Electric Vehicle charging network expands in Tararua

Electric vehicle (EV) drivers should be able to recharge in Eketāhuna by Christmas, with a new 50 kWh fast charging station planned for the town centre.

Together with the two recently installed EV chargers in Pahiatua, the EV charger in Eketāhuna will fill a critical 80 km gap in the EV network along State Highway 2. With further actions and policies to reduce climate change anticipated, Council together with the local community, has been trying to get ahead of the game by factoring in EV charging infrastructure in urban centres.

Tararua District Council Mayor Tracey Collis says: “Our Council is committed to clean and clever energy. Part of this is providing EV drivers with a convenient and reliable EV charging network in our district. With the upcoming addition of the EV fast charger in Eketāhuna and the recently installed fast chargers in Pahiatua, our district’s towns are now well positioned for visits from regional EV travellers. They will be able to park in town for charging and having a look around, which will support local businesses.”

Installing two charging stations in Pahiatua was part of the wider town centre upgrade which was completed in August this year. Besides Pahiatua, the Tararua District currently has fast charging stations in Dannevirke and Woodville as well as two slow charge stations at Pūkaha Mount Bruce.

Government has a target of having 64,000 electric vehicles on the roads by end of 2021 and is setting progressively stronger measures to reduce climate change. Under the Clean Car Discount scheme, owners of EVs first registered from July 1 to December 31, 2021, could apply for rebates up to $8625. NZ’s Traffic Agency’s objective is to encourage the installation of a rapid charger every 75km along NZ's main State Highways so that even a low-range vehicle can travel across the country.

Peter Wimsett, Council’s Manager Strategy and Climate Change, explains the benefits of EVs “They cost more to purchase but are much cheaper to run. For example, the average cost of an 80km car trip on petrol is $17.60. With an EV fast charger it costs about $7.50. The charging time would be about 18 minutes on a fast charger. On a slow charger the charging time for 80km would be closer to an hour and a half but the costs lower at $3.25. In addition, emissions are reduced by about 80% versus a petrol and diesel equivalent. We hope that the increased availability of EV chargers will encourage residents and local businesses to move towards EVs, thereby reducing carbon emissions. The price, efficiency, and variety of car brands and types of EV vehicles are set to improve rapidly.”

The current fast charging stations in Tararua are part of the ChargeNet network, the largest EV network in New Zealand. ChargeNet alone has installed around 250 rapid charging stations across the country. According to www.plugshare.com there are now 500 odd charging spots in New Zealand.

The installation costs of the EV fast chargers in Pahiatua was $200,000 including underground EV ducting and the modifications of carparks and footpaths. About 40% of this was funded through a grant by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and a grant is also being made available for the Eketāhuna site.