Electric vehicles (along with autonomous cars) are dominating the headlines of what seems like every news outlet in New Zealand. Everybody appears to be gripped by the green fever, pulling out all the stops to put themselves at the forefront of sustainability.
The rising tide
We are already seeing a few big businesses in New Zealand making the switch to electric for at least some of their fleet. Both Air New Zealand and NZ Post are utilising electric vehicles in their fleets, with the latter intending to have the "largest fleet of road legal, fully electric vehicles in New Zealand", as described by Acting Chief Operating Officer Mark Stewart.
There are some pretty good reasons to switch to electric. Less damage on your fuel card, better for the environment, a number of tempting incentives from the government: you can bet a few fleet managers will be considering making the adjustment themselves. But changing to electric is a big move, and there are a few questions on whether New Zealand is truly ready to support electric vehicles.
Let's take a look at some of the issues electric fleets still need to overcome.
Going the distance
For now, at least, it looks like fossil fuels are still ruling the day.
Despite the government's push for more electric vehicles, New Zealand suffers from a shortage of public charging stations across the country. Considering that most entry-level electric cars can only go about 100km on a single charge (the Nissan Leaf being a perfect example of such a vehicle), this could be a serious concern for fleet managers who need drivers to travel larger distances, such as between Auckland and Hamilton.
Another issue is the relatively small number of electric vehicles currently available on the market. One survey from the Bay of Plenty Times found that in Tauranga at least, there was really only one option for an electric vehicle, and that was an imported Nissan Leaf. Drive Electric gives us a more significant range of eight different available vehicles, but this is still a relatively small choice for the fleet manager who may have very specific needs from their fleet.
While there are a number of models intended to come to New Zealand in the near future, such as the Tesla Model 3, for the time being it appears that the lack of infrastructure and restricted choice might be holding back the electric vehicle market. For now, at least, it looks like fossil fuels are still ruling the day.
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