Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search


Study shows electric cars bring environmental benefits


14 May 2014

Study shows electric cars bring environmental benefits

If electric vehicles were widely available, New Zealanders would buy enough of them to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector by one-fifth over the next 18 years, new research from Victoria University of Wellington shows.

PhD researcher Doug Clover says there are currently only a couple of hundred electric vehicles on the road in New Zealand, but his study into the preferences of potential car buyers shows people are keen to purchase them.

“I surveyed people intending to buy a car in the next five years and found that if electric vehicles were easy to buy now, 20 percent of those surveyed would choose them.”

Doug then used a type of behavioural modelling known as discrete choice to estimate demand for electric vehicles up until 2030. His projections used the information gathered in his survey and scenarios of different levels of government support and different rates of improvement in electric vehicle (EV) technology.

“In all the scenarios,” says Doug, “plug-in hybrid cars (which can be switched to fuel when battery life runs out) are the most popular option, followed by city EVs, or small electric vehicles, with a range of around 100 kilometres.”

Family car replacements—larger EVs which can seat five to seven people, tow a trailer and have a range of around 300 kilometres—were consistently the least popular option due to the high cost of batteries says Doug, never making up more than 12 percent of the EV fleet by 2030.

But while Doug’s research found that EVs have potential to make a significant dent in the greenhouse gas emissions produced by cars and light vehicles in New Zealand, the gains would be wiped out by continued use of coal-fired electricity generation.

“Under current conditions, with a low price on carbon, it still makes economic sense to use coal plants to meet the increasing demand for electricity. The price of carbon needs to rise to ensure that this rising demand for electricity is met through the use of renewable energy, which we have plenty of in New Zealand.”

There are currently around 2.6 million light vehicles in the national fleet and New Zealanders drive, on average, 38 kilometres a day.

That, says Doug, makes EVs viable as most current models have a driving range of between 100 and 150 kilometres before the battery needs to be recharged.

He says an EV is around three to five times more efficient than a vehicle powered by the conventional internal combustion engine.

Doug believes EVs are potentially a “game-breaking” technology, although his research shows there are barriers to uptake.

“The biggest ones are the high purchase price, limited driving range and access to battery charging facilities. If the Government wants to encourage uptake of EVs, what would make the most difference is having a network of easily accessible charging points, especially for those living in apartments or with no garage.”

Energy storage is also an issue says Doug. “When a battery can no longer power an EV, it still retains around 80 percent of its capacity. We need to be looking at ways of reconditioning them and selling them for other purposes.”

Doug has had a career working in energy and transport policy roles for government agencies and as a consultant but he says completing a PhD was one of the most difficult and challenging assignments he’s undertaken.

“The problem solving I had to do really stretched me in new ways.”


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Scoop Review Of Books: Worldly And Unworldly

"Being Magdalene" by Fleur Beale The situations shown in this youth novel are shocking, scary, and very moving as we experience Magdalene’s struggle to be a perfect girl as defined by the cruel and unreasonable leader of “The Children of the Faith”, as she moves reluctantly into young womanhood. More>>

Whistle Stop: Netball NZ To Implement New INF Rules

Netball New Zealand (NNZ) will implement the new Official Rules of Netball, as set down by the International Netball Federation (INF), from January 1, 2016. Key changes include the elimination of whistle following a goal, amendments to injury time and changes to setting a penalty. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Waiata Aroha

Vaughan Rapatahana on Chappy by Patricia Grace: With this eminently readable novel Patricia Grace returns to the full-length fiction stage after a hiatus of ten years. More>>

'Ithaca' At Q Theatre: Introducing NZ's World Class Cirque Troupe

NZ’s very own cirque troupe is set to become a household name with the premier of its adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey having secured a key season in Auckland. More>>

Music Awards: The Tuis Are Broody This Year

Topping off a sensationally eventful year both at home and internationally, Nelson born brother-sister duo Broods has taken home four Tuis from this year’s 50th annual Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. More>>


Sport: Richie McCaw Retires From Rugby

Richie McCaw has today confirmed he is hanging up his boots and retiring from professional rugby. The 34-year-old All Blacks captain and most capped All Black of all time has drawn the curtain on his stunning international career which started in Dublin 14 years ago, almost to the day, and ended in London last month when he hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup aloft for the second time. More>>


John McBeth: On Jonah Lomu

For many New Zealanders, the enormity of Jonah Lomu's reputation will have come as a surprise... His deeds were watched and enthused over by movie stars and musicians, politicians and superstars from other codes. He reached into the lives and homes of millions and mixed with famous people most New Zealanders would only have read about. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news