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Electrifying the Thermal Explorer Highway – Fast-Chargers Connect Hawke’s Bay and Central North Island for EV Drivers

Travel between Hawke’s Bay and the Central North Island in an electric vehicle (EV) became easier this week with two fast-chargers commissioned on State Highway 5 – a 140 kilometre stretch of road, which is both a key transport link and popular tourist route.

The chargers, which are located at the Rangitaiki Lodge and on the corner of SH5 and McVicar Road at Te Haroto, were co-funded by the Government’s Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund.

With June seeing the highest number of EVs registered in a single month Unison Group Chief Executive, Ken Sutherland says they come at a critical time.

“The Thermal Explorer Highway is a key transport link between Central North Island and Hawke’s Bay with almost 3,000 vehicles travelling the road each day, or over one million each year.

“While Unison expects most EV charging to happen overnight at home, for longer journeys the chargers enable the growing number of EV drivers to travel comfortably between these two regions without range anxiety as well as easily access regions further afield,” says Mr Sutherland.

‘Range anxiety’ is a term given to concerns from EV drivers that the car’s battery will run out of power and is one of the most significant barriers to EV adoption.

EECA CEO, Andrew Caseley welcomed the new chargers, “This highway helps to bridge a significant national travel gap, which we hope will further encourage the uptake of EVs.

We’re on target to achieve the goal of 64,000 EVs on the road in New Zealand by the end of 2021 and charging infrastructure like this will help EV drivers today and those in the future.”

Council support across Unison’s network regions has allowed Unison’s EV charging programme to develop at a rapid rate over the last year and seen six chargers commissioned since the first in Hastings at the end of May last year.

Unison has been working closely with NZTA to ensure the chargers are well sign-posted for EV drivers. The two chargers are free to use for the first three months and will be 40c/kWh thereafter, so a typical charge for 20 minutes will cost $8.00.


For more information, contact:
Danny Gough
Unison Relationship Manager
021 739461

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