Northland's electric-car users are in for a boost with six new charging stations due to be installed between Kaikohe and Cape Reinga in the next six months.
Whangarei is already well-served with charging stations - and has the country's highest ownership rate of electric vehicles (EVs), according to Transport Ministry data - but the Far North has just one charging station in Kawakawa.
That's about to change thanks to $150,000 from ChargeNet NZ and a matching $150,000 grant from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.
The funding will pay for five medium-speed DC chargers at Kaikohe, Waipapa, Mangonui, Houhora and Waitiki Landing, 20km south of Cape Reinga. A high-speed charger is about to be installed in Kaitaia in a separate project.
EV advocate Craig Salmon, of Paihia, said the idea was to locate the charging stations about 50km apart to cater for more affordable types of electric vehicles, rather than top-end Teslas.
The new stations would make it possible to drive to Cape Reinga even in a low-range EV and have enough charge left for side trips.
Medium-speed chargers were being installed because they were a lot cheaper than high-speed versions but could still charge a Nissan Leaf in about half an hour. They would be installed within the next six months, he said.
The sites had been chosen by members of Rev-Up (Regional Electric Vehicle Utility Project), a group of Northland EV enthusiasts. The precise locations will be decided in the coming weeks.
The Northland Regional Council, Far North District Council and lines companies Top Energy and Northpower are also involved in the project. A second stage could see charging stations installed at Mangamuka, Rawene and Waipoua.
Mr Salmon expected the uptake of EVs would increase once the charging infrastructure was in place. It would also be helped by falling prices with second-hand Leafs now selling for about $10,000.
He said EVs saved an "enormous amount" of money - he charged his Leaf with solar power so it effectively ran on free fuel - and reduced the amount of pollution and carbon entering the atmosphere.
"So they're a win-win," he said.
Whangarei has three public chargers with one each in Dargaville, Kaiwaka and Kawakawa.
The Far North has only about 20 EVs so far, well behind Whangarei, which has about 90, but that does include Northland's first Tesla Model S, two of which are based in the Bay of Islands.
The Model S has a 100kWh battery pack, a range of 540km and can accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in 2.8 seconds. The P100D variant holds the record for fastest acceleration of any production vehicle, able to hit 100km/h in 2.36 seconds when driven in "ludicrous mode".