Five electric vehicles begin Wellington trial

The Wellington City Council is working with Meridian Energy, Mitsubishi Motors, New Zealand Post Group and The Wellington Company to trial Mitsubishi iMiEVs in Wellington for the next two years. By the end of the year eight iMiEVs will be powering around the streets of the Capital.

The four-seater, lithium ion batteries powered iMiEV has a range of up to 155 km and zero drive-time emissions.

The launch event, open to the public, will provide an opportunity to photograph or film the vehicles in Civic Square from 12 noon to 2pm, with the formal launch ceremony at 12.30pm.

Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast said that as 45% of journeys to work in Wellington are by car, truck or van, the opportunity to reduce vehicle emissions is great news for Wellington. “It’s fantastic that Wellington is playing a leadership role in trialling electric cars,” she says.

The trial would demonstrate that electric cars are viable in Wellington and help identify any barriers to their widespread adoption, such as the need for charging stations.

“With land transport producing more than a third of the city’s greenhouse gases, electric vehicles have a part to play in our goal of significantly reducing the Capital’s greenhouse emissions by 2020,” Mayor Prendergast says. She thanks the trial partners for their vital part in bringing the iMiEVs to Wellington.

“There is huge interest in trialling these vehicles around the world. Mitsubishi Motors New Zealand made the case to its parent company in Japan that Wellington would be an ideal testing ground with our open attitude to new technology; our short average commutes, our commitment to sustainability – and our hills,” Mayor Prendergast says. “Our other partners, New Zealand Post Group, Meridian and The Wellington Company, have also been critical. Without their support we would not have had this trial.

“These visionary businesses have made a strong commitment to developing more sustainable ways of doing business. By working together we will gain a better understanding of how this exciting technology could change the way we travel and do business in Wellington,” Mayor Prendergast says.

Mitsubishi Motors spokesperson Daniel Cook adds: “This is a hugely exciting opportunity to introduce the first production electric vehicles to New Zealand – the revolutionary Mitsubishi iMiEV is a whole new way of thinking about transportation, embodying the latest developments in technological innovation. The high-power, low noise, electric engine delivers a drive unlike any vehicle on New Zealand roads.

“The iMiEV is a four-door hatchback with a maximum speed of 130kmh and a driving range of up to 155km. This is all achieved on a seven-and-a-half-hour charge from a 15-amp socket in the home.

“This trial is an exciting demonstration of future technology that Mitsubishi has made available today. Working with the Council and local business will enable us to access the potential for this innovative new vehicle, while further establishing Wellington City as an environmental leader and innovator,” Mr Cook says.

New Zealand Post CEO Brian Roche says with such a large vehicle fleet, it makes sense for New Zealand Post to investigate new technology that could result in lower fuel costs and more sustainable operations. “New Zealand Post utilises 1900 road vehicles, consuming significant amounts of fossil fuels at great cost. We have an obligation to explore alternatives which could deliver cheaper, more efficient and sustainable solutions to our fleet demands,” Mr Roche says. “There is a clear link between our investment in reducing environmental impacts and reducing the operating costs of our business. This trial is about good business sense as well as sustainability.

“New Zealand Post Group needs to trial electric vehicle technology in real time, on New Zealand roads, in local conditions if we’re to be able to make informed decisions about our vehicle fleet in the future,” Mr Roche says.

Meridian Energy Chief Executive Tim Lusk says the trial is a rare opportunity for a renewable-electricity company to help showcase a new era of clean and environmentally-responsible transport. “The growing awareness of both the economic and environmental cost of burning fossil fuels means the search for viable transport alternatives has become a priority world-wide,” Mr Lusk says.

“With so much of our electricity produced from renewable sources, electric vehicles offer New Zealand a real opportunity to reduce harmful emissions and make a real contribution to a cleaner healthier environment. We want New Zealanders to get excited about electric cars so that we are one of the first countries to adopt them once they go into mass production.”

The Wellington Company Managing Director Ian Cassels says: “the electric car is perfect for showcasing Wellington and its compactness. Diesel fumes and noisy motors have no place on our Golden Mile – we’re confident that the horseless carriage will now be elegant and quiet. Wellingtonians love walking and they will certainly be happy with the proliferation of these amiable and clever little critters.”