100 Wellington drivers test electric vehicles

A survey of around 100 people who have been taking part in the trial of Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicles in the capital found those who drove them were pleasantly surprised at their power, how far they travelled before needing to be charged – and that they would willingly drive one again given the choice.

The research was commissioned by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, a government agency, and carried out by Synovate, a market research company.

Eight Mitsubishi i-MiEV all-electric vehicles were leased in Wellington as part of a two-year trial run by Wellington City Council. Trial participants included the Council, New Zealand Post, The Wellington Company and Meridian Energy. The trial started in September 2010 with five vehicles, with three more arriving in December 2010.

Overall, the feedback from employees who used the vehicles, including 37 from the Council, was positive. The research found:

· The experience of driving the EV was given an average score of 8.5 out of 10

· More than 60 percent of those who drove the car would prefer to drive an EV again if given a choice.

· More than 50 percent of those who drove the car agreed their opinion of EVs has “gone way up”.

· Pre-trial concerns about the quietness of the car, lack of range and not being powerful enough were unfounded.

Drivers found the electric vehicle was ideal for most urban transport needs.

EECA Chief Executive Mike Underhill says the survey would help companies considering investing in electric vehicle fleets to assess the pros and cons.

“This trial is helping bust some myths still out there about electric vehicles – that they’re slow, gutless and will barely get you to the shops without going flat,” says Mr Underhill. “Those who use cars a lot – such as courier drivers – can see that a car running on electricity is far cheaper. Fully charging the car costs around $2.50 for 150 kilometres of travel, compared with around $25 at the pump. Being powered by New Zealand’s highly renewable electricity supply, they’re a step towards helping us reduce carbon emissions too.”

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown participated in the trial, using the Council’s trial i-Miev pool car for mayoral business around the region. She has made return trips as far as Upper Hutt without a problem.

“Wellington’s streets and hills are easy for the i-MiEV – it makes short work of the Ngauranga Gorge, for example, and it’s certainly quieter and fume-free,” says the Mayor. “This trial has proven to me that electric vehicles are a viable option for many city dwellers and local businesses.”

The four-seater, battery-powered i-MiEV has a range of up to 155 kilometres. It takes about seven-and-a-half-hours to charge from a 15 amp socket in the home or business.