zealand's leading electricity distributor and is largely owned by Auckland householders, via Entrust.

“EV popularity continues to skyrocket, with the number of EVs on New Zealand roads almost doubling year-on-year,” said Vector’s Head of Engineering, Cristiano Marantes.

“By demystifying the process and making it easier for people to charge their EVs, we expect to see to see more businesses adopt them as part of their company fleet,” he said. 

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2018 Final EV Tally

NZ EV Registrations: Just Shy of 12K mark

Figures released yesterday by the Ministry of Transport have final numbers of electric vehicles registered in NZ as of 2018 year-end at 11,748. This comfortably exceeds the Government's target of 8,000. 

Continuing the trend, light electric far outweighs heavy EV. Interestingly though, BEV has more than double the number of registrations as PHEV on an increasing trend year on year.





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