First fast-charge station for electric vehicles to open in Whangarei

By Mike Dinsdale

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New Zealand's first fast-charge station for electric vehicles is to open in Whangarei today.

The station - operated by Northpower in Alexander St, is being officially opened by Minister for the Environment Amy Adams today.

For the foreseeable future the charger will be free to use, with the fast charger capable of providing 80 per cent charge capacity within 30 minutes. The standard charger takes closer to eight hours for a full charge.

And the Northpower Electronic Vehicle (EV) charge station is even powered by Northland water, courtesy of Northpower's Wairua Hydro Power Station at Titoki - with the Chademo standard-based fast charger using local power generation to charge EV batteries.

Two other SAE J1772 standard chargers are available and three more will be added later if required. Northpower also has three standard EV chargers at its head office, in Mt Pleasant Rd.

And the locally-owned electricity lines company today declared Whangarei as New Zealand's first government-backed ultra-fast broadband fibre city and plans to make the town New Zealand's EV capital.

With daily running costs 75 per cent cheaper than petrol and diesel vehicles, the move to EV's could prove an economic boost to Whangarei and surrounding townships, while also benefiting the environment.

Northpower CEO Mark Gatland has a wider vision for EVs, saying at around $2 a day for 50-100km of mileage, the running costs on EVs are considerably cheaper than $8 a day for traditional motoring with diesel and petrol vehicles.

"Apart from changing tyres every 40-odd thousand kilometres, there are very minimal servicing costs. People can simply drive them to work, head home and re-charge overnight on a standard three-point plug," Mr Gatland said.

Northpower has completed a study which proved its electricity network can comfortably handle tens of thousands of EV's charging overnight.

- Northern Advocate

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