Region plugs in with more car chargers

Northland is taking charge of its progression to more environmentally friendly transport options, with a national tour of electric vehicles (EVs) marking the launch of some extra charging stations.

The Better NZ Trust brought its Leading the Charge EV tour through Northland this week, stopping off in locations across the region while on its way to Cape Reinga from Bluff.

The third annual EV promotional convoy of seven cars saw a Tesla Model X, three Tesla Model S’s, a Hyundai Ioniq, Renault Zoe, Nissan Leaf and BMW i3 all being displayed in towns across NZ.

Starting in Bluff on March 14, it stopped off at Whangarei on Tuesday and touched down in Kerikeri that evening, where a charge station was launched, before landing at the Cape on Wednesday.

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[Christine Allen - Northlanders - 5 April 2018]

A new rapid charging station was also opened at Kaitaia on Wednesday, as part of the Crimson Coast EV Highway. Opened in the car park behind Te Ahu, by Te Ahu Trust and ChargeNet representatives, it is now New Zealand’s most northern charging station.

Sean Dick, trustee with The Better NZ Trust, says the team was thrilled to reach to the Cape.

“We got out, walked to the lighthouse and then went and had a good celebration. “The tour was such a success – this year, we feel that more people knew what EVs were.”

He says Northland boasts a great team of volunteer EV champions in each town, and the region was now well-served with charge stations.

The challenge in getting more EVs on the road was around the cost of the vehicles, with a second-hand Leaf (with a maximum 100 kms range) costing around $10,000 and a brand new EV starting at $60,000.

“But you will halve your fuels costs and practically eliminate maintenance costs,” he says.

Flying the EV flag

Russell Watson, Network Engineer Manager for Northpower, which hosted the tour in Whangarei, said the event – which was held on the Canopy Bridge in the city – was about flying the EV flag for Northland.

Northland has three rapid charge stations in Whangarei, one in Dargaville, one in Kaiwaka, one in Kawakawa, one in Kerikeri and now, one in Kaitaia.

Russell says the challenges in getting people to change over to EV included the perceived additional cost of the vehicles, the limited range of vehicles and some anxiety about long distance journeys.
“For everyday driving, EVs are ideal…but most of our driving is just commuting,” he says.

The long-term vision, he says, was getting people to migrate to electric cars, which was happening as more models come on-stream.

By Christine Allen


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