Electric vehicles have been in the spotlight in Whanganui this week and now it's the turn of Bulls to get electrified.
An Electrifying Conversations Roadshow, with 10 electric vehicles and 27 people including international and national electric vehicle experts, rolled into Whanganui on Thursday. They visited the ChargeNet NZ station at Pak'nSave supermarket and later talked with Whanganui District Council members, Whanganui and Partners board members and the public and offered rides and drives in the vehicles.
The roadshow will join the opening event for a new ChargeNet NZ charger in Bulls, across from the new Bulls Community Centre, at midday
The 50kW charger at 7 Criterion St can charge most EVs within 30 minutes.
"There has been a considerable amount of interest regarding the opening of the charger and what it will provide for EV owners," Rangitikei District mayor Andy Watson said.
"Bulls is the location where this needed to happen."
ChargeNet NZ chief executive Steve West said the company hoped to add more charging stations in Bulls after the new community centre officially opened.
"The Bulls charger is a milestone installation for ChargeNet, we have now achieved our goal of providing a network of rapid chargers every 75km along the entire length of SH1," West said.
ChargeNet NZ now has 174 rapid charging stations nationwide.
Paul Chaplow, of economic development agency Whanganui and Partners, said as well as the Whanganui charging station at Pak'nSave, there was a Tesla charging station near the i-Site that would be getting a converting plug and adapter for other EVs to use.
"I've had a look at our ChargeNet NZ network around our area and there's a proposed one under construction in Waverley and then another in Hawera, so that line through to New Plymouth, with 75km between charging stations, is nearly complete which is great," Chaplow said.
From a tourism perspective, Chaplow would love to see an EV route that goes up Whanganui River Rd to Ruapehu, along the Forgotten World Highway and back to Whanganui.
Two charging stations may not be enough to prevent queues if EV use in Whanganui increased but for now he thought Whanganui was adequately serviced, though he had seen more Nissan Leafs driving around town.
Roadshow participant Philippe Vangeel, secretary-general of AVERE - the European Association for Electromobility - said he had been "pleasantly surprised" by New Zealand's use of EVs.
"There are actually more than 1500 EVs on the road which is above average. Of course, it can be better but there is a lack of deliveries of EVs."
He said there were not enough original equipment manufacturers for electric cars worldwide.
"I really want to point out it's not a local problem, it's an international problem."
West said the roadshow embraced technologies from electric cars through to hydrogen and more.
The roadshow was a continuation of conversations and collaboration after the inaugural Electrifying Conversations Conference held in Auckland on November 1.
"Seeing we had all this expertise in one area - some who have travelled so far to be here -it would be a shame to come all the way to New Zealand just for one day so we have taken the opportunity to get on the road and show off some of New Zealand's tourist attractions," West said.