NEW ZEALAND CLASSIC CAR PRICE ON Electric Cars and the Price of Petrol
Greg Price Are these two inextricably linked?
In 2006 a very interesting documentary was released on DVD, entitled Whokilledtheelectriccar? — the liner notes of the DVD claimed that, “In 1996, electric cars began to appear on roads all over California. They were quiet and fast, produced no exhaust and ran without gasoline. Ten years later these cars were destroyed. Running solely on electricity, General Motors’ fleet of EV-1 electric vehicles were so efficient, they were on the brink of altering the future of driving in America — perhaps even the world. Those lucky enough to drive one gave it glowing reviews. So why were they all destroyed?”
A very good question! Let’s hold that thought for the moment and switch to talking about the price of petrol.
In October 2014, we saw the international costs of a barrel of oil start to fall — so much so that we all began to question when the petrol price was going to follow. As is always the case, drops in the price of oil do not always lead to a reduction in the price of petrol at the pumps.
The next interesting development arrived in November 2014, when the chief executive of Orion NZ (an Electricity Network Company) announced that it was considering installing devices which would control when the batteries on electric vehicles will be charged. Seemingly, Orion wanted people to charge their electric vehicles at night, presumably in the same manner as they dictate to us when we can heat our hot water. Whatever, the implication for me was that electric cars were about to become a reality for us in New Zealand.
An Increasing Trend
Recalling the aforementioned 2006 documentary, ‘rising petrol prices’ were cited as being a possible reason for the development of electric car technology. I’m sure it was a coincidence, but around the same time as the Orion CE was expounding electric car technology, we started to see a sustained drop in the price of a barrel of oil and, surprisingly, pump-price reductions followed. In February 2015, Mighty River Power was also pushing electric-car technology. Meantime, internationally the cost of electric cars was reducing, and the distance they could travel was increasing. In that same month, there were reportedly only around 300 or so electric and plug-in hybrids in the country, with the expectation that the trend would increase.
Back to the price of petrol — in January 2015 it was reported that since October 2014 the price of a litre of fuel had dropped a whopping 42 cents!
However, also in February 2015 the falling exchange rate did an about turn and started to affect the price of oil once again, in that there was a seven cent rise in the price at the pumps.
Looking at the big picture for the purpose of this argument, it is important to consider that, apparently, one of the reasons why the oil price fell so much was the oil-producing cartels were becoming concerned that the US had become selfsufficient in its oil production — albeit via the expensive fracking method. There was concern that America would no longer be dependent on the oil cartels, and the corresponding reduction North America’s need to import oil would produce a level of independence previously unheard of. Well, that’s a possible reason for the oil cartels keeping the oil price down, isn’t it? What better way to stop America producing its own oil, than helping ensure it is not cost effective? After all, the US had previously been described as being addicted to foreign oil! However, going back to the increasing development of electric-car technology and its efficiencies for the moment, one could suspect that the main reason for the sustained drop in oil prices could be the threat to the oil industry cartel’s income posed by the increasing uptake of electric-car technology.
The Orion chief executive claims the average petrol cost for the New Zealand driver is around $2500 per annum, and that would drop to around $500 per annum with an electric car. So, using my fingers and toes, that equates to around an 80 per cent reduction in New Zealand’s annual petrol imports — which reportedly amounts to around three billion litres, costing the country some four billion dollars. Will the NZ government want to lose the GST component on a few billion litres of petrol?
Being a conspiracy theorist from way back, I reckon the (significant) fall in the oil price is the oil-producing nations’ way of attempting to kill off the electric car concept (yet again). If petrol is cheap, then the financial incentive for owning an electric car is no longer a factor in your choice of car decision. In my opinion, electric cars will not feature prominently on our roads (or any country’s roads for that matter) any time soon, because there is too much money at stake for too many interests.
Keep an eye on the global oil price. If it tracks back up to or past pre-october 2014 levels then my argument fails somewhat, but my view is that electric cars will never be the principal form of transport in the foreseeable future.
I mean, can you really envisage a battery-powered V8 muscle car?
The EJ EH Owners of NZ is a group on Facebook, which Joshua Bentham created in November 2014 after purchasing his first EH Holden from Nelson in September. The group has rapidly grown, and now includes 70 EJ and EH Holdens with friendly and passionate owners nationwide.
The group has designed its own logo as well as stickers for the cars, featuring a steering wheel with the red centre cap which best represents the symbolic features of the EJ and EH Holden. The logo went through a voting and comment process so that all members had their say in it, and this is reflected in the quality of the end result.
The group aims to be different to other Facebook groups by keeping a current album of all members’ cars, so a vehicle doesn’t just disappear down the news feed. It also has an album of other EJ and EH Holdens known to be in New Zealand.
Members like to help each other out with motivation and parts, and when possible get more old Holdens out of garages, on the road, and driven to shows and events.
Last month the group had its inaugural group meeting at Whangamata Beach Hop on the Saturday, and even with the bad weather 18 cars turned up, 11 of which were driven by members, while others came by word of mouth. Next year the aim is to do it all again and hope to get 25 to 30 EJ and EH Holdens to the park up (hopefully the weather will be better) to make it more pleasant.
The club is also in the process of creating cruises and promoting other events to help get the group members together, getting to know one another, and learning facts about one another’s vehicles.
The group has a range of Premier and Special models in all body shapes of sedan, van, ute and wagon variants, and some members own more than one or even two EJ or EH, proof that owning a Holden can be quite contagious.
There’s an open invitation for other EJ and EH Owners to join the group on Facebook.