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Running on water…Whangarei touted New Zealand’s EV capital

Northpower Limited Media Statement
8 May, 2014

Running on water…Whangarei touted New Zealand’s EV capital

New Zealand’s first fast-charge station for electric vehicles is open in Whangarei and with no fuelling costs in sight.

The station is being officially opened by Minister for the Environment Amy Adams today.

For the foreseeable future the charger will be free to use, with the fast charger capable of providing 80% charge capacity within 30 minutes. The standard charger takes closer to eight hours for a full charge.

And the Northpower EV charge station is even powered by Northland water, courtesy of Northpower’s Wairua Hydro Power Station at Titoki – with the Chademo standard-based fast charger using local power generation to charge EV batteries.

Two other SAE J1772 standard chargers are available and three more will be added later if required. Northpower also has three standard EV chargers at its head office, just five minutes away from its Whangarei CBD fast-charge station.

And the locally-owned electricity lines company, which only hours earlier announced Whangarei as New Zealand’s first government-backed ultra-fast broadband fibre city, plans to make the town New Zealand’s EV capital.

With daily running costs 75% cheaper than petrol and diesel vehicles, the move to EV’s could prove an economic boost to Whangarei and surrounding townships, while also benefitting the environment.

And as with ultra-fast broadband networks, Northpower CEO Mark Gatland has a wider vision for EVs.

He says at around $2 a day for 50-100km of mileage, the running costs on EVs are considerably cheaper than $8 a day for traditional motoring with diesel and petrol vehicles.

“Apart from changing tyres every 40-odd thousand kilometres, there are very minimal servicing costs. People can simply drive them to work, head home and re-charge overnight on a standard three-point plug,” says Mr Gatland.

Northpower has completed a study which proved its electricity network can comfortably handle tens of thousands of EV’s charging overnight. In fact, it makes the network more efficient which should reduce network charges over time.

Similarly, an Auckland University has revealed that the national grid has ample capacity for charging EVs.

“What makes EV’s so logical for New Zealand is that the majority of power generation is renewable … we are very similar to Norway in that respect. Electric vehicles are a far better investment than solar photo-voltaics.”

Northpower Network General Manager Graham Dawson says the excess availability of electricity for re-charging EVs should be taken advantage of.

“Historically, the cost of electric vehicles has prevented widespread adoption, but the importation of low cost, low mileage, used Electric Vehicles from Japan have drastically changed the situation and has given Northpower the confidence to launch this initiative,” says Mr Dawson.

“Recent cost reduction in the pricing of NZ New Electric Vehicles and realistic pricing of the new Plug-in Hybrid SUV has added to this.

“I’ve no doubt that New Zealanders in close proximity to cities like Whangarei will benefit immensely from adopting electric vehicle technology. Being able to do 100km round trips before the need to re-charge means people can charge-up overnight at home. It’s the way of the future.”

Northpower is a Northland owned electricity distribution company with over 55,000 consumers connected to its network over an area of 5,700 square kilometres across the Whangarei and Kaipara Districts in Northland. Northpower owns more than 3700km of high voltage electricity lines (237km underground) and almost 2100km of low voltage lines (643km underground) in Kaipara and Whangarei Districts, along with the 50kV transmission lines between Dargaville and Maungatapere. It is also one of New Zealand’s leading fibre network companies having completed the Whangarei ultra-fast broadband Network in May of 2014.


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