Electric Car Future in New Zealand


According to an expert, the rewards to be reaped from the use of electric vehicles for New Zealand would be much greater compared to other countries. This was the statement given by Ex-pat Aucklander Ed Kjaer. Kjaer is an expert on electric vehicles and is currently working in one of the biggest American utility vehicles, Southern California Edison.

It is acknowledged that California is the electric vehicle capital in the United States and Kjaer has seen the potential that electric vehicles have in transforming motor vehicles and eventually wean economies from their continued dependence on motor oil.

Kjaer made these remarks during the Electric Vehicle Symposia held in Auckland and Wellington last week. He added that New Zealand suits EVs well as like the United States, there is an excess electricity capacity in the evenings when people are asleep. This is the best time to recharge the battery packs of electric vehicles.

He said, “Urbanites in our main centers tend to have garages where EVs can be charged, whereas half of city-dwellers in the US don’t. New Zealand’s electricity supply is particularly clean, which offers the possibility of cleaner air and a big dent in the country’s carbon emissions. Also, the New Zealand economy is hostage to volatile oil prices as it has to import nearly all its oil compared to the US which is a big oil producer and is ramping up extraction rapidly.”

Kjaer observed that the New Zealand economy is a slave to the volatility of gasoline. Furthermore, New Zealand imposes taxes on petrol more heavily than the United States and a reduction in the consumption would be worthwhile.

Kjaer lives the EV lifestyle, as the lifetime costs of electric vehicles would beat the costs of a the gasoline powered. He only operates EVs in his own household, as he charges them during the evenings in his garage. He claims he gets the equivalent of 100 kilometers from using just 1.3 liters of petrol. This in turn would result in lower overall lifetime costs compared to his use of gasoline powered cars.

Even with the lower long term costs, the electric car revolution is going at a snail’s pace and a major part of the problem is the front loaded aspects of the cost, making electric vehicles more expensive to purchase gasoline powered cars.

This has become a come on for businesses, such as taxis in Auckland. Many have opted to purchase Priuses since they can reap the benefits of being environmentally friendly, which in turn entices customers to use them or their overall cost efficiency. This though is the exception rather than the norm, not just in New Zealand, but the world over.

Until and unless the initial overall costs are lowered, this would remain the major stumbling block that would limit the advancement of the electric vehicle revolution.