Air New Zealand to have country's largest electric vehicle fleet

Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon (left), with Transport Minister Simon Bridges, says the airline has ...

Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon (left), with Transport Minister Simon Bridges, says the airline has directly imported some of the electric vehicles it wants, as they aren't stocked in New Zealand.

There may be no alternative to using carbon-based fuels to power aircraft, but Air New Zealand is switching to electric vehicles on the ground.

The airline is buying 36 fully-electric cars from BMW and 12 plug-in hybrid Mitsubishi SUVs for its sales staff.

It is also directly importing 28 fully-electric vans from Renault for use at airports.

Air New Zealand said in a statement that it believed its fleet of 76 electric vehicles would be the largest in New Zealand and would save about 65,000 litres of fuel per year.

READ MORE: NZ switch to electric vehicles stalls after Nissan pulls plug on NZ Leaf sales

For comparison, that is enough to half-fill the fuel tanks of a 787 Dreamliner, according to plane-maker Boeing.

Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said the move reflected its commitment to "sustainability and carbon reduction across the business".

"We recognise the opportunity electric vehicles present both for New Zealand and our airline and we are making the most of the country's renewable electricity supply by transitioning our ground fleet off fossil fuels where we're able to," he said.

Mark Gilbert, chairman of electric vehicle lobby group Drive Electric, said this month that companies wanted to buy more electric vehicles but had been left with fewer affordable options after Nissan withdrew its Nissan Leaf electric car from sale in New Zealand last year.

Bridges is expected to announce additional measures to support the greater take-up of electric vehicles within the new few weeks.

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