Corporate travellers jetting into New Zealand's main cities are being offered free electric cars to quietly travel between business meetings in an initiative aimed at "normalising" the cutting-edge technology and testing the public's desire to go electric.
Regular business flyers going to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch for day-trips can now book a free Volkswagen e-Golf for their day's travel.
The new, stylish car looks exactly like a regular Volkswagen Golf, with the only difference being that it runs silently on battery power.
Europcar and Volkswagen New Zealand have teamed up with the airports at the three main cities for the Electric Day Pass (EDP) programme, launched today at Christchurch International Airport.
The keys are collected at the Europcar desk and the cars are picked up from, and dropped back to, prime parking spots.
Corporates, including Icebreaker and AMP have already signed up to the scheme.
Those behind the 12-month programme say it is designed to show "leadership around the future of motoring", while helping corporates get involved in a sustainability exercise and reduce carbon footprints, and also "normalising" the use of electric vehicles during a regular business day.
Europcar New Zealand general manager Stephen Jones says the scheme will give them a chance to get feedback and garner public perception on the technology with a view to introduce e-cars to their fleet in the future.
"People are increasingly aware of their carbon footprint and are taking a proactive approach to reducing it," he said.
"This is a natural step for us as we evolve with the market and develop green-friendly motoring solutions."
The e-Golf was built alongside its petrol and diesel siblings and operates like any other Golf with a "real driving range" of 150km - increasing to 230km this year.
It uses a 134hp 100 kWh electric motor powered by a 35.8 kWh lithium-ion battery.
There are now more than 60 charging stations around New Zealand, which is becoming a world leader in the electric car market space, says Volkswagen New Zealand's Scott Kelsey.
"The cool thing about our e-Golf is that it is, by all accounts, just like a normal Golf to operate - it just has a power socket instead of a fuel flap," Kelsey said.
Christchurch International Airport's Rhys Boswell said the scheme fits with its target of cutting carbon emissions by at least 20 per cent by 2025.
It has been trialling New Zealand's first fully autonomous electric vehicle, a driverless shuttle designed to ferry 15 passengers.
"We hope to eventually see autonomous vehicles operating in and around the airport," says Christchurch Airport general manager of corporate affairs Michael Singleton.
• Organisations that who would like to be considered for the programme are encouraged to register at http://electricdaypass.co.nz