'Futurism' steals show at electric vehicle charge station opening in Thames

Thames man Roald Barthow charges his car using the new electric vehicle charger at the Thames District Library car park.
TERESA RAMSEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Thames man Roald Barthow charges his car using the new electric vehicle charger at the Thames District Library car park.

Times have certainly changed for 89-year-old Roald Barthow.

His first mode of transport was a Shetland pony, which gave him a rather interesting ride to school at times.

He remembers when his family bought their first vehicle, a Fargo one tonne truck. He learnt to drive in it before getting his first car, a 1938 Hillman 14.

Now the Thames man, who has had his driver's licence for more than 70 years, drives a fully electric Nissan Leaf, and he loves it.

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"It does zero to 100[km] in 10 seconds. If you put your foot down, you're off like a rocket," he said.

The car takes him 130km before needing to be charged, enough to get him to Auckland, he said.

The former dairy farmer decided to buy the electric car after attending an environmental seminar many years ago.

"I think it's good for the environment. You've got to do something about it instead of just talk," he said.

Barthow was the star of the new electric vehicle charger launch in the Thames District Library carpark in Mackay St on Friday.

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The charge station was a joint project between Powerco and Charge Net NZ, in collaboration with the Thames-Coromandel District Council.

Barthow thought the public charger was a great idea and would like to see more chargers around the Coromandel Peninsula.

The charger was officially launched by Minister of Transport Simon Bridges, who said it was amazing that Barthow had an electric car at nearly 90-years-old.

"I'm in awe of your futurism," Bridges said.

It was fantastic that electric vehicle charging stations were going up all over New Zealand, he said.

"I think EVs are a really big part of the future but I go further than that, the future is here now," he told the crowd at the opening.

New Zealanders were plugging their cars in with clean, green renewable energy, he said.

The charging station was fantastic for Thames-Coromandel to help grow its tourism industry, he said.

"I don't think it's going to be the last charging station, I think you'll have dozens of these."

Thames Community Board chairman Strat Peters said it was special to have an electric vehicle charger in Thames.

"The good thing about this site was that it's just so close to everything in our town in relationship to people coming here," he said.

 - Stuff

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