Note: Powershop is not an electric vehicle manufacturer. We suggest consulting vehicle manufacturers directly for product-specific information.
Electric cars are showing up all over New Zealand. The revolution is underway and owning an electric powered car is more within reach than ever before. But what’s it like to own this type of vehicle?
On this page, you'll learn things like:
- The benefits and drawbacks of electric car ownership.
- The costs of purchasing and running an electric car
- Types and brands of electric cars available in New Zealand that you may consider.
Got an electric vehicle or about to buy one? Ask us about our EV charging rates.
Why are Kiwis moving to electric cars?
Don’t get us wrong – New Zealand’s still at the foot of the mountain when it comes to transitioning away from petrol and diesel cars to fully-electric. But the signs are right – ever-expanding charge points, more manufacturers entering the game, and even the New Zealand Government finding ways to incentivise importing of electric cars.
For many Kiwis, our clean, green way of life is part of the national identity. Our rejection of power sources like nuclear along with the fact the majority of our power is from renewable energy sources shows how important the environment is to us. Electric cars offer a much cleaner alternative to traditional vehicles.
But it’s not just the environmentally-conscious who are opting for an electric car. Petrol prices in New Zealand have been climbing over the past few decades and we're paying much more for petrol than many countries. Electric cars are becoming appealing for the price-driven consumer, increasingly so as the purchase price comes down.
And then there’s the gadget factor. Electric cars have technology onboard that makes many petrol cars look positively ancient. Calculation of range, downloading car data into an app and assisted driving are just some of the killer features in some electric cars.
Let’s explore the benefits of owning an electric car in more detail.
Benefits of owning an electric car
Wondering if an electric car is your next vehicle purchase? There are some good reasons to look into it.
Once you’ve purchased an electric car, the running costs are often much lower than petrol vehicles. As we’ve mentioned in the Electric Vehicles main page, it can be as cheap as the equivalent of $0.30 a litre to run your car (source: energywise.govt.nz). Read more about costs in our section below.
You’ll enjoy much better torque than a standard petrol car. Put your foot down and go. It’s quite a different feeling but the driving experience is pretty fun! This can be useful when needing to pass someone safely and swiftly (within the NZ road rules of course!).
Your electric car works on the concept of ‘range’ – how far you can travel based on the current battery capacity. Many electric cars like the Nissan Leaf or Tesla models have dedicated mobile apps for your phone. Here you can see data on your travel, usage, battery health and other important information to help you understand your vehicle.
No dirty exhaust!
Electric cars remove the majority of pollution that petrol and diesel cars emit, even when you take into account the manufacture of the car and its battery (as well as disposal). If we want to keep New Zealand healthy and clean, a move to electric cars may well be one of the best ways to do it.
Less parts, less fuss
An electric car, while boasting advanced technology, actually contains far less mechanical parts than a regular car. Maintenance can be more straightforward – this entirely depends on what’s wrong though.
Drawbacks of electric car ownership
It’s not all plain sailing when it comes to owning an electric car, however. Here are some things you should know.
Purchase price can be high
The technology’s still pretty new. Manufacturing these cars doesn’t enjoy the massive scale or competition that petrol/diesel cars do. Therefore you can expect to pay a bit more for a similar size and purpose vehicle. But, we don’t expect this to be the case in the future. The majority of car manufacturers have signalled intentions to introduce electric cars to their line, if not transition entirely away from fossil fuels. As Japanese car makers bring models into the New Zealand market, we’d expect the cost to end up in line with what you’re paying for regular cars now.
Quiet, yes – but that’s not always a good thing.
Electric cars don’t make a lot of noise, especially at lower speeds. While that’s good for avoiding noisy roads, it can actually present a safety issue. Think of school zones with speed limits of 20 km/hr, or reversing out of shopping centre car parks. There are low speed areas with many pedestrians presenting hazards in the case of electric cars. Many manufacturers are tackling this with features like pretend engine noise and reversing warning beeps.
The car battery won’t last forever
And its maximum capacity, like all rechargeable batteries, will decrease over the lifetime. What does this mean? Expect to buy a new battery at least once if you plan on owning the electric car for 5+ years. Remember, this class of vehicle is still pretty new; battery technology should improve with more research and demand.
There are more petrol stations than charging stations
The road trip is a Kiwi pastime. Yes electric cars can handle long distances, but you’re going to need to figure out your stops in advance – not all small towns have EV chargers. The infrastructure for electric cars has just not caught up yet.
What are the costs involved?
Electric cars have costs associated with purchasing, maintaining and charging.
Purchasing an electric car
An electric car might seem out of reach, but actually there’s a growing used market for EVs on places like Trade Me. Depending on the year, make and battery use, you can pick up an electric car for under $20,000.
But what about buying new? Well this varies greatly. Here are some popular electric cars available in New Zealand to purchase brand new:
*Subject to change, may be additional on road costs. Consult the car manufacturer directly.
As you can see, the cost to entry if you’re buying new is considerable. We expect this to come down as more models enter the market to drive competition.
Maintaining an electric car
Maintenance cost, as with any cars, will vary depending on the model you drive. Different types of cars have different features. And while there are less parts to fail on an electric car, it’s a myth that EVs require little to no maintenance. It’s still a good idea to get your electric car serviced once a year or every 10,000km (whichever comes first). Have a chat with your preferred mechanic or car dealer to find out what they charge for EV maintenance.
Cost of charging an electric car
The cost is much cheaper than petrol, but by how much is based on a few things:
- Where you charge (home, work, charging station)
- If at home, when you charge (on peak or off-peak times)
- The size/type of electric car you have.
Energywise estimate that running an electric vehicle is equivalent to paying around $0.30 a litre.
Read more about Charging Electric Vehicles in our dedicated guide or ask us about our EV charging rates.
Common styles of electric car
Electric cars are being produced for all sizes and needs – but they’re still a relatively expensive entry point vs. regular cars. You may see an abundance of hatchbacks and sedans such as the Nissan Leaf and the Hyundai Ioniq, but there’s a growing supply of new people movers, vans and SUVs appearing on the market (new).
LDV’s large van, the ev80, will no doubt be a popular choice for enviro-friendly service vehicles. If you need a utility vehicle then these are on their way to NZ, too. If you’re after something sporty, Tesla’s Model S has set the standard.
We’ll be clear; the options for electric cars in 2019 is nowhere near that of petrol vehicles. You’ll still be able to find more choices across different body types, cheaper by shopping petrol or diesel. The second-hand EV market just doesn’t enjoy the volume of older cars that allow Kiwis to purchase for as low as $1-2,000.
So what are the options you might be choosing from when you buy an electric car?
- Range – models with larger, better batteries allowing for more distance before charging.
- Performance – acceleration and speed improvements, such as Tesla’s ‘Ludicrous mode’.
- Software – features like GPS, Audio, Modes and Apps will likely be part of your decision making.
- Interior and exterior appearance options – seats, colour, materials used.
Electric car manufacturers selling into New Zealand
Below are a list of fully-electric car manufacturers with models in market as at 2019:
Note many other manufacturers have announced models entering the market in 2020.
Buying tips – electric cars
There’s a lot involved with buying any car – used or new, electric or petrol. When searching for an electric car here are some questions you should get answered:
- Check the range compared to your daily driving needs – will this get you to and from where you need to go on a single charge?
- Is your price range realistic? Sometimes going for the cheapest option isn’t cheaper long term.
- Does the quoted range take into account things like extra weight you carry in your car, or steep hills that you drive on?
- Ask what features come as standard and what extra costs there might be. Sometimes it’s not immediately obvious.
- What sort of warranty is there on the car and its battery?
- What will the battery cost when it needs replacing?
- How much do charging kits cost?
- If used, how much health does the existing battery have left?
- What is the safety rating of the car?
- Buying used? Has the car been in an accident at all? There may be unseen damage to the electric motor or battery.