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Range Anxiety And NZ's PHEV Charging Station Infrastructure

New Zealanders are all creatures of habit. It's often human nature for us to stick to what is comfortable for us, and while it's perfectly natural to stay in our comfort zone, sometimes we can all be resistant to change even when it is beneficial for us. This becomes particularly apparent when new technologies and innovations emerge that challenge the current status quo. A particularly pertinent example of this is the automotive industry's shift towards the development of electric vehicle technology such as fully electric vehicles (Evs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), and classic hybrid vehicles.

The world has embraced the combustion engine for over a century. It is ingrained in our culture, with our urban landscapes being designed around its existence. With that design has been the implementation of the infrastructure to easily navigate around our country while seldom wondering where the next spot to fill up your tank is. With electric vehicles' reliance on electricity over petrol, it's no wonder that one of the biggest fears people have in regards to purchasing an EV or PHEV is "range anxiety”. But is this fear justified, or is it just fear-mongering from industries and society attempting to resist change?

What Exactly is "Range Anxiety"?

A quick Google search of the term "range anxiety" will bring up a slew of articles, stories, and images related to the topic, but what exactly is it? The official definition according to the Oxford English Dictionary is "a feeling of apprehension that one may not be able to reach their destination or required charge level due to the limited range of their electric vehicle." In short, it's the worry that an EV or PHEV driver has that they will not have enough power/charge to make it to their destination and potentially be stranded in a remote location with no ability to make it home or to a charging station.

The concept of “range anxiety” is most applicable to fully electric vehicles as they rely purely on battery power. Often, people extend this premise to also include plug-in electric hybrids, but this is a mistake. While PHEVs are capable of running purely off their battery power, and will spend most of their time in this fully electric mode, the inclusion of a combustion engine provides the ability to charge the battery on the go which not only extends their range, but also provides peace of mind when travelling to locations where you may not have access to a charging station.

In a recent consumer survey, the J.D. Power: the 2021 Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Ownership Study, range anxiety was cited as the most common reason for people not buying an electric vehicle. The technology is at the point where performance is no longer a compromise when compared to its combustion engine counterparts, the cost to own is competitive, and the ongoing savings on running cost are obvious... It's only the infrastructure for electric vehicles that has consumers hesitant.

But does "range anxiety" actually affect electric vehicle owners in New Zealand?

EV and PHEV Charging Infrastructure in New Zealand

One of the main arguments for those hesitant to purchase an electric vehicle is that there are not enough charging stations available, and even if there were, they would be located in urban areas where people live, work, and play, rather than on long-haul highways or cross-country trips.

However, this argument is quickly being debunked by both the New Zealand Government and private companies who have made considerable investments in the development of our electric vehicle infrastructure. In May 2021, New Zealand’s charging infrastructure hit a milestone, growing to the point that there is a fast/rapid direct current (DC) charging station at least every 75kms of our state highway network. This 96% coverage has been made possible by the governments co-funding through the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority’s (EECA’s) Low Emissions Vehicle Contestable Fund (LEVCF), having resulted in the installation of 600 public and over 400 private EV chargers.

Flash forward to the present year and this momentum into investing in Aotearoa’s charging infrastructure continues to make strides. It was announced in February 2022 that in total 13 Electric Vehicle charging projects will receive $3,001,400 in co-funding. This next stage in the Low Emission Vehicle Fund will focus on plugging the holes in the current infrastructure to provide better nationwide coverage. Multiple companies are receiving co-funding to allow this to happen. This includes ChargeNet installing eight ultra fast chargers in Auckland CBD, Whangarei and New Plymouth and Napier, ThunderGrid installing a fast charger in Masterton, Meridian installing two fast chargers in Christchurch, Jump Charging installing two chargers in Rakaia, as well as Z Energy installing 12 ultrafast chargers throughout the upper North Island.

To date, the New Zealand Government has funded more that 1,200 public and private EV chargers. With this round of funding, 25 additional public chargers co-funded will bring the total up to 731, with 561 of those already in operation.

“The EV charging network is growing fast and should give drivers confidence that an EV is a great choice, even on long-distance drives. In the last couple of years, we’ve plugged gaps in places like Bombay, Kaiwaka and Tauranga,” says Megan Woods, Minister of Energy and Resources.

While extending the fast charging infrastructure of New Zealand is an exciting prospect for the future, the country is already well and truly set up for PHEVs to thrive. By taking advantage of decades of fuel station infrastructure development while on the go and the ability to charge the battery at home from a standard NZ power outlet, PHEVs such as the Next Gen Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV fit perfectly into New Zealanders’ current day lifestyles.

While you’d be correct in thinking that the current infrastructure is better suited to a classic hybrid over an EV as they rely on a combustion engine that is being supported by battery powered electric motors, a classic hybrid still falls short to the flexibility of a PHEV. This is because, while PHEVs can run off combustion fuel, most drivers will spend the vast majority of their time driving in EV mode, with the combustion engine providing peace of mind that if they need extra power or to extend their range, the PHEV has them covered. This is how PHEV vehicles address perceived range anxiety while providing all the benefits of a fully electric vehicle.

To summarise, "range anxiety" is a real phenomenon that potential electric vehicle buyers experience when considering making the switch from a combustion engine car. However, with the introduction of an ever-growing network of EV charging stations around New Zealand, the worry is starting to dissipate as people become more comfortable with the idea of making the switch.

But what about people that have already bought electric vehicles and had time to see whether or not they faced this dreaded "range anxiety"? According to a recent poll by Flip the Fleet, which is a members group of 238 electric vehicle owners, 72% of drivers experience little or no range anxiety.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles Quell all Range Anxiety Fears

If range anxiety is still a lingering concern, it should be noted that the latest offerings of PHEVs from Mitsubishi address all your worries. While a fully electric vehicle can be a real issue once its battery has run out, PHEVs have a traditional combustion engine to provide peace of mind and get you to your destination stress free. Take the Next Gen Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV for example. Like a fully electric vehicle, the Outlander PHEV is capable of driving up to 84km purely on battery power. With the average Kiwi's daily commute being around 37km per day, this means fuel free freedom for your day-to-day lifestyle. But what about those longer trips? With the combustion engine running in parallel or series mode to keep the battery charged up, the Outlander PHEV has a combined range of over 800km. That's from Auckland to Wellington, and back, with a fuel economy of 1.6L/100km.

But what if transporting your family is the only piece of the puzzle? What if you want to tow a jet ski, small boat, trailer, or campervan? Well don't worry, because PHEVs can hold their own when it comes to PHEV towing capacity.

With Mitsubishi's latest range of PHEVs, range anxiety is a thing of the past.

Simon Lucas Mitsubishi are Auckland's Award Winning Suppliers of Mitsubishi PHEVs

Simon Lucas Mitsubishi has the entire range of Mitsubishi PHEVs, with well informed staff who can answer all of your questions and put your "range anxiety" to rest once and for all. Visit our North Shore Showroom today, book a test drive, and experience this incredible technology for yourself. Contact Simon Lucas Mitsubishi today.

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