Not that long ago there was a conspiracy theory that the big oil companies had deliberately tried to slow and disrupt the evolution of the electric car.
True or not, the result is more and more electric powered cars coming on the market with most manufacturers signalling a gradual shift to hybrid or full electric powered vehicles over the next few years. Petrol and diesel will hang on in there for years to come but I suspect will eventually become something of a collector's item.
With electric cars you’ll need to charge them, you’ll need a charging station. The charging station is in the car, but let’s not confuse matters. For those with the luxury of off road parking, this should be straightforward. If you live in an apartment block, you’d better start thinking now about how and when parking bays will be equipped with chargers. And if you must park on the street, you could very well be stuffed.
Then there is the nagging question of universal charging stations. It’s a similar scenario to the phone and phone charger issue of the past few years. Lots of phones, lots of chargers, none of them seem to be the one you need for your particular phone. Thankfully there are almost universal chargers for sale covering several brands and models. When it comes to charging though I’m guessing Tesla might end up being the Apple of charger options. At the local mall, we have currently have some parks for some cars and another bank of parks for Tesla. Not ideal. Then for some car owners, you’ll probably have to carry round an adaptor. You’ll need to get up to speed with a whole new set of acronyms and understand which apply to you, EG CHAdeMO DCFC, CCS DCFC.
The number of charging stations is improving quickly. However, currently, you may want to give the East Coast of the North Island and the West Coast of the South a wide berth. A quick search on Google will give you a number maps which one would hope are kept up to date regards location and if the charging stations are working or not. Charges for public stations are typically around 25c/kWh + 25c/minute. Some businesses are now installing chargers and offering free top ups, EG malls, and camping grounds.
And with any new technology there’s always a bit of a gamble as to when to buy. The range is improving quickly with new models promising 400km range, battery life is improving, currently approximately seven years, and charge time reducing, currently about 30 minutes to get to 80%.
Recent reports signal concern that New Zealand’s electricity network may struggle to keep up with the adoption of electric vehicles. And as batteries become bigger and the need for faster charging grows you can see where issues may arise. That coupled with the fact many vehicles will be charged during the evening just as households start to cook, turn on appliances and settle in for the evening could see bigger spikes in demand. Different pricing for late night charging seems the obvious solution.
If you’re looking to buy there’s lots of great local resources online. Current owners are sharing their experiences, good and bad, and what needs to improve.