Electric vehicles offer benefits for New Zealand

Fuel cost savings for consumers, less reliance on imported fossil fuels and reduction in transport-related greenhouse gases are among the benefits of adopting electric vehicles and fuelling cars with New Zealand’s largely renewable electricity.

“With so much of our electricity produced from renewable sources, and so much of our current greenhouse gas emissions coming from transport, electric vehicles offer New Zealand a real opportunity to reduce emissions without compromising on quality of life,” Meridian Energy Chief Executive Tim Lusk said.

The adoption of electric vehicles will also enhance energy security, and benefit New Zealand’s balance of payments, with the demand for offshore oil diminishing over time.

"This technology can make a contribution to decreasing our reliance on imported fossil fuels and improve our energy security and self sufficiency,” Contact Managing Director David Baldwin said.

Meridian’s electric vehicle programme started four years ago.

Over this time we have built up a significant amount of knowledge about how this exciting new technology could be integrated in to New Zealanders every day lives.

Electric vehicles are a great alternative to traditional internal combustion vehicles because they:

* Cost much less to run – Approximately a quarter the cost of running a conventional vehicle
* Don’t emit any pollution when you’re driving around town
* Have great performance
* Are quiet
* Cost less to maintain
* Remove the need to visit a petrol station – you simply plug it in at home and charge up overnight.

Meridian Energy and Mitsubishi New Zealand embarked on a nation wide trial of the iMiEV electric vehicle from January to April 2009.

The trial covered seven towns and cities across the nation, giving thousands of kiwis the chance to drive this exciting evolution in personal transportation.

We put some well known New Zealanders in to the vehicle to see what they thought and their reactions speak for themselves:

* “This car gets the Mad Butcher’s seal of approval” – The Mad Butcher
* “It’s so quiet, you can’t even tell it’s on!” – Tiki Tane
* “We can just sit at this light and not get anxious about the exhaust!” – Laurie Foon
* “It’s a real city car this one isn’t it” – Christine Prince
* “It gets along alright doesn’t it” – Ewen Gilmour
* “Vehicle emissions, imagine the health benefits”– Peri Drysdale
* “It’s quite futuristic isn’t it” – Philip Kraall
* “I’m just enjoying the guilt free” – Laurie Foon
* “It has a feeling of cleanliness” – Philip Kraall

Electric cars are ideally suited to New Zealand due to our abundance of renewable electricity, relatively short commuting distances and short recharging times – enabled by our ubiquitous 230V electricity network.

Meridian hopes to see more electric vehicles on New Zealand roads in the near future.

International vehicle manufacturers are already producing electric vehicles and expectations are that they will arrive in the New Zealand market over the next decade.

We are currently looking at innovative ways to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicles and continue to research this exciting industry.

Meridian is committed to generating electricity only from renewable energy sources. We are working on a range of wind power projects as well as new hydro projects where they are cost effective and environmentally responsible.

These include West Wind farm in Makara in the south-west corner of Wellington, Project Hayes, north of Dunedin on the Lammermoor Range, the North Bank Tunnel Concept on the Waitaki river, Mokihinui hydro proposal on the Mokihinui River in the Buller district on the West Coast and the Manapouri Tailrace Amended Discharge project.