An EV survey suggests Kiwis are starting to switch on – though it avoids asking the most relevant question: New or used?
MIGHT a just-announced result of an electric vehicle interest survey showing a strong consumer positive might create false hope about the potential of converts going to new product rather than used?
The poll was funded by MediaWorks, which has association with Hyundai NZ – which has announced the findings - and electricity company Meridian Energy through their commercial support of television’s AM Show, and delivers the responses of 2494 viewers.
Five questions relating to electric vehicles were presented to the viewership, these being: Do you see electric vehicles as being a key part of a sustainable future for NZ; do you associate any of the following companies with support for electric vehicles in New Zealand; what excites you about electric vehicles; what currently concerns you about electric vehicles; how much range on a single charge do you think would be ideal for an electric vehicle?
The outcome has given Hyundai hope that it is on the right track in being the pre-eminent brand in the new EV field, with two fully electric models – the medium Ioniq hatchback and Kona crossover – plus a plug-in hybrid edition of the Ioniq.
The brand has taken delight that the response suggests many Kiwis see electric vehicles as a key part of a sustainable future for NZ, with 24 percent stating “electric vehicles are the future” and 43 percent believing “it’s a good start”.
Hyundai also believes the survey result show that electric vehicles generate a sense of excitement amongst Kiwis, which goes beyond perceived environmental benefits.
It says that many participants were enthusiastic about the potential beneficial effect on living costs, significantly saving on fuel, fuel taxes, and road user taxes, along with the general perception of lower maintenance and running costs
It also noted that the three main factors that generated excitement were that EVs were better for the environment, that they gave motorists an out from having to pay for petrol and that they cost less to run than petrol cars.
However, while the survey discovered the main objection that New Zealanders needed to overcome was the perception that the cost of buying an electric vehicle may be prohibitive, it did not delve into how intending converts plan to address their transition.
The question of whether they prefer used import EVs over brand-new is of core relevance to the country’s electric driving appreciation.
Seeking an answer would seemingly be crucial to the dataset, given past preference has been for ex-Japan EVs, notably the Nissan Leaf, which in 2017 was the country’s best-selling electric.
Certainly, too, while NZ has just surpassed 10,000 units in the electric and plug-in electric sphere, the majority of those have been used cars from elsewhere, primarily Japan.
The attraction is purely financial, with the average price of these choices being about half that asked for comparable NZ-new products.
However, with the average age of imports being seven years, Kiwis who take that route are clearly trading away opportunity to keep in touch with latest tech
That is set to become a more pressing issue going forward, when newest technology advances are, in order to achieve the 400km-plus range expected by consumers, taking EVs toward more powerful batteries that demand a recharging infrastructure yet to develop here.
All the incoming European product, for instance, do best on 100-150kW recharging networks. The Kona EV, in fact, is also optimally suited to 100kW direct charge replenishment.
By comparison, most used import products are designed to replenish off more modest, mainly AC power, because they also provide much lower range. From 120-180km in the main. The Ioniq is slightly better, with a real-world 200km performance claimed, whereas Kona is expected to deliver more than 400kms’ on a charge, which puts it in the same sphere as Tesla cars and the incoming European product.
The challenge with going new is obvious: The latest tech comes at a much higher price. And, when these vehicles are not subject to any particular purchase incentive, such as tax cuts or rebates, that is considered prohibitive to many motorists.
Even though its own products place in the $60,000 to $80,000 zone, Hyundai contends that electric vehicles are now becoming mainstream and affordable. It also believes it is leading the charge.
“The price of electric vehicles is largely determined by the fact that battery technology is expensive,” Hyundai NZ general manager Andy Sinclair notes.
“It’s common for people to be put off by the fact that you pay more for an electric battery vehicle than a vehicle with an internal combustion engine, but it costs so little from a recharging perspective that the savings add up very quickly.
“That is currently an education issue for the industry, because the return on investment is very much there. Maintenance is a lot less combined with no fuel costs.”
Beyond the primary focus on the purchase price, the survey also cites that concerns about electric vehicles are that there are not enough charging stations, that recharging time is long and that EVs deliver limited range.
In response to the first Sinclair suggested: “New Zealand’s EV charging network continues to undergo rapid expansion. There is no doubt that the number of stations will grow as more and more New Zealand businesses and the public adopt EVs.”
Survey results show that almost a third of Kiwis believe that a 200-350km single-charge range would suffice.
Sinclair contends: “As battery technology develops we’ll start to see driving range rapidly increase.”
He adds: “Eventually the benefits will outweigh the barriers to entry, and Hyundai will continue to champion the EV industry and be at the forefront of innovation and change.”