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Electric vehicle programme to kickstart opportunity for NZ

Electric vehicle programme to kickstart billion-dollar opportunity for NZ

A new initiative launched by the Association for the Promotion of Electric Vehicles (APEV) is aimed at stimulating innovation in the electric vehicle sector and its related ecosystem, providing a significant global growth opportunity for New Zealand.

The Orion EVolocity programme is comprised of a series of competitions and events designed to encourage grass roots learning and knowledge-sharing about the benefits of electric transport, and to nurture youth interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

APEV chief executive Rob McEwen says electric vehicles are “the way of the future”.

“The most cautious projections are for 80 million electric vehicles to be in use worldwide by 2040, up from 400,000 today. If New Zealand had a $1000 input in just five per cent of those vehicles, it would produce $4 billion in earnings – representing a significant opportunity in a global growth sector.

“As well as export opportunities, electric transport means reduced reliance on fossil fuel imports and better use of our existing clean energy infrastructure. We have one of the cleanest electricity grids in the world, capable of powering over 75 per cent of the light passenger vehicle fleet in 2040 – or 2.5 million, from a fleet of 3.2 million – with about eight per cent more generation than the no electric vehicle option.”

The Association for the Promotion of Electric Vehicles (APEV) is a non-profit society focused on promoting the environmental and economic advantages of electric transport in New Zealand. The organisation is a sister association of APEV Japan and APEV Germany.

The Orion EVolocity programme is comprised of a number of project-based competitions. The high school competition, in partnership with CPIT, Enviroschools and Electroflash, encourages project-based learning as a tool to encourage interest in science, technology and engineering – all areas currently experiencing acute skills shortages. Competition categories include motor controller, electric vehicle build, sound effects synthesiser, overall performance and design, video, and social marketing.

An inaugural boot camp for high schools was held on the campus of Christchurch Polytechnic on 13 April, with approximately 50 students from nine high schools in attendance. A second boot camp is scheduled for 21-22 June. Mr McEwen says it is likely that around 20 high school teams will participate in the Canterbury pilot programme in 2014, well above projections of ten to twelve teams. APEV has plans to expand the high school programme nationally over the coming years.

There are two categories in which tertiary institutes, businesses and innovators can compete: eBuild and Dragon’s Den. eBuild encourages entrants to build an electric vehicle, such as a go kart, motorbike or car. APEV has simplified the process by offering a standard kit for each section, with the challenge to manipulate the kits to extract the best performance and economy.

The Dragon’s Den is ideal for engineers, mechanics, university and polytechnic students, and even DIY innovators with “game-changing innovation”, says Mr McEwen. “This could be power electronics and componentry, revolutionary ICT, or niche vehicle prototypes. This is their chance to put their back-shed tinkering to the test, with the possibility of commercialisation as the end goal.”

The 2014 programme will culminate in New Zealand’s first electric motorsport event on 30 November 2014 at Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Ruapuna, in Christchurch. The event will include an electric car efficiency rally, standing sprints and lap sprints. In the go kart category, entrants are encouraged to get imaginative with both their vehicle designs and team costumes, with an award for the most creative entry, as well as best performance. In the motorbike and car categories, there will be awards for best presented vehicle, in addition to performance awards. There will also be performance combustion cars versus electric car sprints and public test drive opportunities.

“New Zealanders are known for innovative number-eight wire mentality, particularly when it comes to developing ‘green’ alternatives, such as the use of electricity as a renewable, low-emission transport fuel,” says Mr McEwen.

“This is a multi-million dollar innovation opportunity – and what better way to encourage the bright spark of learning and ingenuity than through a motorsport event.”

Entries for each competition are open now. For more information, visit or

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