NZ Electric Car Guide

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electric car guide

By Sigurd Magnusson, Wellington, NZ. 7 December 2018. Updated monthly. Download latest from

Questions, corrections, feedback to or 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 60% of new car sales now fully electric or plug-in hybrid (with most of the rest being plug-less 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, used, 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 pioneer in electric cars. Most automakers are indicating timeframes by which all cars they manufacture will be partially or fully electric, e.g. Volvo by 2019[10]; Jaguar 2020, Mercedes 2022, Toyota/Lexus 2025[11]; Porsche & VW 2030[12].

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.

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. Most have very small batteries that don’t drive far electrically. 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.[13]

Common electric cars in New Zealand[14]

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


Electric Range



0-100, Power

Fast Charge

Cost ($000)

used - new

# in NZ

(last month)

Nissan Leaf (Fully electric)


2011-17 models:

117 km Gen1

135 km Gen2

172 km Gen2

2017-19 models:

243 km

~350 km (2019)



30 note[15]



9-10 secs

80kW 110hp


8 secs

110kW 147hp


$10k - $65k used

(Used imports from Japan & UK are abundant. Also available new 2019.)



(~ 50% of all EVs in NZ)

BMW i3 (Full Electric OR Plug-In Hybrid)


130 km Gen1

183 km Gen2

260 km Gen3

(+116 km petrol range if plugin hybrid)




7 secs

125kW (168hp)


$40 - $85k


(158 BEV)


Hyundai Ioniq (Full Electric OR Plug-In Hybrid)


219 km

(Or, if PHEV, then 47km electric range + hundreds of km petrol range)


Larger battery coming 2019

10 secs

88 kW

(118 hp)




(420 BEV)


Nissan e-NV200 (Fully Electric)

2, 5, or 7

121 km Gen1

194 km Gen2



11 secs






(Imports only.

High price due to low supply.)



Tesla Model S (Fully Electric)


(plus 2 kids as option)

416 km


507 km




2.7 secs

(Ludicrous upgrade)

568 kW

(762 hp)


$129k + optional upgrades

(Buy from NZ section of



Tesla Model X (Fully Electric)

5, 6, or 7

383 km


465 km






3.1 secs

(Ludicrous upgrade)

568 kW

(762 hp)


$139k+ optional upgrades

(Buy from NZ section of



VW e-Golf (Fully Electric)


Generation 1:

133 km

Generation 2:

201 km




10 secs


(115 hp)


$40 - 62k



Renault Zoe (Fully Electric)


Generation 1:

~ 140 km

Generation 2:

~ 280 km

(Manufacturer claim, not EPA)





13.5 secs

65 kW



60 min to 80% AC recharge available



(UK import)



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


100 km


13 secs

49 kW

(66 hp)



(No longer sold new; import only.

The Peugeot is higher spec.)



Hyundai Kona (Fully Electric)


Estimated EPA

402 km

(A smaller range battery option exists but is not available in NZ)


7.6s 150kW





Renault Kangoo (Fully Electric)

2 or 5

Generation 1:

~100 km

Generation 2:

~150 km

(Manufacturer claim, not EPA)






44 kW

(60 hp)





Kia Soul EV (Fully Electric)


150 km

179 km

350+km (2019)




11 secs

81 kW

(109 hp)



(Imported. Not sold new in NZ.

Long range 2019 version price TBC)



LDV EV80 (Fully Electric)



150+ km


100 kW


(slow charge optional)

~ $80k

(or $75k with cab & chassis only)



Jaguar i-Pace (Fully Electric) COMING 2019


376 km


290 kW

4.8 secs




Order now for 2019 delivery.

Tesla Model 3 (Fully Electric) COMING LATE 2019


346 km

418 km

500 km

~ 50

~ 62

~ 80

5.6 secs

4.5 secs

3.3 secs


USD 35k

USD 46k

USD 53k

(plus GST)


Order now for 2019 delivery.

Medium-range Plug In Hybrids (30-100km EPA electric range):

Low-range Plug In Hybrids (under 30km EPA electric range):

Holden Volt PHEV (56km) (Sedan) Rare, used, sold 2013+

Hyundai Ioniq PHEV (47km) (Hatch) $54k new

Kia Niro PHEV (42km) (SUV) $56k new

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (35km) (SUV) $32k used / $60k new

Toyota Prius Prime (40km) (Hatch) $48k new

Audi: A3, Q7

BMW: 225xe, 330e, 740e, X5, i8

Mini: Countryman

Mercedes Benz: C 350 e, GLE 500 e, S 500 e

Porsche: Cayenne & Panamera e-hybrid

Toyota: Plug-In Prius

Volvo: XC60, XC90, S90

8412 full electric + 2732 plug-in hybrid + 111 heavy electric vehicles = 11,255 total

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


New 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. )

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” ( 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” and Worldwide “WLTP” electric car range test is less useful because they state 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 can give you a rough idea.

If you run out of charge, the car will slow down to crawl and eventually stop. The AA can flat-bed tow you to a public charger so you can get back on your journey.

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.[16]

Travelling by electricity is cheaper than petrol: EECA calculates it is equivalent to 30 cents a litre, about 7 times cheaper than petrol.[17] 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:

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 11c 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 charge time’ to just before 7am, so your battery (and optionally cabin) isn’t cold to drive away in, your battery isn’t full for long, and so it randomises the charge start time (makes managing electricity demand easier for the power companies).

Global leaders & government policy

Many governments are forcing automakers to sell electric cars to hit climate change and air quality goals, and in response to diesel emissions cheating. All new cars sold are expected to be electric from 2025 in Norway, 2030 in Germany, Netherlands and India, 2032 in Scotland, and 2040 in France and Britain[18]. Others have interim goals: 12% of sales in China by 2020; 22% of sales in California and New York by 2025; 20-30% of sales in Japan by 2030. 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 charging stations across USA[19]. China is working towards 5 million charging locations by 2020[20].

EVs in Norway[21] (above) and NZ (below):

Norway has the most 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, enjoy halved fringe benefit tax, and free use of bus lanes, toll roads, urban street parking, and charging stations. As a result, Norway has near 300,000 electric vehicles and over 10,000 charging points.

NZ policies and growth

Electric car numbers here are low but doubling per year. If all 3.8 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.[22] In 2016 the government released an electric vehicle ‘package’ with a stated target (a doubling of electric vehicles every year to 64,000 by 2021, about 2% of all vehicles, reaching about one in eight car sales being electric), a $1M/year (for 5 years) nationwide education and promotion campaign, offering cash to co-fund projects that aid electric car adoption ($3M fund pool, open every 6 months), briefly trialled electric cars driving in special vehicle lanes, and efforts to support bulk purchase, public charging infrastructure, and decision-making. In July 2017 the motor vehicle registration fee for electric (and plug in hybrid) cars reduced to ~$75/ year, the same as the safest (and thus lowest price registration) fuel vehicles.[23] See

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 is expected to 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. Rising petrol prices and fuel taxes (up to 9-12c/litre within 3 years across New Zealand, plus 10c/litre in Auckland from July 2018[24]) will increase the savings available to electric car drivers.

NZ is one of few countries in the world where it is very cheap to import used vehicles; this makes used electrics likewise 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[25]. It compared electric vehicle growth in different countries, and determined New Zealand would benefit from a cost-neutral “feebate” scheme, used today in France and Norway. 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 makes it expensive or difficult to buy high-emission cars. The Government is to consider Productivity Commission’s suggestions to bring in the feebate and efficiency standards.[26]

Electric vehicle adoption is supported by an industry ( and owner association ( Some large NZ firms have said they will make a third of their cars electric by 2019[27].

Councils have few electric cars however EECA has released a local government guide for councils[28]. Auckland’s mayor has pledged the streets for a part of the city will be ‘fossil fuel free’ by 2030[29]

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 7 km 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.[30]

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.[31]

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[32]

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 (

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.

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


18-45km per hour recharging

100km takes 2-5 hours


32 amps, three phase AC 415V


110km per hour recharging

100km takes just under an hour

For around $800 or more, you can buy a dedicated wall-mounted charging station[33]. 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, are smartphone controllable, or work well with solar[34].

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 high power 22 kW charger will connect, it will charge only as fast as the car supports. On the other hand, a Renault Zoe and Tesla cars can charge at high power levels, and drivers could feel impatient using a lower power (e.g. 7kW) charger.

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: 25 kW

Adding 100km takes up to 1 hour

Fast: 50 kW (Common in NZ)

Adding 100km takes 25 minutes

Faster: 120 kW (Rare in NZ[35])

Adding 100km takes 10 minutes

Ultra Fast: 400 kW (No car yet supports charging this quickly;
used in NZ today by electric buses

Adding 100km takes 3 minutes[36]

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 (around $15,000 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[37]:

Slow (AC)

Fast (DC)

Combo (slow AC and fast DC)

Type 1 (“J1772”) (Japan / US)

Audi A3 e-tron, Q7 (historically)

BMW - bought in NZ (historically)

Holden Volt

Kia Soul

Nissan Leaf and eNV200

Mitsubishi iMiev and Outlander

Toyota Prius Plugin (not Prime)

CHAdeMO (Japan / US)

BMW i3 imported from Japan

Kia Soul

Nissan Leaf and eNV200

Mitsubishi iMiev and some Outlander

Tesla Model S/X (with adapter from Tesla)

Type 1 CCS (Japan / US)

BMW i3 bought in NZ (historically)

NOT supported by NZ charging stations

Type 2 (“Mennekes”) (Europe)

Audi (from 2017)

BMW (from mid 2017)

Hyundai Ioniq, Kona

Kia Niro (and Kia Soul 2019+)

Renault Zoe, Kangoo

Tesla (slow AC. Fast DC at SuperCharger)

Toyota Prius Prime

VW eGolf

Tesla Supercharger (Japan/US)

This socket isn’t found on Tesla cars in NZ. Here, Tesla Model S/X use CHAdeMO (with special cable supplied by Tesla) and modified Type 2 (not CCS) for both AC and DC). Model 3 is expected to use Type2 CCS

NOT supported by NZ charging stations

Type 2 CCS (Europe)

BMW (mid 2017 onwards)

Kia Soul (from 2019)

Hyundai Ioniq, Kona

Tesla Model 3 (expected)

VW eGolf

NZTA issued guidelines in 2016 ( 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),
    optionally 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[38], an early stage demonstration by Vector in Auckland is currently underway[39].
  • 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[40].
  • Wireless charging (also known as induction) is available overseas (e.g.

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 charging is available to over 1 million workers; a charging station makes employees six times more likely to own an electric car[41]).

A national network with over 100 public fast chargers and growing is being installed by in cities and every 50-100 km along major state highways (Map below right). The first stations were installed in 2015, assisted by BMW, Foodstuffs, EECA, Councils, and lines companies. An access fob, phone app, and website 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).
  • 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.
  • Wellington City Council is trialing street pole chargers for residents who only have on-street parks.

Use (pictured left) for a map of where to charge. NZTA collates and publicly shares official charging locations through a programme named EVRoam, visible on NZTA and the AA website.

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

All of the above slow chargers are operating today.

Running |Construction | 2019 | 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 and information on EVRoam at

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[42]. 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 extend their lifetime. Excessive (more than daily, for years) fast-charging will reduce battery life slightly[43].

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)[44]. 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[45]. 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.
  • can test, fix weak, or replace Nissan Leaf car batteries, including swapping for larger battery sizes (Testing $35+; work jobs $750 - $5000 for used batteries; $15k+ for upsizing).

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:,,,,

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 “Electric Cars” at and at 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. The driver’s dashboard can be configured to display English by dealers. To change the central entertainment headunit to English dealers can sell a new (English) Nissan or third party system.

What about other types of vehicles?

  • Bicycles: commonly sold in local bicycle shops, with 40-100km “pedal assisted” range.
  • Motorbikes: (Kiwi made, off-road); (import, for road).
  • Formula racing cars compete in “Formula E” (; An electric supercar is the fastest around the gruelling Nurburgring circuit (
  • Over 400 one-seat “Paxster” fully electric delivery buggies are used by NZ Post.[46]
  • 4WD Utes: Coming soon from North American companies and
  • Trucks are made by and Waste Management locally. Electric truck importers include and Tesla is releasing a truck in 2019 that can carry 36 tons a distance of 800km and still recharge to 80% in 30 minutes (
  • Fully electric buses are mass produced, particularly in China which has 350,000 on their roads. Wellington[47] and Auckland[48] have electric buses, and plan to go all-electric in the years to come.
  • The world’s first electric ferry launched in 2015 in Norway (carries 300 people, 120 cars)[49].
  • Electric airplanes are in commercial development. The Solar Impulse 2 flew the globe in 2016; Norway aims to have all domestic air travel go electric before 2040[50].

Further information and events

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

NZ EV Podcast, produced weekly,

EVolocity, nationwide annual high school competition to build and race electric vehicles.

EVWorld, public / industry conferences. (late 2019)

International Drive Electric Week. Multiple test drive events. (September)
Flip The Fleet. Enter driving statistics and be a part of a national EV research project.

Leading the Charge, an annual 2500km electric car roadtrip the length of New Zealand, stopping in multiple towns for public display and rides. (Next: 2019)

Facebook “EV Owner” groups

[1] This document is released under the Creative Commons Attributions license at

[6] NZTA links to 2012 Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand Study

[13] More information and sources about the hydrogen section: A test-drive of a hydrogen versus electric car is contrasted at
Essay by hydrogen race-car builder has published essay at

[14] Costs from TradeMe & Electric Range is U.S. EPA from, unless stated otherwise.

[15] Nissan Leaf 30kWh Battery Software Update: + Breaks Update

[23] $18 ACC levy + $52 NZTA licensing + admin fee:

[30] See 0h50m on EVTV show and various other research papers at

[32] km/hour charging on this and next page is a on the basis of 5 km per kWh; you’ll go a little further in flat/urban driving and using more efficient cars.

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

[34] The Zappi electric car charger measures unused solar energy to smartly control the car charge rate

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

[36] Assuming your battery is large enough and you travel 5km per kWh; you could go further with urban/flat driving. Large vehicles such as buses and heavy trucks take considerably more electricity drive each kilometer.

[37] Vector diagrams for the sockets available

[38] Nichibon launched a low cost Japanese V2H product in 2012

[41] A wealth of statistics and information on workplace charging is found at

[42] Wealth of battery information at; Dalhousie Uni lecture by Jeff Dahn

[43] US government study on slow vs fast charging:

[45] 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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  • Alan C Reynolds
    followed this page 2017-04-17 07:05:17 +1200