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Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming commonplace across the globe, real quick. We suspect most cars will be electric in future, but is New Zealand prepped and willing to accept electric as the new normal?  

What electric vehicles are capable of – word on the street 

Our roads are used by a mix of smaller town vehicles, family SUVs, utility vehicles, vans and trucks – different needs for different folk. 

Heavy vehicle owners tend to need pulling power and large capacity load carrying. However, EV batteries drain faster when moving up steep hills and may consume a lot of power when transporting heavy loads. 

While an EV fleet is a great fit for corporate jobs, many Kiwis think that EVs are too light duty for any rigorous hands-on work. This makes sense when considering typical EVs – smaller hatchbacks. BUT this is changing. 

Electric utility vehicles and larger trucks are set to make it to New Zealand shores, and given our widespread love for utes, it’s only a matter of time before motorists have a broad range to choose from. 

As we see more options enter the market for the large vehicle sector, expect to have a larger number of EV options that can drive the same distances, carry the same tools and boast the same pulling power. 

 

Charging stations and range anxiety 

 Range anxiety, it’s a real thing. Range is shown in the dash display of many modern petrol or diesel vehicles, and it estimates the distance the remaining fuel can cover, so the driver knows when to refuel/charge.   

EV drivers need the peace of mind that they can recharge while out and about. In NZ it’s not too far between each town, so a typical EV on full charge should see you through to the next charging station. The goal now is to ensure that EV chargers are throughout our small towns. There’s an ongoing Government initiative through Waka Kotahi to ensure widespread national coverage of EV charging stations, with many already popping up in urban centres.   

While the availability of EV chargers is enough to cover a road trip, EV drivers still need to plan ahead. For example, charging can be done at home, but it takes longer than filling up at the station.  

As EVs grow in popularity, the number of charging stations will need to grow to meet those needs. 

Nitty grid-y national demand    

NZ’s national power grid needs to supply power for both residential and commercial users. Unsurprisingly, more EVs will lead to more demand on the grid, especially for overnight EV charging. This means the country’s generation capabilities will need to adapt over the long term.   

On the plus side, it’s unlikely that EV owners will charge their vehicles at the same time. Most EVs don’t need to be charged every night, thanks to the more EV chargers cropping up.  

New Zealand’s adoption of EVs, much like our adoption of anything new, will likely be gradual (phew). 

More EV choices? Yes please   

Kiwis love our cars, from the farm ute to the heavily modified Japanese sports model, to the humble hatchback with a pet name.  

We have thousands of options to choose from, whereas EVs options are limited, sporting modern, simple designs. To get more people on the EV wagon, we’ll probably need more choices – and luckily a bunch are already in development. 

Expect new EV models over the next five years and a growing second hand market online, helping to drive down the cost of used EVs. 

A new way of driving 

Along with a totally new method of powering a vehicle, electric vehicles come with some pretty smart tech – like GPS, self-driving functionality and live traffic updates.  

The driving experience in an EV is different from a regular car: 

  • immediate access to torque when touching the accelerator. 
  • incredibly zippy off the mark. 
  • different braking experience with the motor taking care of low-speed braking/ deceleration. 
  • some EVs allow one pedal driving with the car braking when taking your foot off the accelerator (though this feature can be turned off).   

While Kiwis will eventually adjust to the EV driving experience, we expect it will be a deterrent for many in the short-medium term, especially petrol heads that love the sound and feel of a gas-powered vehicle.  

Getting behind NZ’s environmental mission   

New Zealand’s commitment to the environment through initiatives like 100% renewable and single use plastics are supported by the Clean Car Discount, a programme designed to make EVs a more attractive option to Kiwi drivers. Many Kiwis are fully onboard the clean and green mission for Aotearoa, and EVs represent another important step in the right direction.  

Keen to learn more about EVs? 

Visit our comprehensive Electric Vehicle guide to learn how switching to an EV could change your future driving experience.