Whangārei Heads resident Martin Hunt was taken aback by his back-of-the envelope calculations: after owning an electric vehicle for four years, and driving 100,000km in it, he estimated he had saved $15,000 to $18,000 - mainly by not having to buy petrol.
Thinking he might have made a mistake - after all, he had actually saved enough to go out and buy another 100 per cent electric Nissan Leaf import - Hunt emailed the man who was recently named New Zealand's EV champion, Joe Camuso, to ask if his figures stacked up.

Camuso, himself an electric car owner for several years, agreed that that amount was in line with what himself and other EV owners had been reporting. But he also chuckles because "it's not as if you put the money in a separate bank account".

This coming week, September 14-22, is international Drive Electric Week, and Whangārei, by virtue of its proximity to the international dateline, according to Camuso, will be the kickoff city. Last year, more than 300 cities worldwide took part.

"We will be hogging the spotlight and social media pages until the rest of the world wakes up. It will be a chance to showcase our progressive EV community here to the world."

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Northlanders interested in electric transport will have the chance during the week to talk to EV owners, test drive cars, and attend a workshop and panel discussion.

Camuso was quick to tap Hunt and his remarkable savings story for the week's activities.

"The bigger part of this equation is that EV owners are not only spending about $2 for every 100km using night-rate power, or $3.50 during the day, or $7.50 using a fast charger, but they are also reducing the amount of money - about $8 billion a year - flowing offshore to big, fat-cat, multinational oil companies."

Drive Electric Week - what's happening:
Saturday (Sept 14): Electric vehicles will be on display, and available for test drives, at Whangārei Growers Market, from 7-10am. This will be followed by a morning tea and a chance to chat with EV owners at Totara Cafe (which has just installed an EV charger) in Tikipunga from 10.15am.
Saturday (Sept 21): EVs on display again at Whangārei Growers' Market from 7am-10am followed by a workshop and open panel discussion at the Northland Regional Council chambers, 36 Water St, that will enable those "sitting on the fence" to ask EV owners questions.