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Watercare’s EV’s fleet accelerates

Watercare’s vehicle fleet is undergoing a quiet revolution, growing from five to 30 new Electric Vehicles in just under a year.

In September, three new Hyundai Kona and 20 Hyundai Ioniq arrived with another two Ioniqs going to the Central Interceptor team this month, meaning more than 33% of Watercare’s entire passenger fleet is now electric. The old petrol vehicles (some of which were ten years old) will be sold.

Watercare fleet manager, Samantha Schofield says the new cars bring many benefits: “Typically, the old vehicles would use around 40,000 litres of fuel, costing us around $95,000 per year. EVs cost the equivalent of around 30 cents/litre to fully charge their battery (on slow charge), so we’ll be making significant savings on fuel costs and more importantly, from now we’ll be removing 45 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the environmentand that’s so exciting!
Watercare is committed to energy efficiency and the EVs are helping us to achieve our sustainability goals.”

New fleet EV charging points have been installed at Newmarket, Pukekohe and Māngere Wastewater Treatment Plants. Rosedale Wastewater Treatment Plant will receive five double chargers this month, with plans to gradually roll out chargers at other sites, including Ardmore and Warkworth Water Treatment Plants.

A different approach is being taken for heavy-duty vehicles, such as trucks, vans and utes. Schofield says the current cost of electric trucks is disproportionate compared to diesel models: “There is a limited range of EV trucks around and now they can cost three quarters of a million dollars, as opposed to $250,000 for a standard diesel truck.

As a result, we’re investigating the opportunity of sourcing hydrogen from wastewater or re-purposing methane gas and converting it into hydrogen, which we can use to power our heavy vehicle fleet in future.”

Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles are far quicker to fill up: around six minutes instead of 12 hours (on slow charge). They also have good range (approximately 650 kilometres) and have the same instant torque and quiet performance.

Coincidentally, the Government has recently outlined its plans for how hydrogen fuel will hope to be used in New Zealand. A quarter of a million dollars will go to ‘First Gas’, which owns all the natural gas pipelines in the North Island, to figure out how to use their pipes to pump hydrogen.

With more EVs in the Watercare fleet, Schofield is reminding staff to be mindful about their journey distances and planning their route: “We recently had a staff member who took five hours to get back from Ngaruawahia because they couldn’t find a fast charge point and a top-up in Huntly using a slow charger took forever.

By the time she got to our Pukekohe plant the vehicle had just 1% charge left!”

For short distances, staff are being encouraged to consider taking alternative, more sustainable travel options: such as public transport.

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