Electric cars touring the country

19 April 2016

An annual national road trip for electric vehicles is just drawing to a close, with more impressive cars on display than ever before.

The #LeadingTheCharge rally is now in its second year. It is organised by the Better NZ Trust. The trust was set up to promote the adoption of zero carbon renewable energy technology. One of the organisers is Carl Barlev, managing director of Blue Cars. The tour takes a convoy of all-electric and hybrid vehicles on a road trip through New Zealand from Cape Reinga to Bluff. The group has stopped at nearly every major town and city on the way. At each stop the team gives talks and demonstration rides to the public.

This year the group includes three high performance Tesla S vehicles. They have been joined by two plug-in hybrids, a Mitsubishi Outlander and a BMW i3. A Holden Volt and Nissan Leaf also put in an appearance along the way. It’s sponsored by Charge Amps AB (Sweden), Amp Fibian (Australia), Volt Vehicles and Blue Cars.

Carl says: “The thing with these cars is you can read about them, but you don’t really get it until you take a test drive. The challenge is that people are still about five years behind in their thinking on this, and things have changed so fast.”

Powering the cars throughout the country was effortless, using overnight stops and the network of 24 fast chargers around the country. With up to 60 fast chargers set to be online nationwide by the end of the year, this is only going to get easier.

“Overall I spend less time ‘filling up’ my car than a petrol one. Most of the time it’s done overnight and if not I can fast charge in the time it takes me to have some lunch or a coffee.”

With the cars winning the appreciation of all who ride in them, and technological advancements continuing, Carl foresees exponential growth in this market in the next few years.

“The Ministry of Transport is talking in terms of something like 35 per cent EVs by 2040, but fuel injection took just 12 years to get to 100 per cent adoption. This is simply better technology, and we are only in year two.”

Blue Cars offers a broker service to assist people to make the right choice for them in new and used electric vehicles (EVs). Carl recommends that at the very least families with more than two cars should be looking at an all-electric runabout.

“You are going to save money and have a very fun car to drive,” he says.

The Sustainable Business Network is promoting electric vehicles as part of a shift to a smart, low carbon, transport network. In response to the level of interest throughout the Network SBN is establishing an EV taskforce of active members.  Its purpose is to accelerate electric vehicle infrastructure and adoption in New Zealand.

Many SBN members are playing crucial roles in the roll out of EVs here in New Zealand. They will be coming together on 10th of May to create a new NZ Roadmap for Electric Vehicles. This will help guide and co-ordinate these efforts with key partners, including the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, Drive Electric and Auckland Transport.

SBN CEO Rachel Brown says: “Electric cars are not the future. They are happening right now. Nissan Leafs are being bought off TradeMe for under $20,000. Tesla is taking orders from New Zealand for the Tesla 3. As an active business network, SBN is taking a lead on this to help make New Zealand’s transport infrastructure smart and climate friendly.”

If you’d like to get involved, contact Phil Jones.