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Electric vehicles can’t be our only focus

“Recently released figures showing that more New Zealanders are considering purchasing an electric vehicle are heartening, but it’s only a part of the puzzle,” says Paul Evans, Chief Executive of the Association of Consulting Engineers (ACENZ).

A Trade Me survey shows that 74 per cent of Kiwis are now considering an electric vehicle (EV) as their next vehicle. That compares with a similar study in 2018 when only half of the respondents said they'd look at an EV when they bought their next car.

Paul Evans says “That’s a big shift in attitude in a relatively short space of time. However, simply changing the type of private vehicle won’t deliver us the best outcomes.”

“Road transport is seen as one of the most straightforward items to address in the drive to cut carbon emissions in New Zealand. In Auckland, transport is the single most significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, making up 40 per cent of our total emissions. So, people often gravitate to EVs as the great panacea. While that transition is critically important, it can’t be our only area of focus.

“Enabling people to get out of their cars and walk, bike, scooter or take public transport provides many additional benefits. For example, research shows that people who cycle for their daily commute are happier and healthier than people who drive.

Paul Evans says “We should absolutely support a nationwide shift toward electric vehicles—especially for people living in areas where public transport, walking or cycling aren't feasible. However, in our urban centres, we have to put a strong focus on creating safe and convenient transport infrastructure that will enable people to leave their cars behind and lead healthier and happier lives.”

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