Power trip cheap way to see country

By Mike Dinsdale

3 comments
Aucklander Steve West charging his electric Tesla P85+ at Whangarei Town Basin on his trip to Bluff. Mr West has travelled about 58,000km in the vehicle during the past 18 months at a cost of about $2900 in electricity, compared to the $12,000 it would have cost in petrol. Photo / John Stone
Aucklander Steve West charging his electric Tesla P85+ at Whangarei Town Basin on his trip to Bluff. Mr West has travelled about 58,000km in the vehicle during the past 18 months at a cost of about $2900 in electricity, compared to the $12,000 it would have cost in petrol. Photo / John Stone

There are 85 electric vehicles in Northland and this week many of them joined a convoy heading to Bluff on the 2nd annual Leading the Charge EV road trip.

A convoy of EVs set off from Cape Reinga on Wednesday, stopping in 39 towns and cities over the 2000km, 17-day trip, and yesterday they stopped in Whangarei, with many of the Northland EV's joining in.

The fleet was on show in Cameron St Mall and the Canopy Bridge, providing information and giving people test rides.

Northland EV advocate Joe Camuso, owner of New Zealand's first all-electric taxi, said the whole trip was being completed by three Teslas a BMWi3 and a Mitsubishi Outlander, and they will be joined by some of the 1200 other EVs in the country along the way. Mr Camuso said the aim of the trip was to show how EVs save money on fuel and operating costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and run on 100 per cent New Zealand-made electricity instead of imported oil, keeping money and jobs here.

"The 85 EVs in Northland have travelled a combined 1.7million kilometres in the past two years. If they had used petrol those trips would have cost around $220,000 in petrol. But for the EVs it cost about $70,000. That's a huge saving, but it's not just about the costs, it's also about wealth re-distribution," he said.

"If they had been petrol a lot of that $220,000 would have gone overseas in profits to the big oil companies. But the $70,000 all went to our local power companies, which are owned by us."

He said up to 85 per cent of New Zealand electricity is from renewable sources so people not only saved money, they helped the environment.

Northpower has a network of EV charging stations in Northland and Northpower network engineering manager Russell Watson, an EV owner himself, said the company operates six EVs and a hybrid vehicle.

But it wasn't just cars and vans at the gathering at the Canopy Bridge, there also was Whangarei man Reg Lawson on his ee-move-mee electric bicycle.

Whangarei's Reg Lawson on his ee-move-mee electric bicycle catches up with the convoy of EVs heading to Bluff. Photo / John Stone
Whangarei's Reg Lawson on his ee-move-mee electric bicycle catches up with the convoy of EVs heading to Bluff. Photo / John Stone

Mr Lawson said he saw electric bikes being used when he visited China and just had to have one when he returned. It has a small motor on the front wheel and battery pack above the rear wheel. It has 15 gears and he charges it up at home.

"It goes really well. I live on Western Hills Drive and it gets me up the hill to Whau Valley with no trouble at all," he said.

So how much does it cost him to power her up?

"I've got solar power at home so I charge her for free."

- Northern Advocate

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