E-scooter system may provide a path to getting more electric vehicles on our roads.

Within 10 years many Kiwis could be car-sharing in much the same way they do now with electric scooters and bikes.

Nick Robilliard, property and procurement manager of Meridian Energy says he sees a shift coming in vehicle ownership, a model he believes will change significantly in the next 10 years.

Rather than everybody treating their car as an extension of themselves he thinks electric vehicle (EV) sharing will take hold – and in the process accelerate the growth of New Zealand's EV fleet.

He says we've already started to do it on a micro-mobility level with shared electric scooters and bikes proliferating in city streets and he believes the next step lies in an uptake of the same model with electrified cars.

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His comments come as doubts are being raised about whether New Zealand can reach its goal of 64,000 EVs by 2021 (currently there are almost 12,000 EVs on our roads).

Robilliard says it is maybe time for Kiwis to look towards themselves as far as car ownership goes and believes car sharing is one way to help bring EVs to more commuters.

Although he accepts there will be challenges of proximity and location with car-sharing, the national mindset around the perception of ownership might need recalibrating.

His views also come as the number of e-scooters on Auckland streets is set to rise with an Auckland Council announcement that a third e-scooter operator has been given the go ahead to trial. Newcomer Flamingo will add an additional 175 scooters to city streets and join Lime (operating in Auckland since October 2018) and Wave which launched its first e-scooters in March.

Meanwhile Meridian has already converted more than 50 per cent of its passenger fleet to 100 per cent electric and is making strong inroads into converting utility vehicles too. The company has also joined the international EV100 initiative by pledging to operate a 100 per cent electric fleet by 2030.

Robilliard also believes the Government could do more. He says it is one of the biggest procurers of vehicles in New Zealand yet only has 04.9 per cent of its fleet of 250,000 cars, trucks and buses electrified.

"I'd look at how they procure the fleet now and they could re-aggregate that demand and have a single buyer or agency that could procure a shared EV fleet between departments and still have meaningful volume," he says.

Not only would this help the Government achieve its own targets, but as the fleets were upgraded every three years, the vehicles would be made available at a more affordable price on the second-hand market.

"That's probably the biggest influencer if we want to accelerate the pace of EVs."

Robilliard's comments have been echoed by Mark Gilbert, chairman of Drive Electric. He has called on the Government to more clearly signal its intentions as far as growing New Zealand's EV fleet goes although he has doubts the goal can be reached without additional political will.

"I'd get more electric vehicles coming to New Zealand, make them more available," he says. "And not just new ones, but used vehicles too."

He says there is a strong used EV market in the United Kingdom and believes we could tap into that making EVs more easily available to a wider percentage of the population. He would also like to talk to China: "They're producing mammoth amounts of EVs but they're all left-hand drive."

Gilbert supports the introduction of a "freebate" scheme which he says would encourage the use of EVs by taxing higher-cost or higher polluting vehicles and using the money to subsidise low-emission vehicles.

He says big gains can be made by moving more swiftly towards the uptake of EVs: "For a start you don't have to import so much crude oil, the savings are astronomical. We're sitting on an abundance of our own oil, it's called renewable energy."

Gilbert says although EV infrastructure "is now visible", corporates are more inclined to use EVs in their fleets and there's a larger variety of EVs on the market, New Zealand is still miles behind other countries.

With more than 30 years of experience in the automotive industry - including working in New Zealand and Asia for Volvo and BMW - Gilbert says he was turned on to EVs when he realised New Zealand could be more energy independent.

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