Electric vehicles get boost with new facility
As if on cue, Kawakawa's steam engine Gabriel puffed past, providing a fitting backdrop to the opening ceremony of the town's fast-charger for electric vehicles (EVs) on Sunday.
The juxtaposition of old and new technology wasn't lost on Paihia man Craig Salmon from Rev-up, one of the driving forces behind the installation of the Far North's first fast-charger for electric vehicles.
"It's called progress," he told the gathering of about 100 people, thanking ChargeNet NZ which installed the charger, and the Far North District Council for their roles in extending Northland's electric highway.
Before cutting the ribbon, Mayor John Carter described the fast-charger as one of the most exciting things to happen in the Far North for a long time.
"This is the future, and the fact that you are allowing Kawakawa and the Far North to be part of it is amazing," he said.
"As we move forward as a nation, and as the world, electric transport is going to become the norm.
"It will solve a lot of problems that we are facing in the world," he said.
"We are fully grateful for the fact you haven't forgotten Northland, and the Far North in particular."
ChargeNet has backed Northland as the place to begin a national saturation of fast-chargers because of the region's rapid uptake of EVs.
It believes the region has the highest per capita rate of EV ownership in a country which has just passed the 1000-mark for plug-in vehicles.
Those attending were able to have rides in some of the 18 EVs, mainly Nissan Leafs, at the event, with some lucky ones including Mr Carter, getting a chance to experience the super-quick, upmarket Tesla.
"We did three donuts in Moerewa," he said.
The Kawakawa fast-charger opens up the Far North to EVs, adding to those already installed in Kaiwaka, Dargaville and Whangarei
Another ChargeNet has just been commissioned in Tikipunga. The wider network extends south to Albany, Auckland and Hamilton.
"This station is the continuation of a robust electric vehicle loop that will give entry-level EVs more access to the Winterless North," ChargeNet's Dee West said.
"Kawakawa is the latest town to host a fast-charging station that can top up an electric vehicle in minutes, and help keep New Zealand charging forward with this exciting new transport technology," she said
Northland was "punching well above its weight" in the EV stakes, she added.
Meanwhile Mr Salmon credited the district council with showing real leadership by supporting the transition away from fossil fuels to a more sustainable, cheaper, home-grown option for powering transport in the Far North.
"Through the 'Our Voices, Our Vision' project, people of the North clearly said they wanted a cleaner, more sustainable future. All credit to our elected representatives for hearing that call," he said.
Fifty per cent of people said they wouldn't consider an electric car until widespread fast-charging infrastructure was in place, he added, and Rev-up was calling on the FNDC to commit to a network of so people would have the confidence to go electric for their next car.
An average charge costs between $5 and $10.