Crushing of green hopes explored

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Chelsea Sexton, electric vehicle advocate, will be in Whangarei next month.
Chelsea Sexton, electric vehicle advocate, will be in Whangarei next month.

The documentary Who Killed The Electric Car? will screen in Whangarei next month, and one of the film's key players - Californian Chelsea Sexton - will be there to talk about the future of electric vehicles (EVs).

It is 20 years since EVs - quiet, fast and producing zero tailpipe emissions - began appearing on Californian roads, and Ms Sexton, working for General Motors (GM) to promote the EV1, was in the thick of what many thought would be a revolution in clean transport.

The documentary at Northpower's headquarters at Mt Pleasant Rd, Raumanga, on July 10, marks 10 years since GM repossessed and crushed, in the Arizona desert, the last of its EV1s that had been leased to enthusiasts, including movie stars Tom Hanks and Mel Gibson and film director Francis Ford Coppola.

Who Killed The Electric Car? treats the mass-crushing of the EV1 as a crime and examines a list of suspects, including the car-making industry, Big Oil and politicians. The movie swept Ms Sexton to fame and she remains an ardent advocate of EVs.

She travelled through Northland in April as part of the Leading the Charge Road Trip, promoting the uptake of EVs in New Zealand, and chatted with locals during stops at Kaeo, Paihia and Kawakawa, then spent a whole day in Whangarei.

The movie will be screened at Northpower at 2pm, followed by a Q&A session involving Ms Sexton, but at midday there will be test rides in EVs and a Channel North documentary on EVs in Northland, commissioned by Northpower and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.

Northland EV advocate Joe Camuso said the documentary is an insight into how Corporate America snuffed a great idea but "in some respects that's the best thing that happened as we now have an electric car designed from scratch and that's the new bar".

Per capita, Northland has been leading the uptake of EVs in New Zealand, with the number in the region now estimated to be drawing towards a 100. Electricity lines company Northpower has been at the forefront, installing New Zealand's first fast charger in Whangarei's Alexander St in 2014 and has 10 EVs, including a van, in its fleet. Helping the drive have been the Northland Regional Council, which owns three EVs, and has a charging facility by the Forum North carpark, Rev-up (Regional EV Utility Project), and a group of EV enthusiasts. Nationally, Kiwis now own more than 1300 EVs, up from about 30 in 2013.

- For details and tickets, visit the website betternz.org.nz

- Northern Advocate

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