Electric vehicles run on electricity. Unlike conventional vehicles that use a petrol or diesel powered engine, electric vehicles and trucks use an electric motor powered by electricity from batteries or a fuel cell. In the next few years what the average New Zealander drives will be very different from the past. Electric vehicles are generally gaining popularity throughout the world, mostly because their reputation as cost-effective, environmentally friendly machines. Although this is the case overseas, only a relatively small number of electric vehicles are used in New Zealand. In this country renowned for its environment protection policies, there is a general reluctance by the public to introduce electric vehicles (EVS) into the mainstream market. This topic is essential and important to New Zealand and the general public because we are an environmentally conscious country and our environment and its image needs to be protected. The world is running out of crude oil and electric vehicles have already been decided as the path towards the future. Eventually the use of the electric vehicles will save people money and preserve the planet's natural resources.
Most people are aware that there is a clear difference between electric and conventional gasoline vehicles. Whereas conventional vehicles burn fuel in an internal combustion engine, battery-powered electric vehicles do not have an engine. Instead, they use energy stored in batteries to power one or more electric motors. Interest in electric vehicles returned during the oil during the 1970s and 1980s, when oil went up to $12 USD per gallon. However, electric vehicles had never gained enough popularity to go into mass production. Despite this, electric vehicles have been making a comeback since 2008, with the introduction of fully electric vehicles such as the Tesla Motors Roadster, and the extremely affordable Nissan Leaf. This comeback is the result of car companies' innovation in the electric car field, making cars good enough to rival equivalent petrol or diesel cars.
According to the Ministry of Transport (Government website), "Electric vehicles have the potential to make a contribution to the transition to a low-carbon economy, without compromising the power and efficiency of cars and without tampering with the economic growth of New Zealand." Several recent local studies have found that New Zealand is well suited for electric vehicles for many reasons. According to EECA's (Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority) report, just over 80 percent of the country's electricity is generated from renewable sources. This means that New Zealand has more than enough consented renewable electricity generation waiting to support the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. In creased use of electric vehicles will replace petrol and diesel with clean, green, locally produced energy, lessening our reliance on imported oil. Z. Energy New Zealand has set up many free charging stations at their petrol stations and Vector (Auckland) has set up 3 fast charging stations in the Auckland CBD. The infrastructure will continue to improve as the use of electric vehicles increases. People are worried about the time it takes for an electric car to charge, however charging times are getting shorter as technology progresses. For instance, a Nissan Leaf can be charged to 80% in just 20 minutes at a paid charging station by Charge Net NZ, costing 25 cents per 1/2 hour. This enables long distance travel throughout New Zealand as these chargers are now placed throughout the country. Currently there are around 165 chargers, with a new one installed every 2 weeks. The time it takes for electric vehicles to charge is undoubtedly getting shorter, with Tesla Motors (USA), prototyping a charger that charges their car batteries in around 5 minutes.
Charging at home means that the public can fuel their cars almost anywhere, making every house a recharging centre. Businesses are also providing free charging at their workplaces thus enabling people to charge while at work without interrupting work production. The Ministry of Transport shows that New Zealand motorists drive on average 29 kilometres per day. Average commutes in city centres such as Auckland City are even shorter, at about 22 kilometres a day – a distance electric vehicles can handle easily without recharging. Most New Zealand homes have offstreet parking (85%), meaning that electric vehicles can be easily charged overnight at home. New Zealand's 230-volt electricity system also means every home has the potential to charge an electric vehicle. A huge misconception by the public is that electric vehicles are more expensive to run that petrol and diesel cars. On the contrary, electric vehicles are cheaper to run than petrol or diesel vehicles. On average, charging an electric vehicle at home is equivalent to buying petrol at 30 cents a litre, compared to petrol, which is around $2 a litre. Most charging stations in New Zealand are free. A lot of them are located in convenient places like supermarkets, service stations and some car parks. Paid charging stations are more common and they normally charge around 25 cents per half an hour.
There are many studies showing the benefits of EVs and other countries like Norway have almost banned petrol cars with great outcomes. However, negative public attitudes are responsible for the delay in introducing electric vehicles into New Zealand. In the New Zealand market, many car dealers have EV cars available, second hand or brand new. Prices range from $4520 to $127900, which is similar to petrol cars' price range. However, from VTNZ's statistics, we find that only very to petrol cars' price range. However, from VTNZ's statistics, we find that only very few purchases are made on electric vehicles. As of June 2017, only 3834 electric vehicles have been registered in New Zealand, whereas there are currently around 2,848,000 petrol and diesel cars in New Zealand. The Pulse "Energy for Life" survey shows that 85% of New Zealanders would buy an electric car. According to the survey, New Zealanders are poised to fully embrace electric vehicles. However, only a small number of people take the action to purchase electric vehicles. Many people who show the interest of using electric vehicles are unaware of the benefits that EVS pose. For example, many New Zealanders seem unaware that the electricity used for electric vehicles is cheaper than petrol. In fact, 64% of the respondents in the survey thought that the electricity used in cars is the same or more expensive than petrol when in fact it is far less expensive than petrol. The survey revealed that the three biggest barriers currently limiting greater uptake of electric vehicles for the public are, the perceived limited travel range of electric vehicles, access to convenient charging locations and the charging time required for electric vehicles. The Pulse survey shows that people's perception of EVs affects the general acceptance of them into the mainstream market, which may be the reason for the delay of the introduction of EVs into the New Zealand mainstream market. This suggests that our public needs to become more aware and change its attitudes towards electric vehicles as well as make use of the infrastructure the government has invested in New Zealand.
At present New Zealand has robust infrastructure for charging and maintaining electric vehicles. Government transport policies are focused on enabling the general public to achieve zero emission transport cheaply. New Zealand drivers should switch to driving in electric cars to accelerate the transition to a zero emission future. We already have the technology we need to cure our addiction to petrol and diesel, stabilise the climate and maintain our standard of living, all at the same time. By transitioning to sustainable technologies, such as solar and wind power, not only can we achieve energy independence and stabilise human-induced climate change, but also save money in the process as well.
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