Green is a go

Government is doing the right thing by buying up more EVs, a lobby group says.

Mark Gilbert with BMW i3.jpeg

DETERMINATION by New Zealand Transport Agency to look at boosting its electric vehicle fleet and invest in charging infrastructure has been welcomed by the country’s leading proponent of this technology.

Drive Electric is a not-for-profit group that includes many electricity, financial services, car leasing and transport industry leaders on its board.

It has several functions, including undertaking research about issues affecting electric vehicles, lobbying the government to continue setting ambitious targets for electric vehicle uptake and helping educate the public and corporate sector about the benefits of EVs. Its goal is to mainstream EVs and achieve more energy independence over time.

“NZTA’s proposal to add 41 EVs to its fleet in 2018 shows it is leading from the front in adopting technology that will eventually dominate the automotive sector in just a few years,” says chairman Mark Gilbert, who prior to taking on his current role led BMW New Zealand – the first premium brand to deliver EVs here.

“With the Labour-New Zealand First government looking to the public sector to adopt EV technology as part of its coalition agreement, NZTA is getting on the wave early.”

Having the agency which is responsible for maintenance of New Zealand’s highways support EVs in this manner has the potential to drive up public interest, Gilbert says.

NZTA’s intention to invest in its own charging infrastructure to support the EV fleet is also a positive sign, he adds.

“Looking into this type of investment shows the organisation is serious about using EVs in the long-term and wants to make it easy for staff to drive the vehicles. It is a signal we hope other government agencies will pick up on.”

Last month the Transport Ministry announced that the count of EVs operating here stands at 6162 vehicles. The data shows that pre-owned imported used cars, rather than NZ-new product, account for the bulk of registrations. These mainly come from Japan, though the United Kingdom is a strengthening source.

The new vehicle industry has provided 1265 light pure electric and 1197 light plug-in hybrid cars.

The latest count suggests a significant surge in EV interest last year; by comparison, 2547 EVs were registered at December 2016.

Auckland dominates the EV share with 3026 vehicles, whereas Wellington’s population runs to 789 units. There are 753 in Canterbury.

Individuals still own more light EVs (new and used combined) than companies.

The Government aims to have 64,000 EVs on our roads by the end of 2021, with each year bringing a higher anticipated count than the last. The target for 2018 is set at 8000 vehicles.