Note: Powershop is not an electric vehicle manufacturer. We suggest consulting vehicle manufacturers directly for product-specific information.
Perhaps the biggest adjustment to make moving from a regular car to one that runs on electricity is how you keep it running. Rather than filling up with fuel, you’ll be charging your car – either at a public charging station or through your own home’s mains electricity.
On this page, you'll learn things like:
- Typical costs associated with charging an EV
- Charging station infrastructure in New Zealand
- Different options for charging
Got an electric vehicle or about to buy one? Ask us about our EV charging rates.
We’re so used to visiting petrol stations in New Zealand that moving to an EV vehicle can be quite strange. Powering up an electric car is closer to charging a mobile phone than filling up a regular car with fuel.
With a traditional car, we’re usually keeping an eye on the gauge to make sure we’re never running too low – or too far from a petrol station. An EV owner might only need to consider this with long road trips, because charging at home is a super cost-effective way of running your EV.
As you approach the petrol station, seeing that price per litre can be a bit painful. We’re paying some of the highest amounts for gas in our history right now. The price fluctuates but rarely gets under $2 per litre for petrol. EV charging is close to $0.30 per equivalent litre assuming an off-peak kilowatt hour of $0.15 (better reflected as range). Any fluctuations will be dictated by what sort of plan you’re on with your power company.
Charging your EV overnight while everyone’s asleep and power can be cheaper makes running costs much lower than standard vehicles.
Public charging stations in New Zealand
To handle the growing number of electric and hybrid vehicles on NZ roads, charging stations are being installed across the country. Most major petrol companies have installed EV chargers and dedicated space for owners to top up. But you’ll also find EV charging stations in places like campgrounds, tourist spots, beaches, shopping malls and supermarkets.
While we now have chargers scattered throughout the country, these are still not as frequent as petrol stations. We’d suggest researching where these charging points are before you take a long trip. Websites like PlugShare (who also have an app) and Drive Electric have an interactive map so you can see where known EV chargers are situated.
Using a public EV charger
If you’re using a paid charging station, the process is usually pretty fast compared with doing it at home. You can expect about 100km of driving range with just 20-30 minutes of charging. This is, of course, much longer than filling up with petrol, so it’s worth considering this if you’re weighing up the pros and cons of an EV. Getting this 100km on fast charge might cost around $10, but this depends on the charging station and your EV.
So how do you use the charger? Most fast charging stations will have the standard charging cable and plugs already for EV owners to use. You just attach the cable to your charging port, enter payment to the station and you’re good to go. Some of these stations have apps and other features to allow ease of payment with a registered account. Just do your homework first. You don’t need to create an account to use these chargers and can pay as you go. 20-30 minutes later on a public fast charge and you’ve got another 100km of range.
Quick Tip: Don’t use public fast chargers constantly – fast charge too frequently and you’ll start wearing the battery down.
Along with these fast paid chargers across NZ are free-to-use ones. These may be slower and in tourist spots could be busy with others charging before you. Yes, the infrastructure is expanding, but EV top ups are still a long way off petrol or diesel from a convenience and speed perspective.
The free stations may not have cables included so you should bring the ones supplied with your EV. Expect a few hours of charge time. This is usually not an issue if you charge while doing shopping or doing a family activity.
Quick Tip: Use a free charger at the same time as planning something to do for a few hours like visiting a shopping mall.
Charging at home
At home is where most EV owners do the majority of their charging. This can be done inside your garage or outside with appropriate safety precautions. When you purchase an EV, it’ll come with a charging cable that can be plugged into the standard 3-pin NZ power outlet. This is okay for overnight, standard charging. When you wake up you’ll have a fully charged vehicle ready for the day.
This portable cable should be taken with you in the EV when driving around, should you need to charge somewhere else like work, another home or at a free charging port with no cables. You may even consider buying a spare to carry in the boot and leave the other at home.
Before even purchasing an EV, we’d suggest getting a qualified electrician around to do a check of the wiring and plugs. These should all be in 100% safe working order beforehand. An EV is a very large battery that will be taking power from the mains, possibly every day – make sure your home is ready to handle the load.
You should also make sure whatever portable charging cable you use is either the standard manufacturer model or clearly approved for use with your vehicle. Never use a non-NZ plug, even an international cable converted to NZ plug. Remember we run on 230V and any charger that doesn’t cover this in its range could lead to safety issues.
A wall unit for home is often opted for as the standard charging method due to some key advantages over 3-pin plug. Let’s explore some of these below.
Fast(er), safer charge at home
If you want a safer, smarter and quicker option – wall-mounted units are worth a look. Get these installed by a qualified electrician into your home (typically inside a garage). They are still powering your charge from AC, so it’s not as battery-wearing as the public fast chargers, but these units can be quicker than the standard portable plug.
Another reason EV owners opt for these wall-mounted chargers is the control over when the car charges. Most will include a timer that can be set to ensure you’re not needlessly charging a full battery. Some of these wall stations even offer an accompanying app to monitor charge status and other information.
Wall units are sturdier and safer than just plugging into the 3-pin connector. The connection is protected by a cover – especially important if your car lives in a car port where weather and temperature is a factor. Often these units will have safety features like surge protection and auto shut off.
The electrician who installs this wall unit should make sure the wiring in your home is sufficient to power the device.
Fast(est) charge – possibly right for your business
For some power users who want to charge as fast as the public charge stations at home or at work, a DC charging solution may be installed. This requires serious electrical work to connect this charger type directly into the power mains. Make sure your EV supports DC charging, and consider whether the cost is worth it. For businesses with fleets of EVs, a DC unit can often make sense.
Tips when charging an EV
Here are some handy hints when charging your electric vehicle:
- Try to only use fast charge every so often. Too much fast charge could wear the battery.
- Charge on off-peak times at home – overnight usually makes sense.
- Try to keep your car in as mild and dry a climate as possible. Extreme hot and cold temperatures can impact the battery health over time.
- Make sure your EV, wall unit or both have timer set to stop charging once at full capacity. Leaving your battery on charge for much longer periods isn’t great for battery life.
- Do not leave your EV with a low or empty battery for a long period of time, as this can harm the longevity of the battery or even render it useless.
- Take the time to learn about your vehicle and the manufacturer’s charging recommendations. Each EV is different and you want to make sure you extend its life for as long as possible.
When you’re dealing with anything electrical, safety is important. Below are just some precautions you can take, but always consult your vehicle manual and manufacturer for safety advice relevant to your particular model.
- Don’t leave cables charging outside where they could be damaged by cars, people or the weather.
- Never put the EV charging cable through a multi box. Connect directly into a wall unit, charging station or 3-pin wall plug.
- Use the proper cable for your vehicle and NZ voltage.
- Keep your EV maintained and ensure it’s charging the way it's supposed to.
- If any of your equipment is broken, don’t charge – get it seen to straight away by a registered EV maintenance professional.
- Don’t charge your vehicle if it’s been in a crash – even if the damage appears to be superficial – get it fixed and road-ready before plugging it back in.
- Involve a good electrician in your move to EV – they’ll get your house’s wiring and plugs up to standard.
Common terms you may hear
CHAdeMO – A popular EV fast charging (DC) standard for charging stations, compatible with many of the main manufacturers including Tesla, Nissan, BMW and Hyundai. Read more about this charging here.
CCS (Combined Charging System) – Another DC charging standard found in fast charging stations. Developed and used by many European EVs.
Wall box or wall charger – a unit installed in the garage, carport or parking area of an EV that charges the EV safely from AC.
Type 1 plug – An EV plug standard developed in North America. Read more about this here
Type 2 plug – A European EV plug standard that’s adopted by New Zealand as recommended. More information can be found here.