Bay man sparked up over new car

By Kaysha Brownlie

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ELECTRIC: John Bridgeman is the proud new owner of one of the country's first Tesla S P90D electric cars. PHOTO/WARREN BUCKLAND
ELECTRIC: John Bridgeman is the proud new owner of one of the country's first Tesla S P90D electric cars. PHOTO/WARREN BUCKLAND

He's had it just hours, but John Bridgeman already knows his new car will exceed all of his expectations.

It is an electric car, the latest Tesla Model S P90D on the market, and it is in such high demand there are about 300,000 orders on backlog and won't be available until next year.

The Hastings Bridgeman Concrete director first had an eye for electric cars when a friend in Auckland bought one. There were only about 35 of these cars in the country.

It is sleek and shiny with flush door handles that pop out when a button on the key - a miniature black car just like the one that sits in his driveway - is pushed.

As he opens the door, wing mirrors which had been tucked away neatly automatically flipped out.

Two large skylights sit overhead the beige leather upholstery. A large computer-like screen shows energy consumption.

The battery lasts about 500 kilometres and takes eight hours to recharge, Mr Bridgeman said.

And when he put his foot down passengers are pushed back in their seat like an aeroplane take-off.

"The acceleration is pretty grunt," he said as it can go from zero to 100 in less than three seconds.

With no engine, the car has two boots, one in front and one in back but it was heavier than a normal car.

It was too soon to say what his favourite feature was.

"I haven't had it long enough yet to decide."

Mr Bridgeman said he had always liked cars, his first was a 1938 Morris 8, and his last before he made this latest purchase was a Mercedes.

In 2012 Hawke's Bay power firm Unison Networks bought one of only a handful of electric vehicles to test and research.

The Ministry of Transport's latest spreadsheet showed there are at least six electric vehicles in Hawke's Bay, with a further eight plug-in hybrids.

Napier MP and Labour energy spokesman Stuart Nash said while Mr Bridgeman's car was one of a kind, electric cars were the way of the future, "no doubt about that".

He said a good, critical mass of cars was needed and it was something the Government should support so the right infrastructure could be built.

Mr Nash said the future could hold options like plugging the car in to charge while out at the supermarket.

Turning to electric cars could help reduce New Zealand's carbon emission, he said, and it would also play into the country's clean and green brand.

Mr Bridgeman said petrol cost versus power cost had been tested and $1600 worth of petrol would give the same distance as $200 worth of electricity.

Although electric cars were expensive to outlay in the first place, companies were starting to design affordable models and they were cheaper to run.

Mr Bridgeman said the car had some tricks he had not yet learned, but he wouldn't turn back to petrol cars after his electric experience.

"It's very nice to drive."

The library quiet car will be his everyday runabout, but he confessed to plans of staying clear of busy carparking areas.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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