Kieran Oats' reliance on fossil fuel is virtually non-existent - the Whakatāne sun and his business EV make sure of that.
His fascination with electric vehicles (EVs) began a few years ago when he test drove a friend's. Soon he purchased a Nissan Leaf from Taupō's Drive EV Limited.
After last year's Covid-19 lockdown, the electrician made a decision to spend more time with family and venture out on his own.
Buying an EV for his new business, Totally Electric, was part of that lifestyle change.
Oats owns two of the almost 1400 electric vehicles in the Bay of Plenty and while they are not as popular here as in places like Auckland, the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority consumer monitor shows beliefs in the benefits and barriers to EV ownership were shifting.
Of the 35,192 electric vehicles nationwide, including hybrids, 3.9 per cent are in the Bay of Plenty. In the 2018 census, 6.6 per cent of New Zealand's population lived in the region.
Meanwhile, 41.5 per cent, or 14,622, of electric vehicles are in Auckland, home to a third of the population.
Of the 316 public chargers, 13 are in the Bay of Plenty.
The authority showed around 44 per cent of people were likely to consider an EV for their next vehicle purchase, a spokesperson said.
It was a slightly different story for those wanting to use an EV for commercial reasons.
About 74 per cent of EVs in the country are owned by individuals, while 22.24 per cent are registered to companies.
The July to September data from the authority's business monitor showed 32 per cent of organisations were likely to choose an EV as their next vehicle purchase, compared to 49 per cent for petrol and 37 per cent for diesel.
For Oats, it was a no-brainer.
Low overhead costs and the point of difference made it an obvious choice, while solar panels on the roof meant charging the family's second EV vehicle was "green".
However, he understood the transition was not for everyone when it came to commercial use.
His second-hand van does the job for him, but other electricians laugh at its size.
"It has the shortest range of anything, but it was also one of the cheapest to buy."
He bought the van from Auckland for $20,000.
Even though it had a short range - about 130km on a single charge around town - he would top up in town at the Fast Charger and fully charge it overnight at home.
"Just like your phone."
According to the authority's consumer monitor, the biggest perceived barrier to EVs was affordability while 54 per cent of people were uncertain about the battery.
Perceived benefits included they produce less air pollution and fewer greenhouse gases, as well as that they can be charged at home and are cheaper to run.
The business monitor showed the same perceived barriers and benefits with the addition of an EV reflecting positively on business.
"The upward trend in EV purchases is clear from the [Ministry of Transport] stats, though they're still a small portion of the fleet," the spokesperson said.
"Worldwide, EV sales rose 41 per cent in 2020, despite general car sales being down 16 per cent due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Eighteen of the world's top 20 vehicle manufacturers have stated plans to increase the range of EV models available, and increase their production."
The spokesperson said more often than not EVs worked out cheaper in the long run.
As part of a government incentive to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles, an extension to an exemption on Road User Charges for light electric vehicles was announced in July and extended to March 2024.
Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport Environment, emissions and adaptation manager Ewan Delany said while there was no research on whether the exemption impacted buying behaviour, the $800 in savings a year was an incentive.
"Other initiatives, such as the Clean Car Discount rebates for zero and low emissions vehicles, are having an impact, the discount has led to a more than tripling of the number of new EVs being sold every month since July this year."
He said while the discount made low-emission vehicles affordable for more New Zealanders, they still remained more expensive than the average vehicle.
"This price disparity is gradually reducing and we expect that in New Zealand towards the end of the decade purchase price parity will be achieved."
As for maintenance, he said as EVs had fewer moving parts, upkeep cost less.
The industry also developed training specific to electric vehicles, such as the New Zealand Certificate In Electric Vehicle Automotive Engineering. This was an 11-month, Level 5 course.
Another challenge for those looking at transitioning was vehicle range.
Delany said the Government was continuing to invest in its vehicle charging network, as well as to work with businesses for good access.
"Over 96 per cent of our highways have a fast-charging station every 75km, meaning electric vehicle drivers can travel the whole country."
Large-scale transition would result in 80 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions, he said.