Is New Zealand’s infrastructure ready for use in electric vehicles?

New EV chargers are popping up all over New Zealand.

Whether it is government, finance or environmentally conscious, the Electric Vehicle Revolution is fast approaching the fever pitch here in New Zealand and we are all invited to join the party. But the massive query is, is our EV charging community ready? The simple answer is probably yes.

When it comes to EV charging, virtually every home or office plug is capable of refuelling your vehicle, and the Energy Efficiency and Protection Authority (EECA), which says that 80% of EV owners choose to charge at home, is exactly what she wrote, right?  Well that’s not enough.

Most NZ journeys are between 20 and 40 kilometres per day, so the imported EVs have about 100km range / battery life.  But the Kiwis seem to be an adventurous group, and if we choose to wander further away, we become a little nervous and giddy.  And despite our friendly nature, we are not willing to knock on strangers’ doors and ask them to borrow their energy at any time.

New Zealand has one petrol station for every 72.3km of road and one EV charging station for every 156km off-road, but charging stations are closing the gap fast.

So if we are some distance from home, how do New Zealand’s current public speed chargers compare to our inherent belief that there is a good ‘ol gas station nearby?  I’m glad you asked.

This may surprise you, but according to Waka Kotahi, New Zealand’s 268,000km2 territory, 94,000km of it is made up of roads.  So when we divide the estimated 1,300 gas stations across the country, that equates to a refuelling station every 72.3 km.  Not exactly on every street corner as many people think but it is clear enough to alleviate the fear or anxiety of most gas-guzzlers.


Confused by all the acronyms around electrified vehicles?  Here is the meaning of the three most common.

By comparison, at present (pun intended), New Zealand has roughly half the number of public charging facilities, equivalent to one for every 156 km.  Not bad considering the infrastructure it took just eight years to get to this point, as opposed to our first petrol ‘Bowser’ network (launched in New Zealand Northland in May 2014 with a public speed charging station) started nearly a century ago in 1926.  .

As with many automotive brands and models out there, the EV battery range varies considerably, ranging from the aforementioned second-hand imports to those that look happy in their rear-view mirrors, going 600 km.  However, to keep things simple for this article, according to Gentles, ‘For most new EVs, 300km is easily accessible’, so let’s use it as a benchmark.

Waka Katohi boasts that New Zealand’s State Highway Network has nearly 11,000 kilometres of road (5981.3 km on the North Island and 4924.4 km on the South Island) and a nationwide fast / rapid direct current (DC) range in 2017.  Chargers every 75km along them.  This means that if you stick to Red Shield roads, even a low-end vehicle can travel on InterCity.

Overall, that goal has been achieved, with 50kW at Charger Bluff South and 50kW and 25kW near Cape Reinga, with 600 near.  However, the largest ‘gaps’ in the highway network, from the host to the Wanaka SH6, are about 150 km with plenty of ‘battery draining’ hills (which recharge only 30% of the slope).  Or, if you are in the 100km radius of Wangamomona along the SH43, you may want to make sure your vehicle is posting at least 200km of coverage.


Most chargers are worth the wait, but faster chargers are better.

Things start to get a little more interesting when you go to some 83,000km local roads (17,298.3km urban and 65,600.7km rural), but even then, New Zealand’s charging infrastructure is rapidly gaining coverage despite some anomalies.

Debbie Van der Schyff According to ABB New Zealand sales solution experts, New Zealand as a whole is well covered, but there are some ‘dark areas’, power supply is a problem in remote locations and therefore it is impossible to add a charger.

“It may be the quit of the road for the application business enterprise and there may be no electricity to be had or it will likely be unstable.”

Ironically, in the vicinity of the Van der Schaeff Arthur’s Pass, nature opposes the addition of charging stations because it is very windy and climatic as you move up the ranges, but in the lower areas, it is vulnerable to graft keys.  To peck through rubber cables – don’t they know we’re doing it for them?

Most people use public charging stations for 20 to 40 minutes, which means you have to wait for the one that is in use.

In fairness, even with New Zealand’s current public charging coverage, range anxiety is diminishing and cue anxiety, as demand for high urban charger density is increasing.  EECA found that 41 percent of EV-owned respondents said long wait times were the biggest reason for not using public charging stations, while the same report found that most people using public charging stations last between 20 and 40 minutes.

To combat this, the network not only adds high speed / hyper chargers (it is the vehicle that directs the charging speed) but also creates ‘charging hubs’ to add and charge units for up to four vehicles at a time.  Waiting times.

Last but not least, โ€˜inconvenient placesโ€™ are also cited as a reason against charging outdoors, but donโ€™t worry, this is also being sorted out.  In addition to the charging facilities beside most facilities, ABB is in the process of adding charging points to our trusted and reliable gas stations.  Both Z and BP have taken the EV charging mantle with the Z, and by 2022 they are looking to add 30+ EV chargers to their 14 sites as a first step in the roll-out plan.

Therefore, toilets, fresh coffee, comprehensive food options and comfortable surroundings are all on the way to enjoying and charging you while charging.  Perhaps this EV future is not so bad.

Drive Pilots

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