More charging stations but only 1900 all-electric cars in NZ

Rotorua's electric car charger on Haupapa St is one of dozens being rolled out across New Zealand.
BENN BATHGATE/FAIRFAX NZ

Rotorua's electric car charger on Haupapa St is one of dozens being rolled out across New Zealand.

New fast charging stations and better batteries are improving the distance all-electric cars can travel.

Three more stations were opened in Christchurch and Akaroa in partnership with ChargeNet NZ and electricity companies, adding to a surge of new ones around the country in recent weeks.

There are only 1900 fully electric cars but ChargeNet NZ chief executive Steve West stands by industry forecasts of 64,000 by 2021.

The new all-electric Ionic (letf) to be launched in New Zealand in February has a 200km range. The model on the right is ...
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The new all-electric Ionic (letf) to be launched in New Zealand in February has a 200km range. The model on the right is a electric-petrol hybrid.

His company has installed more than half the 50 fast charge stations around the country, costing about $60,000 each and capable of fast charging to 80 per cent in 20 minutes for about $14. 

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"The first thing people ask is whether they can drive from Auckland to Wellington. We want that to become 'yes' to anywhere in New Zealand."

West has a list of small town roll outs planned in coming weeks, and other companies like Auckland-based Vector has launched a computer app giving directions to many stations.

Hybrid electric-petrol cars still remain a preference for taxi fleets. Some can be plugged in, mostly for slow overnight charging. 

"A hybrid car is a smart choice for many people. More hybrids can take fast charging but most don't because they don't need it while there's a petrol backup," West said.

Automobile Association's senior policy analyst Mark Stockdale said more charging stations would boost the all-electric car market and they would become cheaper as imported vehicles were available.   

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Manufacturers were improving batteries every year, Stockdale said.

The 120kilometres battery capacity of top selling all-electrical vehicle Nissan Leaf had been overtaken by other models such as Tesla cars which have more than twice that range but were more expensive, he said.

Latest fast chargers include one at New World Northwood supermarket, Christchurch, and two at Akaroa in partnership with ChargeNet and the Orion lines company. Information about car models, range and performance is available on Orion's web site.

ChargeNet's web site has links to other related sites like Plugshare.com which has maps of charging stations including privately-owned alternating current slow chargers, and government sector ones. Slow charge stations are often free.

Next April enthusiasts including Steve West will run another road trip from the top of the North Island to Bluff to promote electric cars.

 - Stuff

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