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New Zealand electric vehicle options

The uptake of electric vehicles is increasing as the choice of vehicle and range per charge increases, while cost to purchase decreases.  We expect vehicle options to continue to grow, as the infrastructure of fast chargers expands, and dealers see increasing demand.

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority's (EECA) latest booklet is available to download Buyer's Guide to Electric Vehicles  It includes tips on how to choose the right EV for your needs and information about batteries, range and charging. 

Buying New

As an example, the following range of new fully electric vehicles are available (on order) through dealerships in 2016.  There are a growing number of hybrid vehicles coming to market from brands like Mitsubishi with their family-friendly Outlander, and Audi’s A3 e-tron.

Model Price
Approx. Charge time
BMW i3

starting at around $83,500
130-160km or up to 340km with when the 647cc petrol powered generator (Range Extender or REx) kicks in.
125kW/250Nm, which can reach 100km/hr in 7.9 seconds
Around 8hrs (slow charger) or 80% charge in 30mins with a DC fast charger.
Renault Zoe 

Around 8hrs (slow charger) or 60mins with fast AC charger.
Renault Kangoo ZE 

Around 9hrs (slow charger).
Tesla Model 3
USD $35,000 (order via internet for delivery 2018).  340km  To be announced  Around 8hrs (slow charger) or 80% charge in 30mins with fast DC charger. 

If you are not quite yet ready to make the leap to full electric, plug-in hybrids provide utilise both electricity and fuel, increasing your fuel efficiency but reducing dependency on charging stations.

Approx. Charge time
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine 

25km on electric charge.
Around 2.5hrs (slow charger).
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 

50km on electric charge.
Around 6.5hrs (slow charger).

Second Hand Electric Vehicle Market

For those with a slightly tighter budget, the good news is that you can purchase a second hand electric vehicle, as ‘new’ vehicles are upgraded.

The Nissan Leaf is prolific in New Zealand, and a quick Google or Trade Me search will provide you with links to plenty of options.  Autotrader also has an electric vehicle section, with prices starting at around the $16,000 mark for a 2011 Nissan Leaf with 30,000km on the clock.

Ultimately what will help grow the availability of competitively priced second hand electric vehicles will be companies incorporating electric vehicles into their fleet.

Air New Zealand recently led the introduction of electric vehicles as part of their fleet, ordering BMW i3’s, Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrids, and Renault Kangoo electric vans in 2016. 

Mighty River Power has also announced plans to convert about 70 per cent of its own fleet to all-electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids, with a bias towards the former, and hopefully more businesses will follow suit.

Battery Performance

Batteries in electric vehicles will lose a small proportion of their capacity over time.  A car’s current battery capacity can be seen as a number of bars (like a fuel gauge) on the dashboard or in some cases via an app.

The battery pack is expected to retain 70% to 80% of its capacity after 10 years but its actual lifespan depends on several factors – better capacity can be retained by avoiding the car being left too long with a high or low level of charge, minimising exposure to hot temperatures (particularly over 30°C), and if regularly fast-charging (more than once a week), only charging the battery to 80%.  There are reports of electric vehicles traveling over 200,000km on the original battery with no problems.

Eventually the battery will need replacement. However unlike the battery in a mobile phone EV battery packs are made up of multiple individually controlled modules (sets of cells).  The capacity of the battery set will slowly reduce and eventually drop to an unacceptable driving range.  It can then be recycled or reused. For example Nissan has just announced its “xStorage’ product, reusing batteries from Leaf vehicles for home energy storage. 

A new battery, depending on its size, presently costs at least $5,000 to $10,000, but prices are falling. Also as battery technology improves, you may be able to buy a battery with more capacity than the car initially came with. You may also need to only replace individual dead cells, at a lower cost than a full replacement.