Weekend Herald


New Zealand’s elec­tric- ve­hi­cle rapid charg­ing in­fras­truc­ture has grown at a rapid pace

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It’s a mea­sure of how quickly Bat­tery Elec­tric Ve­hi­cle ( BEV) charg­ing in­fras­truc­ture has devel­oped in New Zealand that we no longer have to ask where can you drive your BEV? It makes more sense to ask where can’t you drive it?

It’s fair to say that most BEVs are more than ca­pa­ble of most driv­ing that most Ki­wis do. The av­er­age daily driv­ing dis­tance for Ki­wis is less than 40km a day and that’s re­flected in the fact that 85 per cent of BEV charg­ing is still done at home. With a de­cent home quick- charg­ing set- up ( Audi has a do­mes­tic in­stal­la­tion of­fer­ing that’s less than

$ 1800 for most houses), you’re pretty much set for day- to- day driv­ing.

But for BEVs to re­ally be cred­i­ble as ev­ery­day trans­port, they have to be able to tackle longer drives and that’s where charg­ing in­fras­truc­ture comes in.

As we dis­cussed in our Green spe­cial on BEV charg­ing, most pub­lic sta­tions of­fer DC fast charg­ing of at least 50kW ( a se­lect few are much faster), so you’ll be able to get around 200km of range into a mod­ern BEV in un­der half an hour.

Charg­ing sta­tions in New Zealand are ac­tu­ally quite plen­ti­ful. The PlugShare web­site cur­rently lists 634 in­di­vid­ual charg­ing points around the coun­try — although in­cludes ev­ery pos­si­ble plug- in point, in­clud­ing car­a­van parks.

For a more real- world num­ber, we could look at ChargeNet, which is the largest provider of BEV fastcharg­ing in­fras­truc­ture in NZ. It cur­rently has nearly 200 sta­tions on its net­work and the num­ber is grow­ing, with 20 cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion and an­other 20- plus planned for 2021.

Im­pres­sive num­bers, but what does that mean in a prac­ti­cal sense for the BEV driver? The goal is a charger ev­ery 75km on main high­ways in the medium term and ul­ti­mately one ev­ery 50km.

Right now, if you have a BEV with at least 200km range ( and that’s ev­ery mod­ern model), you can pretty much drive any­where on main roads in New Zealand with­out run­ning out of charge.

One of the big­gest holes in the net­work has been over the South­ern Alps

( from Christchur­ch to Hok­i­tika, for ex­am­ple) and then from the WestCoast down to Cen­tral Otago. But that’s now be­ing plugged. This month a DC fast charger went live at Arthur’s Pass and two more are planned for Spring­field and Cas­tle Hill Vil­lage be­fore the end of the year.

The 420km drive from Hok­i­tika to Wa ¯ naka has also been a huge wall for many BEVs ( and chal­leng­ing ever for some longer- range mod­els); while the trip still re­quires some plan­ning, there’s now a charger at Franz Josef.

The south­ern­most ChargeNet DC sta­tion is Bluff; the north­ern­most is at Waitiki Land­ing, just a few kilo­me­tres from Cape Reinga.

There are cer­tainly still a few jour­neys that re­quire some fore­thought ( and maybe a lit­tle brav­ery). For ex­am­ple, New Ply­mouth to Te Kuiti is just 167km, but over some very de­mand­ing roads. How­ever, these are the ex­cep­tions rather than the rule. Run­ning a BEV re­quires a dif­fer­ent mind­set than sim­ply fill­ing up with petrol all the time, but once you’re on board with the lo­gis­tics of charg­ing, own­ing a BEV is no im­ped­i­ment to a proper Kiwi road trip.

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