What We Do

It's EV promotion season and we've just had a huge weekend of volunteer-led EVents. Many many EV owners have gone ahead and purchased an EV after first hearing about them at one of our events.  We don't always publicly report on our events afterwards because we have so many every month and they are all largely successful. But our volunteers went to such great lengths under the hot sun this past weekend, that we are posting a montage of what took place below.

So what do we do? And what is the Better NZ Trust all about?

image: Trustee, Sigurd Magnusson, takes members of the public for an EV experience ride

The Better NZ Trust promotes the uptake of Electric Vehicles in NZ, particularly in the light passenger and light commercial fleets. We largely do this by holding events where people can look at, learn about, touch and sit in actual electric vehicles. We hand out information pamphlets, dispel myths and answer questions from the point of view of real EV Owners, all without any sales pressure.  Our display vehicles are provided by volunteers, EV-expert car dealers, and commercial fleets who have made the switch to electric.  If you own an EV, you can get involved. Simply ask on your local EV Owners group, or send an email to [email protected].

The New Zealand Electric Light Fleet is expected to reach 20,000 before the end of March

We've been promoting EVs using our brand "#LeadingTheCharge" since 2015, and are officially sponsored by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) to pass their informative pamphlets out to the public.

Find our Event Calendar for up and coming EVents at: https://www.leadingthecharge.org.nz/calendar 

Our next major EVent is at Frankton Thunder on April 5th 2020.


Twin Rivers Car Parade in Christchurch 

In total, there were 15 display EVs present, and about 13 volunteers throughout the day. We also invited a local electric scooter company to come along and demonstrate their scooters as well, as a way of having a more diverse offering and preventing the message just being about private ownership.

Using a clicker, we counted 912 people entering our display area. Although not all of those people talked to our volunteers, a large number did and the rest spent time looking at all the vehicles we had present. 

We had 35 people sign up to do test drives, and there was a queue for Tesla rides for the entire day; at one point we had two model X’s and a model 3 doing test rides, and also several rides in other vehicles which were not tracked.

Thanks to EV City, we had their 1910 Lems electric car, Xray, the cut-in-half Leaf, and a Mitsubishi Outlander with a dedicated fast charger in the boot and a vehicle trailer showing that EVs can tow.  We had several Model 3s, Model Xs, Konas, Leafs and a Niro and Smart car.

The overall mood was extremely positive, most people we spoke to were thinking about their next car being an EV and unlike previous events, most did not voice objections as to why an EV would not be suitable. The majority of people we talked to about their interactions with EVs had never driven in one, though largely people fell into two distinct camps of either: (a) knowing nothing about them, or (b) already owning one and/or considering one for their next car.

Northland Field Day in Whangarei

The Northpower site was front and centre, so everyone entering the gate saw Northpower’s display where a Model 3 was a magnet—almost everyone detouring to check it out. 

Field days actually runs for three days, but the EV display was on Saturday.  From 08:00 to 14:00 foot traffic was non-stop, then it tapered off but still steady.    We estimate we each spoke to 5 people per hour.  So at least 35 people each so easy 100 persons for the day.  There were no Test Drives, but I did give out my card and have been contacted by two people interested in Test Drives which I have arranged with Model 3 owners in Whangarei. 

The EVs on display were  the Tesla Model 3 (provided by Huband Energy) and the Kona, Ioniq and Nissan van belonging to Northpower

General EV knowledge seems to have matured. There were not many questions about charging stations (people now see these in public.)  Questions on how long to charge at home, and if you need to upgrade your house wiring to charge at home (but many understood that you have all night to charge slowly.)  Most now accept that their next car will be an EV, it is not a question of if they will buy but when they can afford one.  It is still important for us to reinforce the Total Cost of Ownership, because EVs will always be more expensive initially than an ICE car. (I think EVs will always be more expensive, simply because they are better cars, just like the iPhone 10 is more expensive than the iPhone 9 because it is better, but cheaper to build).

We fielded lots of questions on batteries: how long they last, how to re-use and how to re-cycle.  There were some questions on Cobalt.  And some questions on "not enough electric in NZ grid to charge all the cars" — misinformation on how much grid line losses and battery charging losses.  I think people were getting confused with the report from the Commerce Commission which showed a 50% increase in electric usage by 2050. But this includes Fonterra converting all the coal to electricity along with other industry.  So again misinformation about how much energy to charge EVs. All these are easily explained but not in 5 minutes.

Some people were trying to make comparison with ICE vs EVs without taking into account Wheel to Oil Well energy losses.  EVs have all losses built in, because we measure kWh at the meter, i.e. energy delivered to the car.    However, with petrol, we don’t count the energy used to drill, extract, pump into a tanker, ship to refinery, pump out to refinery storage, pump and heating to refine, more pumping, more shipping, more trucking or pipeline to next level of distribution… etc…

We had some hydrogen believers who were not aware that there is currently approx 75% losses converting Water into H2 and then into electricity.  “H2 is the Future and always will be,  so I support Hydrogen because this is an option to ICE," some remarked.

We had 2 or 3 people understanding that V2G will make a huge difference with integrating more renewables ie Wind and Solar into the grid.

Report by Joe Camuso, Northpower (current 2019 EV Champion of NZ)


Horowhenua Vintage Car Club Talk at Levin

We were approached at a vintage car club if we could give a presentation to the club on EVs and get a few EVs along. Local EV Champion, Donald Love, put a request out for local owners and had a good response with: 2 x Tesla, Renault Zoe, two older Leafs, new 40 kWh Leaf, Zero motorbike and Kona by local owners. Electra brought along their LDV 80 van and also an Ioniq.

The talk was held at one of their monthly meetings where we initially had about 30 minutes looking around the cars, then gathered inside for a formal introduction and about 20 minutes for the talk. Then, rather than have questions inside, we went back outside while still light for another look at the cars.

They were appreciative of the range of EVs that showed up and many were quite attentive during the talk. They were not intending to rush out and buy an EV but there was genuine interest in the technology and myths were dispelled.


The cost of new EVs was seen as a major barrier. I tried to show you were getting high performance for your money but only a few had that focus. Their Chairman Des told me his Morris 8 had a factory specified 0-61 mph time of 1 minute and 6 seconds.

Less than 10% of the audience had ridden in an EV, less than 5% had driven in an EV or knew an EV owner!

The volunteer EV owners enjoyed talking about their vehicles. The evening format didn't lend itself to rides or drives but a lot of info was shared.  It was a privilege to be asked to talk to an older style of club with fairly formal processes. The old Shell petrol pumps in the photo highlight the old school of motoring and yet they appreciated the electric origins.




Rotary Martinborough Fair 

The change of site within the Fair from the February Fair (each year they hold two fairs on consecutive months) was welcomed as it was inside the main Fair although still on a side street, allowing for 'ride experience cars' to come and go.

The EECA gazebo was reserved for people as we needed shade from the heat. On display was a new Nissan Leaf demonstrator loaned by local Nissan dealer, Southeys who delivered and picked up, giving a brilliant service. Also on display a Zero motorcycle, a Model 3 and a BMW i3 REX. In addition, down the middle of street, BNT Trustee Sigurd Magnusson's Model 3, an older Nissan Leaf, then three more Model 3 for rides.

We had a steady attendance and the rides proved very popular and the overall discussion quite positive. For some people money was not an issue ("always buy a new car") and we could show there was a good range now ("don't want to buy Japanese, only European".) The Model 3 owners were fantastic chatting for the whole 8 hours (one car swapping with another part way through to keep 5 available). The Zero owner also has a Leaf and also managed the full 8 hours which is quite a marathon.

The questions we answered were the usual: What cars are available in NZ? How much are they? How long is the battery life and what replacement options are there? How long does it take to charge? and Where can you charge an EV?

With the location being down the end of side street it is not the best location for getting maximum crowds but was the only realistic place for a very busy Fair, especially if we wanted to give rides. The 140 people who went for the rides nearly all came back with big smiles.

Attendance waned after about 3pm which was far better than in February when very few came after 11:30 (although first 3.5 hours then were busier). The myth buster posters hanging from the marquee well worthwhile for self help. Overall a very positive event.

Newton Fair in Wellington

The location in Rintoul Street is excellent for access with Rotary and the council removing parked cars inside the cordon. We weren't able to set up until the stall holders have left after 8:30 and had to wait beyond that for a few more vehicles to be towed. I picked up a new Nissan Leaf from the local dealer Gazeleys at 8:30 and we laid out the display with marquee in the middle (leaving room for emergency services to pass.) The Zero motorcycle close to the marquee and the Leaf alongside with a gap for pedestrians and cones around front of the car to ensure not hit with the occasional cyclist.

As we were situated on the edge of the fair we didn't get the main passing crowds but were on one of the access points. A flag at the next intersection inside the fair with a message saying come to the stall to see the Model 3 helped draw people to the marquee.

A Tesla Model 3 was positioned in front of marquee to one side and then the two other Model 3 for rides behind the marquee which had plenty of room for turning around. It was moderately quiet for the first hour then attendance rose and remained steady until about 4pm. We put a call out for more local EV owners to come along and get an easy park and just chat but got minimal response apart from one regular champion who did most of the afternoon. The second Model 3 for rides managed to stay for much of the day and was really appreciated as we would have been too busy with just one.

Overall six people "manned" the stand for much of the day including the drivers for rides which was enough but it would be nice if we could share the load a bit more as the full 8 hours, especially in the hot sun, is a fair bit of work. As at Martinborough it was important to have the marquee clear of cars so that people could get shade if they needed it. The myth buster posters and A3 copies of Sig's guide page 3 and 4 hanging from the marquee were answering questions when we were busy.

The local paper reported there was an 80,000 attendance at the Fair. We spoke to approx 250 – 300 people and gave almost 100 rides.

[image courtesy of Stuff/Dominion Post/Rosa Woods]


Previous EVents

During February, we had stands at the following EVents:

  • Joint stand with Counties Power at the Franklin A&P Show
  • Petone Fair
  • Te Kowhai Fair

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.