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BMW’s fully electric 40 ton truck was introduced to European roads in 2015; it ferries car parts eight times a day between BMW’s manufacturing plant in Munich and logistics company SCHERM’s warehouses – Photo courtesy of BMW

Government pledges millions for new electric vehicles

More electric vehicles (EVs) will be hitting New Zealand’s highways, bus lanes and streets with funding announced by Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods in mid-January.

Dr Woods has announced $3.74 million for 20 projects under the third round of the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, administered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA). The projects will see the government funding matched or bettered by businesses.

“These exciting projects include a 58 tonne fully electric truck to be used by Coda in Hamilton to shuttle Fonterra’s dairy goods to the railway,” Dr Woods says. “Projects like this are vital to show others in the heavy logistics and transport industry that electric trucks are not only viable, but have very low running costs.”

Dr Woods says $1.7 million of the funding will help fill gaps in the country’s charging infrastructure. Funding is also going towards tourism opportunities such as electric campervans.

“The projects we are funding show there’s an EV for almost every job or use in New Zealand, be it delivering fruit and veg or taking a holiday.”

Also announced is funding for MITO to develop a qualifications framework for mechanics working on EVs. Currently, there is no NZQA-registered qualification or national standard for this work. Having qualified EV technicians will help improve confidence that EVs can be correctly serviced, maintained and repaired in New Zealand.

Shop while you charge your vehicle

Another of the recipients of government funding is Foodstuffs New Zealand, which secured over $820,000 to develop fast-charging infrastructure the length and breadth of New Zealand, answering a growing call from its customers who are keen to reduce their environmental impact while shopping.

Steve Anderson, managing director, Foodstuffs New Zealand, says, “Our business has made some astounding progress on a number of environmental issues to reduce waste, plastic and energy consumption. We were delighted to install the first charging station in Christchurch in 2017 – and this project shows just how committed we are to helping New Zealanders reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.

“Our winning bid is a partnership between ChargeNet NZ, Foodstuffs New Zealand and the two cooperatives, Foodstuffs North Island and Foodstuffs South Island. Our owner-operators fully support this initiative. Their customers can charge their EVs while they shop which is convenient, time-saving and planet-friendly.”

The EV chargers will be rolled out over the coming months at a number of New World, Four Square and PAK’nSAVE supermarkets.

“As EVs become more mainstream in coming years, having chargers located at supermarkets will be part of everyday life,” says ChargeNet NZ chief executive Steve West. “ChargeNet NZ has opened a number of fast-charge stations in partnership with various electricity suppliers, site owners and BMW. A fast charger typically charges an EV in around 20 to 30 minutes.”

EV owners need to open an account at charge.net.nz to be able to use a fast-charge station.

Growing demand for EVs

New Zealand’s most comprehensive EV event, EVworld NZ, premiered last September, with over 2600 visitors and 160 EVs in one place. The event returns in August this year and will move to the ASB Showgrounds, a bigger venue that reflects industry demand for an enhanced EV showcase, says Dominic Duncan, general manager of sponsorship at event organiser Conferenz.

“New Zealand superseded its target for 2017 by almost 2000 EV registrations, showing a growing demand for sustainable transport, particularly with the introduction of the Auckland petrol tax,” he says. “But this growing demand is not just an Auckland phenomenon. The growth of the South Island market has enabled us to develop a new event, EVworld South, with support from key stakeholders, including Christchurch City Council.”

EVworld South will follow a similar format to EVworld NZ, with specialised trade and public days, supplemented by free seminars to investigate the future of sustainable and carbonless cities.

In Auckland, EVworld NZ will work with industry experts to develop an industry conference, and the event will see the return of the well-regarded EVworld NZ Champions Awards.

“We’re seeing a huge increase of interest from exhibitors,” Mr Duncan says. “The ASB Showgrounds will give the show an enhanced experience with a greater opportunity for interactive exhibitions, as well as increased opportunity for ride-drive experiences outside the venue.”

The 2018 events will also reflect an increased focus on electric bikes as well as representation from most of the major EV manufacturers. EVworld NZ will take place on 10–11 August at the ASB Showgrounds and EVworld South on 23–24 November at the Airforce Museum, Christchurch.

How to get funding

The Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund was established by the government to encourage innovation and investment to accelerate the uptake of electric and other low-emission vehicles in New Zealand.

The fund is one of a range of initiatives in the government’s EVs programme, which has a target of doubling the numbers of EVs every year to reach 64,000 by the end of 2021.

The fund offers up to 50% funding towards projects. Applicants must match or exceed the amounts granted. Projects are approved conditionally until contracts are prepared and signed.

Round four applications open soon – it is anticipated that applications will open in late February and close around six weeks later.

For more information about the fund, visit www.eeca.govt.nz/funding-and-support/electric-vehicles-programme/ and for information about EVworld NZ and EVworld South, visit www.evworld.nz

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