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Making it happen: electric cars and a network of fast charging stations

by Sue Kedgley
I’m pleased that Wellington regional councillors have voted to support my motion to require the Regional Council to replace its vehicle fleet with electric vehicles, and to help establish a network of fast recharging stations for electric cars across the region.

At the moment there is only one publicly accessible charging station for electric cars at Z Energy near the railway station, and three more charging stations planned for central Wellington.

But there are no publicly available charging stations elsewhere in the Wellington region, so electric car owners can’t drive to the Wairarapa or Kapiti coast, for fear of running out of electricity.

That has to change, so that Wellingtonians can take part in the boom in electric cars that is taking place around the world, as car manufacturers produce more affordable electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, and as the time it takes to recharge a car reduces dramatically.

Over the past year the time it takes to charge an electric car has gone down from 8 hours to 20 minutes, and speedy charging is driving a global surge in electric cars.

China has experienced growth in electric cars of 120% in the past year and the USA has witnessed growth of 69%. Electric cars are now common in Europe and many European countries have an extensive national network of charging stations. There are 860 electric cars in New Zealand, 50 new ones are being registered each month, and this is expected to accelerate. The Canterbury University Centre for Advanced Engineering estimates that up to 40% of new vehicle sales could be electric cars by 2030, rising to 80% by 2040.

But to get a good uptake of electric vehicles, you need a network of well-located, publicly available charging stations around the region to overcome what is known as ‘range anxiety’ — the concern that you will run out of electricity.

Auckland Council has partnered with Vector to roll out a network of 35 rapid charging stations across the Auckland region, and it’s time Wellington did the same, so that Wellingtonians can travel freely around our region in electric cars.

Transport emissions are the biggest contributor to carbon emissions in the Wellington region, with petrol and diesel from vehicles contributing 29% of our emissions. So encouraging the uptake of electric vehicles is one way we can help to bring down emissions in our region.

Globally a new report suggests that global emissions could be slashed by 23% by 2050 if there was widespread conversion to electric cars.

So I am delighted that the Regional Council has agreed to take a leadership role in setting up a network of fast charging stations around the region, and will convene a working group early next year to help make this happen. It has also committed to showing leadership on the issue by converting our vehicle fleet to electric powered ones, once enough charging stations are in place and suitable vehicles are available.

As the thousands of leaders gather in Paris to debate what we can do to reduce climate change, it’s great that we can do our bit in Wellington to reduce emissions here.

Sue Kedgley is a Wellington regional councillor.

4 comments:

  1. Victor Davie, 3. December 2015, 7:43

    The 2006 documentary film “Who killed the electric car” is a fascinating insight into General Motors EV1 electric car of the 1990’s. Some 650 were manufactured but could only be leased. GM took them all back and destroyed them despite considerable outrage from the people who had leased them. Only one car survived by permission of GM and this remains in a museum. GM removed and destroyed it’s electric motor.

    The wheel has now most certainly turned with virtually all car manufacturers scrambling to develop electric vehicles. Battery technology development means some can travel hundreds of kilometres on a single charge. It’s very important for charging facilities to be the quickest and best available.

    Full marks to Councillor Kedgley and the Regional Council.

     
  2. splanned, 3. December 2015, 7:59

    Is the regional council the right people to do this? Their transport role is pretty much contracting public transport providers (perhaps looking at how they can make real time information work and the logic behind making the bus system electric by getting out of trolleys could be something to go on with). Personally I would get the city councils to do this – they control the road space, parking bylaws, etc need to make it work. What would the regional council bring (co-ordination? – read bureaucracy)

     
  3. Sue Kedgley, 3. December 2015, 15:11

    I should have clarified in my article that the Regional Council’s role would be confined to coordinating and promoting electric charging stations, not actually installing them. I would hope that electricity companies and others with an interest in electric cars would install them, as they have done in Auckland, where Vector is rolling out a network of 25 rapid charging stations. but there needs to be coordination around the region as to where they are located, to avoid duplication and ensure that there are sufficient around the region to enable people to drive around it with ease.

     
  4. Keogh, 6. December 2015, 22:42

    While I agree that fast charge stations are an important factor in consumer uptake surely a far greater factor is making sure EV cars are actually on sale in New Zealand! Inspired by all the recent EV articles on Auckland council and Vector, I went into the Nissan dealership in Auckland two months ago to arrange a test drive in a Nissan Leaf with the aim of buying a new car and was told that they didn’t even expect to have a Leaf I could test drive until about March 2016. Even then they had no idea when they would be getting any more in stock. According to the salesman the only Leafs they have previously had in NZ were all old (2011) surplus stock that they couldn’t shift in Australia. All very disappointing considering NZ’s clean green, early tech adopting image.