Motor firms roll out their electric cars

22:26, May 13 2009
CHARGED UP: Lloyd Robinson, of Mitsubishi Motors, with its prototype electric car, the iMiEV.

The future of fully electric cars has come a step closer after two motoring giants introduced their development models with each camp touting theirs as the superior model.

However, the Automobile Association has advised that neither model has yet gained a safety rating, a crucial requirement if they are to be driven on New Zealand roads.

Hyundai's Electrons Hyundai Getz model, retrofitted with batteries and an electric motor, was officially introduced yesterday, two hours before a prototype Mitsubishi iMiEV was unveiled at Wellington's Karori Sanctuary.

PLUGGING IN: Australian Ross Blade with one of his retro-fitted BEV (blade electric vehicles).

Both vehicles can be charged at a normal power point, can travel between 120km and 160km on one charge, and reach 130kmh.

AA general manager of technical services Stella Stocks said yesterday that it was keeping a "watching brief" on the introduction of electric cars.

"Our main concern is for their safety," she said. "The biggest question will always be what is its safety rating?"


Ms Stocks said electric cars weighed significantly less than conventional cars, were quiet and therefore a risk to pedestrians. Frontal impact safety of the cars had not been tested.

Mitsubishi NZ managing director John Leighton said his firm's cars would probably go on sale to the public next year. Their price was yet to be set.

"As with any new technology, it will be more expensive in the beginning," he said.

However, Meridian Energy electric vehicle programme leader K-J Dillon said the only extra cost to the motorist was "about the price of a cup of coffee" for each car charge.

Most users would need to charge their electric car only a couple of times a week.

Hyundai Motors NZ executive director Philip Eustace said three Electrons had been sold before yesterday's official introduction one last year to a private owner and the other two to a "a major energy company" that he would not name.

The vehicles were not yet in full production but once they were, Hyundai hoped to sell models for $45,000 to $50,000.

Mitsubishi iMiEV

Capacity: Four adults

Cost: About 'the price of a cup of coffee' each charge (about seven hours) and most users would need to charge only a couple of times a week.

Max speed: 130kmh

Range: 160km

Hyundai's Electrons Hyundai Getz

Capacity: Four adults

Cost: A full charge takes nine hours and costs about the same as running a fridge over that time ($100 a year, according to the Energywise website).

Max speed: 120kmh

Range: 120km



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