In August 2016, the then-National government set a target for New Zealand to have 64,000 electric vehicles (EVs) by 2021. The target may have seemed ambitious – there were only 1,400 EVs in the country at the time the target was set – but we seem to be on track.

The Ministry of Transport reports EV registrations on a monthly basis, and there are now more than 6,000 registered EVs as at the end of 2017. If the number keeps doubling each year (as it has so far), the number in the fleet would get to 96,000 by the end of 2021. The tricky bit will be the next few years, trying to climb further up the exponential curve.

Some interesting findings come out of the Ministry’s data:

  • 74% of the EVs registered so far have been electric-only, with the other 26% being ‘plug-in hybrids’
  • Half of the EVs so far have been registered in Auckland
  • 60% were ‘used imports’ rather than new. Almost all used imports were from Japan.
  • EVs are now making up 1% of all vehicle registrations (and close to 1.5% in the last three months)
  • The Nissan Leaf is by far the most common EV, 46% of all registrations so far. Next on the list is the Mitsubishi Outlander, a plug-in hybrid SUV which has been pretty popular (14% of registrations so far)
  • The average EV drives 12,900 km a year.

Used vs New

So, 60% of the EVs entering the fleet are “used” rather than “new”. Maybe that’s not surprising: most of the cars imported into NZ are second-hand, and that’s been the case since the sector was deregulated 30 years ago. But a few years back, it was uncertain how many second-hand EVs would be around to enter the NZ market.

The people who bought them new (in ‘early adopter’ countries like Japan, where most of our used cars come from) might have hung onto them. In Japan, where it’s pretty expensive to buy and run a petrol car (taxes etc), there are lots of financial incentives to drive EVs instead. Even so, a few thousand have already made their way to New Zealand; maybe the original buyers have traded up to even newer EV models.

As such, EV uptake here is quite dependent on how fast Japanese consumers are buying and then selling EVs. The Ministry sees some headwinds here, as apparently the Japanese EV fleet is growing quite slowly. However, the NZ government is starting to boost its own purchases of EVs, and there will be quite a few new models available in the market in the next few years – e.g. the new 2018 Leaf, Tesla finally starting to open stores here (and launching their Model 3), etc. We’ve got a way to go yet.

Fully Electric vs Plug-in Hybrid

The other finding – and this is a global one, not just NZ – is that fully electric EVs have dominated sales compared with plug-in hybrids. Again, this wasn’t really expected a few years back. Part of the appeal of electric technology is that it can get rolled out incrementally: a pathway from traditional cars through to hybrids like the Prius, through to plug-in hybrids, through to fully electric EVs. Instead, many manufacturers have skipped straight to the last step.

Travel

At a touch under 13,000 km a year, EVs are driven for roughly the same distance as the average new-ish vehicle. That’s a good early sign. For a given EV, you’d want it to replace as many petrol-fuelled kilometres as possible, to maximise the emissions reduction and so that the EV owner can offset more of the high purchase price for these cars. These results suggest that EV owners aren’t getting too hung up on ‘range anxiety’, and are maximising the use of their electric cars.

EVs, Emissions and Congestion

Electric vehicles are very well suited to New Zealand – our electricity is mainly renewable, so they’re very low emissions compared to other vehicles. However, I don’t think any post on EVs is complete without a reminder that they don’t help solve the other problem with car-based transport: congestion. In a growing city like Auckland, we’ll need to focus on public and active transport, rather than how our cars are powered.

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78 comments

  1. Certainly seeing a lot more Leafs around now.

    Perhaps the new gov would like to amend the target to include the accelerating sales of e-bikes though. From memory those are up past 20k per annum and climbing.

    1. Great idea, I’d love to see something in there about e-bikes. There’s huge potential, in conjunction with a continued rollout of cycleways and lanes. I haven’t actually seen sales figures for e-bikes reported – do you have a link?

  2. The government has promised EVs will be free of Road User Charges whilst they make up less than 2% of the vehicle fleet. Does GA have any figures and time projections/estimates on these numbers?

      1. Given Infratil announced today that it is looking to flog off its NZ Bus division now that the PTOM/”New Network” contracts for Auckland and Wellington are locked and loaded for the best part of the next decade.

        Maybe if a Chinese Company with an Electric Bus manufacturing division [and there are a few of those] buys NZ Bus – then who knows – maybe we could get a bunch of them gliding around the place.

        But I would not hold out much hope that either NZ Bus or its eventual new owner(s) will be spending money on “expensive” electric buses anytime soon. They’ll be trying to make operational savings in other ways to meet their contracts and ensure profits.

    1. I did some quick number-crunching, it roughly works out to around 2021. About three million light vehicles in the fleet, so 64,000 is around 2%.

    2. Last Government announced, then extended this target, and now it has to be reached by 2021.
      No RUCs on EV’s til then or 2% of the fleet.

      [Last] Government also has announced [in September 2017] that no RUCs for EV heavy trucks until they make up 2% of the heavy vehicle fleet.

      Which could spur a lot of investments in electric trucks for early adopters anyway. At the expense of the cost of fixing up the roads being damaged by said trucks in the meantime. Which everyone else using roads effectively pays for – as if the trucking lobby needs any more subsidies.

      1. Maybe we could think ahead and have a RUC charge based on GPS tracking so this could be all automatic instead of manual system of having to purchase km.

  3. Interesting that the km/year travelled is about the same.

    As EVs have higher upfront costs, but lower running costs, they are more suited to those that do higher kms. I’d expect high mileage users to be higher adopters of these, just like taxi fleets were higher adopters of CNG and the like.

    Perhaps the range anxiety counters this, but you think taxi drivers would easily memorise the location of fast chargers for a quick refill to 80%. CNG has lower range than petrol too.

    1. I understood fast charging a battery regularly would shorten it’s life? If so then EVs would best suit people doing a reasonable amount of travel but not so much that they couldn’t do most of their charging overnight.

      Also I suspect many EV owners are just regular car users with enough disposable income to have a more environmentally friendly mindset.

      1. Evidence to date is showing (at least for the leafs) that calendar age has the biggest impact on battery life, rather that kms driven, cycles or fast charging. In fact batteries that are used more seem to be holding up better, which is actually a fantastic outcome as the life of some of these cars is far higher than people think. My 2014 leaf is on 94% battery health with 37,000ks done. It should last a very long time.

      2. Evidence so far is the batteries are lasting up to 100’000miles with 90-94% battery capacity which isn’t that bad (Tesla Model 3 anyways). But I guess it remains to be seen as they are still relatively new.

        The Leafs do come with reasonable guarantees on theirs, but I don’t know anyone personally who would want to be seen in a leaf (pure appearance reasons).

    2. Quite right. I did have my first ride in a Nissan Leaf taxi a couple of months ago though!

      Taxis (and Uber drivers) are understandably quite cost focused – if a vehicle gives them lower total costs, they’ll switch to it en masse. You’ll notice that just about every taxi these days is a Prius – the cost saving from using less petrol makes up for the higher cost of the vehicle. As soon as EVs stack up on with this equation, taxis will be some of the biggest adopters.

          1. Wow, so assuming you set yourself up as a company, 19,000 over five years in registration tax savings. Then for a taxi the Central government gives you 5k, then in Amsterdam the local government gives another 5 for 29000 euro in total. That takes a bit off the 71k purchase price

  4. Interesting to see a new technology take off. Will EVs be like commercial passenger flight or like the abortive Airship industry? I’m optimistic but it is unlikely the answer will emerge in NZ; we should be looking at reasonable sized countries without oil, without distorting subsidies and with good electricity supply. At a guess France – although their traditional manufacturers of cars may be a drag on innovation. Maybe Portugal?

    Having recently studied the coming of the railways with their astonishing explosive growth after 1830 I can see similarities with EVs – both have been around for over 100 years with many false starts; both had technical issues to surmount (steam engines used to explode) where a small change suddenly makes an industry viable.

    Hopefully prices and problems with batteries will be resolved and maybe in 10 years time everyone will be driving EVs except for heritage buffs. My worry is the vastly increased demand for electricity – will solar technology keep improving its price & performance or will it be back to increasing carbon based power generation?

    1. There is ample renewable generation consented in N.Z. just waiting for the power price rise to a point where generators will get a sufficient return on investment.

      Solar though is not a good match to N.Z. demand patterns, and people returning home to charge up their cars overnight will not help solar at all.

      1. Dan, do you have a link about that potential renewable generation?
        I thought there were objections to putting more dams on rivers. Do you mean wind (debateable value?) or geo-thermal or even solar to pump water back up into dams or tidal (must be major potential but the scale involved would mean very long lead times) or something else?

        1. The MBIE electricity cost model here contains almost all consented projects, by fuel type. https://www.google.co.nz/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/energy/energy-data-modelling/modelling/electricity-lrmc-model.xlsm&ved=2ahUKEwjdoYmniJbZAhWGXLwKHZoaBBgQFjADegQIDxAB&usg=AOvVaw1xnIjMfXjZFGfoVXI8OXeb

          There’s ample projects ready to go. Estimates are that full light and heavy fleet conversion to EVs would add ~25% to current demand, or another 10TWh. If it happened over a decade or more it will easily be managed.

          1. Don’t also forget that if the Tiwai Points smelter closes there will be large amounts of excess electricity. Yes, another Cook Strait cable would be needed, but the power generation would be available…

    2. “My worry is the vastly increased demand for electricity – will solar technology keep improving its price & performance or will it be back to increasing carbon based power generation?” Agree.

      In manufacturing and freight transport, we need to contract – more energy is powering more pollution. EV, though, is a good element in a modern transport strategy, as it has so many benefits.

      I see the limitations of PV (structuring your life to use electricity when the sun shines; prioritising appliances) and of EV (thinking ahead about driving patterns) as positive ways to connect people to what they are actually doing. It provides a natural restraint.

      Plus in nz there’s a lovely cross-fertilisation of ideas happening as car enthusiasts and energy conservationists are joining forces on projects. Like importing a crashed Leaf from Japan and using its electric battery and motor, etc, to electrify an older petrol car.

    3. Companies are already embracing electric vehicles, so its not if but when. The biggest constraint at the moment is battery production keeping up with demand.

      Tesla has obviously kicked the industry into overdrive, and it cannot even keep up with demand.

      Now some of the major companies are beginning to, or are outpacing Tesla in production of electric vehicles, below is a list of a few companies currently producing the vehicles;

      Nissan
      Chev (GM also owns holden)
      BMW
      Audi
      Fiat
      Ford
      Honda
      Hyundai
      Kia
      Mercedes-Benz
      Mitsubishi
      Peugeot
      Renualt
      Volkswagen
      Toyota
      Subaru

      That is only who I can think of, doesn’t include any of the Chinese makers. And China is currently got the biggest fleet of electric vehicles in use which is the biggest sign that its happening.

      Also FormulaE is becoming massive in the racing world.

  5. Those EV numbers are boosted quite a bit by NZ Post purchase of the Paxster 1 person electric delivery vehicles that are in use as replacements for the old postie bikes and motorbikes.

    And these in total are quite a chunk of the total so as a growth driver this impact will mostly be tapering off as these are all put into service.

    Even with the numbers of EVs we have its a fraction of the desired target. But given we have zero incentives to purchase one except an allowance of using NZTA bus/freight T2 lanes and no RUCs for now and thats your lot. Its amazing we have as many as we do.

    It is a little concerning that so many aged second hand Leaf’s are being imported as their battery packs will be on the way out with the effective usable EV range quite a lot lower than when it was new.
    And so eventually the battery will need to be replaced or [more likely] the vehicle scrapped.
    We don’t have very good post consumer recycling programs for most complex products in NZ at end of life.
    And EV battery recycling is going to need to be addressed. Of course who pays to have that EV battery removed and recycled is another matter.

    I have worked out that currently with my hybrid [non plugin] petrol car that I’m competitive with EVs for fuel running costs given I pay about 10 cents a km in fuel as I get 5 litres/100km and I buy petrol at $2.00 a litre inc GST and pay no RUCs.

    If I had an EV I’d end up paying 6 cents a km in RUCs once that RUC exemption is removed in 2021 or so plus my per-km electricity cost, which depending on your electricity plan and your EV’s efficiency could be as high as 8 cents a km in electricity costs or lower than 4-5 cents a km if on a more average power rate. Of course if you have an overnight electricity rate and/or solar panels, you could charge for even less than that.

    It would seem stupid to end up with a situation where EVs have a RUC regime that makes them the same or even more expensive to run per km than Fossil Fueled petrol vehicles. But we could end up going there. If NZTA et al don’t watch it.
    Despite the fact that its not EVs that are freeloading or being subsidised [Hint: its the heavy vehicles that are doing that] as some recent news story would have you believe.

    Note: If you do have an EV now, Meridian [the Electricity retailer] has a very good EV “add-on” power plan, which if you are one of their customers and you live in the right parts of NZ (Vector, Wellington Electricity, Orion, Powerco, Aurora & Unison lines company areas), they can give you very cheap overnight power to, amongst other things, charge your EV with, at a way better rate than what other “green” retailers like Mercury or Ecotricity offer EV owners.
    See here for the details, and here for the rates for those regions.
    Note: I’ve got nothing to do with Meridian, but they seem to “get it” more than most power companies.

    Hopefully with the electricity market review the government has just requested they will look at ensuring time of use power pricing regimes become common so that the power companies don’t penalise EV owners with badly designed “same price all day” pricing plans when the country should be encouraging overnight charging to maximise the renewables portion of our overall electricity use.

    1. Thanks Greg. Until reading your comment I hadn’t considered the incentive our power companies have in encouraging EVs. With solar prices plunging public consumption of their electric power must be under threat. Given power companies are among the largest businesses in NZ [which rather says something about NZ’s low exports, low productivity and low innovation] then they are likely to have quite an impact as EV ownership increases.

      1. EV charging is going to be a large part of the power retailers future “sales” growth plans.
        But many don’t have a “killer proposition” that makes consumers buy power from them.
        As electricity is the ultimate commodity good – its all sourced from the same pipe, and its only the packaging which you actually get any choice on.

        And Power Cos of all stripes see the growth of home solar as a potential threat.
        But they also recognise, that most people want someone else to manage it for them. And so they may move into this area sooner than later.

        While Home Solar has a part to play, but you’ll need a lot of solar panels (and/or some decent battery storage) to maximise the benefits of it and/or charge the EV from the panels for the average home solar installation. And its not as cheap as it should be.

        Using your EV as a battery storage device for your solar sounds like a win/win, but is not there yet and most peoples EVs are not parked & plugged in at home all day to benefit with using their home solar power yet anyway. Once the “grid” becomes properly two-way then your EV can charge up at work, or wherever it is pugged in, using power sourced from your solar panels [or batteries] at home, with you paying a “transmission” charge only on that transferred electricity. But thats likely a few years away at best. But is the likely future we will see.

        Regardless we need to be a lot smarter about using EVs to lower transport emissions as they are a large chunk of our overall emissions and also, are one large chunk we can, and, have to do something about.

        Just seems these plans are all so, timid – at best.

        1. What bemuses me is that the cost of pv and battery storage is always scrutinised so closely, with damning discouragement of any investment in something not yet optimised… Meanwhile people choose expensive cars, or multiple cars, or toys like jetskis, or overseas holidays, (or at an extreme, take helicopter flights to get to holiday destinations) none of which are anywhere near energy optimised.

          The decision to invest in an EV vehicle is praised as a step forward. The decision to spend that money instead on pv and battery storage, and give up having a car, is not praised but questioned, despite the obvious energy use reduction.

          1. Well a jetski and holidays are fun and an end in themselves, they are why people go to work to earn money.

            PV and batteries… well i don’t know anyone who said instead of going away this summer they decided to stay home and stare at their PV panels.

            Generating electricity is just a means to an end. If it’s not going to pay for itself, but you want to spend the money anyway to save the planet, then you have to ask wouldn’t you be better off buying carbon offsets, given the NZ grid is 80% renewable already?

          2. +1 to Dan. Buying PV and storage is an attempt to optimize energy, therefore, it is criticized on the basis of not optimizing energy.

            Buying a jet ski is an attempt to optimize joy (though there are plenty of reasons to believe it’s a shitty purchase on that basis, I think that the median jet ski owner uses it less than 10 hours in their entire period of ownership) and spends over $5,000 in repairs and depreciation.

          3. Giving up a car is a clear energy use reduction, and should absolutely be praised :-). Likewise, battery storage has great potential to slot in with variable power sources like wind or solar.

            I’m still not convinced that solar will have large scale applications in NZ, but my view on that has already softened a bit as the cost of panels keeps dropping. Solar will suit some applications anyway (daytime power users, remote locations), and the other main issue to address is the extent to which it forces the costs of maintaining the power grid onto other users (or onto the same users, but over fewer units of electricity).

          4. Organising household resiliency and the knowledge and connection that comes with monitoring energy production and use is more fun for some than engaging in energy-wasteful lifestyle choices.

            We have enough depression in NZ to try to solve and much of it comes from helplessness around the state of the planet, worsened by disconnection from the systems that sustain us. Getting involved in energy and food production in a practical way has been shown to be a good path to preventing and minimising depression.

            Meanwhile, the only reason the price of green technology comes down is because someone is buying it, thus supporting the innovators.

            I think EV is great. I think reducing our fleet of cars is even better.

          5. Solar is a good fit for rural locations where electricity use can be banked by pumping water to higher tanks or heating a store of hot water. Plus rural households typically have an earlier power cycle with reduced night time lighting and water heating demand.

            Due to global warming, solar will be an increasingly good fit in the North (where over 50% of kiwis live). Running air conditioning off of solar would be ideal.

          6. Work-place based PV for charging EV must surely be a good fit, too? I’ll update you after I’ve had a full winter with our PV, but there is a lot an urban home can do to use the PV energy when it’s produced, removing that demand from the peak period.

          7. Problem with work based charging is you are using expensive day time electricity. Most people will want to charge at home on a cheap overnight rate.

            Unless employers start offering free charging at work to subsidise drivers, someone else paying for your power is always popular!

          8. Just realised you are talking about work having PV panels to charge the cars. That would work for a warehouse with few employees, cause it’s going to be a huge array needed to charge a bunch of cars.

            Lets say you have a standard 40amp 10kW 6 hour Leaf charger. That needs 40 250watt PV panels to charge it in the midday sun. If you have ten users, 400 panels. If you want to charge in the morning or cloudy days, 800 panels?

            On the other hand most employees aren’t going to need a full charge, if you could stagger it a bit with timers that would help allot.

            I imagine most workplaces are going to be charging mostly from grid power.

          9. Yes, the array required for one vehicle is quite a lot, but I suppose that’s just the reality of how much energy a car uses. As part of a mixed modal transport strategy, there doesn’t seem to be a downside to using workplace roof space for this. Except perhaps that if the workplace is using a lot of electricity during the day, they may prefer to use that electricity themselves.

            And my overall point is that with a bit of clever thinking, PV can be a big part of our energy planning. I heat my water when the sun is shining. I could also heat it at 4 in the morning when demand is low, from my battery. I can install storage heaters and use sunshine time electricity to heat them, then use that heat at peak evening time without any energy use. Delay starts on washing machines, dishwashers, bread makers all contribute to a household’s optimising the use of sunshine time electricity…

            PV is a perfect complement to hydro. If pv increases our overall energy production, reduces the grid demand even at peak times (as in my house where we use no peak time electricity), and prevents further damaging hydro schemes, it’s all good, and worth investing in.

          10. Yes but we work for a living to enjoy life. JETSKIS, Overseas holidays, helicopter rides, provide joy to many. Personally I take a boat and rod. But I will never be critical of people spending money on enjoyment, investing in yourself is important.

    2. You’re assuming you wont pay RUCs on your hybrid in 2021 – I wouldn’t be surprised if they apply RUCs to all cars as fuel tax will become less and less meaningful.

    3. Agreed that the RUC once they come in will be too high if set at current levels – they’re really too high for diesel vehicles as well nowadays really from a cost perspective. I think increasing petrol/diesel costs to correctly account for carbon emissions may bring things in to balance.

      (The other thing to account for in costs is maintenance. EVs have significantly lower maintenance costs as the drive train is essentially a battery and electric motor.)

  6. My Leaf is 2015 purchased for $17k, made economic sense to purchase, and I love it. It’s a bit of a worry that half of the vehicles are Leafs (Leaves?). It will only take a minor supply disruption in Japan to drive up 2nd hand Leaf prices, then that graph won’t look so exponential. Essentially we buy cheap Leaf’s off the back of Japanese domestic tax write offs and subsidies (I guess that helps explain why our government are in no hurry with our own subsidies). I would be looking at a 5 year time scale, rather then 3, when all those second hand eGolfs, Ioniqs, Teslas etc come onto the market, then i’ll look at the graph.

    1. Apparently 2nd hand Leaf prices have risen by about 2-3K NZD In the last couple of months,

      So it will be interesting to watch monthly registrations to see if it makes a dent,

      But Leafs from the UK are a growing option too, esp if Japan prices continue to rise.

  7. As it stands EV’s are still quite half baked. They are a brilliant idea with a lot of potential but are very limited in what they can achieve.

    A series 1 Nissan Leaf has a very limited range and as in all good things of smart technology there are a lot of issues lurking that the manufacturers know but never mention.

    More than any other vehicle the EV is defined by just one component, its battery. You simply cannot buy an EV car using a petrol car purchase mentality. Replacement batteries are priced at more than the price of a low mileage used Leaf and the early series are troubled by temperature extremes that degrade and already degradable item. What it translates into is taking what is a very limited range as of new and turning into even worse range as it ages. The stats say there are very few batteries replaced but when one considers it out values the entire car one can see why they are not replaced. And this absolutely reflects resale. How many people buy these things unwittingly, how many people are duped?.

    These are a car that you really really need to do your homework on because to fork out big bucks to buy a series 2, for example, to save on running costs may actually be far worse financially long term than a much cheaper low mileage petrol car. And unless you have money to burn, resale is a very important factor.

    5 years from now however, they may be a totally different proposition.

    1. If people are being duped they are staying quiet about it. Which can happen – plenty of house buyers lost money buying and selling in the last 15 years but it is rarely mentioned.
      My guess is families with multiple vehicles buy an EV to feel rather virtuous but then discover most regular journeys are short in Auckland, the vehicle is quiet and doesn’t waste fuel when sitting in congestion. And the EV is cheaper to run so they leave the big SUV in the garage for use at weekends. The minimal maintenance costs will be persuasive too – the usual sub $5k petrol car tends to randomly chew money when serviced.
      I’m not buying but remain interested. BTW the family in Auckland own 5 cars, all 2nd hand.

    2. I just can’t agree with this at all Waspy. Most journeys are very short. Range anxiety is much more of an idea than a real problem, 200-300kms is generally (i.e. for most city drivers) only ever tested on rare trips out of town. And for many households an EV is a second car anyway.

      Where i do agree with you, i.e. where they are going to improve, is price. Though canny kiwis are already self-improving with 2nd hand imports; a $17k Leaf is a steal.

      EVs are already at cost parity (i.e. running + capital cost) with guzzlers, and soon will be at price parity, when this happens (say 2020) they will quickly become the obvious, i.e. normal, choice for everyday car users. Bye-bye gas stations. The liquid fuels industry is about to get disrupted big time.

      And like all dominant incumbents at this stage in the disruption cycle they are blithely overconfident; they make the mistake of focussing on the 1% quantum, not the exponential trend…. so it goes, just ask big coal, just ask Kodak….

      Funnily enough my problem as a classic early adopter is that our household has reduced our driving so effectively that we barely can scrape together 8km a year from our one remaining car… making the running cost saving smaller… hell i haven’t even got an e-bike yet! Might get both this year though… The little Zoe looks good, but is overpriced here, as is the e-Golf.

      1. The transition will happen faster than people think, subject to us getting access to enough used imports at a decent price. When you can drive for 2.5c /km it’s a no brainer. The capital on my leaf will be paid for with 6 years of fuel and Pt savings. The bit I don’t like is it means I’m not using PT because I can get to work and back for $1.80 elecricity vs $10 on my Hop card. The 140km range I get is not a problem for 90% of our driving. The new EVs coming out this year and next will have >300km range. At that point the only time range anxiety is an issue is when travelling out of town, at which point a 30min stop at a Cafe after 3.5hrs driving isn’t a big deal. Degradation will be less of an issue too because each cycle is shallower, and the lifespan of batteries improves exponentially with shallower cycles.

        1. 2.5c/ km isn’t a true reflection of the cost though – that’s just the electricity. In the next few years, EVs will need to contribute to the cost of maintaining roads as well, through Road User Charges or similar. That would add another 6 cents or more.

          Still a lot cheaper than petrol cars which are around 20 c/km, but not as cheap as they currently look.

          1. Completely agree, we need RUC to properly compare cost, it will move to ~8.5c/km like you say, but in terms of the PT vs driving decision I make now the lack of RUC causes quite a distortion. I think that we will have to move to all vehicles paying some form of RUC, and remove the charge from petrol, so that PHEVs can be fairly charged.

          2. Different costs to society though? Road pricing or RUC can capture the costs of land, road building, social disconnection from severance by roads, etc. Petrol charges can capture the costs of carbon emissions, air and water pollution, removal of options for future generations. I think we need both. Agree that currently the distortions are large.

          3. Elliott: yes, I think the MoT has at one point or another acknowledged that eventually all vehicles will need to be on an RUC-type system, otherwise there’s distortions between petrol/ plug in hybrid/ full electric. But any change is probably a few years away at least (a good time to do it would be when the current RUC exemption finishes in around 2020).

            Heidi: yes, separate ways of charging for road upkeep vs emissions etc. That’s already in place, so the prices of both petrol and diesel include a small charge under the Emissions Trading Scheme. Should be much higher, but it’s a start. Likewise, electricity prices include a charge for that too. So all the energy types do pay proportionately to their emissions, it’s just the emissions prices are too low to make much difference. Whether we stay on the ETS or switch to a carbon tax, there is a cost tagged to the emissions.

      2. The only reason I mentioned this was I looked closely at buying one but the more I read and spoke to owners of them the more I concluded the 2010 – very early 2013 series were a rather flawed vehicle.

        And given the need for economy, reliability and budget, a Honda Fit or similar is less than half price of a Nissan Leaf, series 2, a much better version of the original, and to recoup the running cost savings vs the purchase price made an EV uneconomical.

        That and the range and refueling time issues.

        I need to resell my cars to buy the next and in 2 years time for example, with a degraded battery, can I sell it in all conscience? Not really! But if the Honda is looked after, its got heaps life left in it.

        Apparently the new 30kw/hr Leafs with improvements of technology throughout the car are a great step forward but obviously they are bloody expensive.

        1. We’ve come along way from the 2010 models, and now that all the major players have entered the electric vehicle race, price will start dropping. However it not only the cost of production that are keeping prices high at the moment. Also the demand.

  8. I’d love Chevy to make a RHD of the Bolt. I’d also love to see electricity retailers import and sell EVs at 0% margin with locked-in power contracts to make their money.

  9. Another thing worth considering about EVs is the difference in the fuel budgeting. With a petrol powered vehicle the fuel purchase is a conscious purchase from a separate account. With an EV the fuel is lumped into the electricity bill, just like a heat pump in the winter, and comes from the general household budget. Running an EV could simply mean spending less on ice cream and other non essentials at the supermarket .

    1. Totally agree. A lot of people won’t really notice $50 a month on the power bill vs $75 a week on fuel. The best part is no trips to the petrol station, six seconds at each end of my day to plug and unplug rather than a 10min detour to the petrol station. Bliss.

          1. The ground normally gets redeveloped, and as a result remediated. Obviously there will be a landfill in Hamilton, or North Auckland that will receive more contaminated material that needs to be buried and controlled with discharges treated at the waste management facilities.

            However the land the actual gas station was on will be returned to better condition than it was before the gas station was built on the site.

          2. The plume of pollution goes well beyond the site, Josh, 100’s of metres of more depending on the age of the service station, the condition of the underground tanks, the number of spill incidents and what the response was. Most service stations haven’t been built on contaminated brownfields sites but on greenfields or on unpolluted urban sites. Unless things have changed remarkably since I was working in the area, the level of remediation required isn’t high – just enough to enable re-use of the site for buildings, not to the standard that allowed horticulture as it probably was prior to use.

            It’s not just in gas stations that we have these problems, of course. The line source of pollution along railway tracks from the weed spraying is considerable, and where I was involved in the area, it was a big issue for aquifer health depending on the soil type. Probably a big issue in nz in karstic limestone country.

          3. Heidi, that’s some interesting points. How much of a direct health riak do you think there is from former fuel station sites? E.g. a fast food place has just opened in Penrose on an old service station site… it should be OK, right?

          4. I wouldn’t be concerned about a fast food place. It’s our soils and waterways that are affected. I wouldn’t even be that concerned about a small garden that someone might establish with a few salad vegetables and herbal tea plants for the workers… if the plants actually grow there’s probably less danger than on a typical suburban section put on a market garden of a certain age. But the amount of downstream pollution from these sites is a worry.

          5. Thanks Heidi! You’re right, downstream pollution is such a problem… at least awareness of water runoff problems is growing, with luck over time we can build awareness of chemical pollution as well. Little by little…

          6. Disagree Hedi, the controls on Gas station sites are very intensive. Maybe 100years ago you would have been correct, but now days to even get a consent you have to have very strict controls.

            I’ve tested multipal construction sites around Auckland and can assure you there is more contamination in the soil on farm land from petroleum storage than there is on these sites due to these controls.

            A good example is that the soil of a ex gas site I recently accessed that was being developed the soil from the site was considered clean fill as contamination results was well below the natural soil content. The biggest health risk, that is only a health risk in soil if its disturbed, at the moment is asbestos. However this is easy to control, just very expensive to dispose of thanks to Auckland Councils rediculous stance, even if it’s below national health standards it must be disposed of at a landfill, potentially adding millions of dollars to construction projects. Yet across the boarder in Hamilton you can dispose of as managed fill if the content is below the health standards of 0.001.

      1. Yes I can see that. Would people have been as willing to pay for all the communications they now have if they’d had to take their computers and phones to have the “goods” inserted once a week? Possibly, but the far higher bills people pay today (for much better services) may have also crept in under the radar because they’re paid by direct dedit.

  10. And for the nation; home grown electrons v imported liquid fuels is a huge bonanza. Import substitution at it’s best. Check out the rough equivalence between the flesh colour bar on the left, Imported Crude, and the red one on the right; Domestic Transport:

    1. Yup, and oil is one of our biggest imports (depending on how you slice the categories). Good for the ol’ offshore debt balance.

  11. Patrick highlights the most glaring advantage, keep NZ money in NZ in circulation. This is huge for the economy.

    EV’s arent perfect, but for most the population, they are now at a point where they make plenty of sense. Battery breakthroughs will continue to improve the life and economics of batteries.

  12. Was useful to read, tnx. Currently our company works on improving the quality of electric-vehicle-batteries. We cooperate with Beta Solutions in Auckland. It’s our electronic projects partner that provides a range of mechanical services. They also offer full-service electronic engineering consultancy.

    1. Hi Alan,

      Could you tell me a bit more about what your company does? It’s neat to think this stuff is happening in Auckland. I was a bit dismissive of electric cars as a viable prospect until I bought a wireless fast charger for my Samsung phone and had a bit of a Eureka moment. I know Auckland University recently spun-off a wireless vehicle charging tech so it seems like a bit is going in locally, it’s just not something that you hear too much about.

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