Electric vehicle charging network to be launched next year

22 December 2015

A network of public electric vehicle (EV) charging stations is targeted to be in place in and around Christchurch by the end of 2016.

Local electricity lines company, Orion, working with the Christchurch EV Forum, plans to install up to five fast chargers and a number of standard chargers throughout its network area between the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers next year. The other forum members include Christchurch City Council, Meridian and Contact Energy.

“While we expect EV drivers would usually take advantage of cheaper overnight charging at home, we’re going to put in place the infrastructure to help ensure they have the freedom to go where they want, when they want,” says Orion Chief Executive Rob Jamieson.

“Electric vehicle technology is improving all the time; prices continue to fall and given their benefits it’s hard to see a future where EVs don’t dominate our roads.  We want to encourage that future and be a leader in it.”

Fast chargers replenish EV batteries in just 15 to 30 minutes, while standard chargers take longer and so will be located in areas where EV owners are likely to park for an hour or two.

Mr Jamieson says the rollout of a network of charging stations will help drivers overcome what is known as ‘range anxiety’, as electric vehicles on the market today only have a range of just over 100km to 400km.

“It’s a chicken and egg scenario when it comes to EVs.  People are reluctant to buy EVs due to a perceived fear of not being able to get home if they drive further than they had planned, while EVs won’t improve in range and capability unless people buy them. So we are taking the lead on our future and adopting a ‘build it and they will come’ approach.

“EVs offer the potential for a cleaner New Zealand – especially with 80% of our electricity coming from renewable resources – and the potential to reduce our reliance on imported fuel.  We want to give people the confidence to buy EVs by providing them with places to charge their vehicles outside of their homes.

“People who test drove EVs at our recent EVolocity electric vehicle showcase were pleasantly surprised by the performance of the vehicles. As well as the environmental benefits and very low running costs, EVs have better acceleration than many combustion engine vehicles.”

The forum members are working together to determine the most appropriate locations for the chargers. More details on the rollout will be provided early next year.