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New Zealand Releases First National EV Charging Strategy

The Transport Minister, Michael Wood, launched the country’s first electric vehicle (EV) charging strategy, which includes plans to provide EV charging stations in almost every town in New Zealand. The strategy is titled Charging Our Future. According to Wood, the government’s vision is for Aotearoa New Zealand to have world-class EV charging infrastructure that is accessible, affordable, convenient, and reliable.

The strategy aims to offer journey charging hubs every 150-200 kilometres on main highways, a public charger for every 20-40 EVs in urban areas, and public charging at community facilities for all settlements with 2,000 or more people. Meeting the targets would see tens of thousands more EV chargers across the country, Wood said.

Emissions from the light vehicle fleet are the single largest source of transport emissions in New Zealand, partially due to having some of the most fuel-inefficient and emissions-intensive vehicles in the OECD. This is expensive and damaging to people’s health and the environment. “Switching to EVs would be like buying petrol for 40c/litre, which would make a big difference for household budgets,” he explained.

Last May, the government released Aotearoa New Zealand’s first emissions reduction plan. The plan explored how the country would meet the first emissions budget for 2022–25 and put it on track to meet future emissions budgets. As per the strategy, transport is one of New Zealand’s largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions and is responsible for 17% of national gross emissions and 39% of total domestic carbon dioxide emissions.

The Emissions Reduction Plan includes the action to rapidly adopt low-emissions vehicles including by improving EV-charging infrastructure across Aotearoa to ensure that citizens have adequate access to charging facilities. Although EVs are not a solution, they are a crucial part of a decarbonised transport system, complementing increased opportunities for adults and children to safely walk, cycle, and use high-quality public transport, the strategy wrote. The country needs an EV charging plan to provide certainty to all parties about the role government will play in supporting EV charging infrastructure.

These new targets will facilitate infrastructure to support different trips and journeys that EV drivers make as well as ensure that rural and provincial New Zealand locations are accessible for residents and visitors with EVs. Wood noted that the success of the government’s clean car policies means there are more than 69,000 EVs on roads, over 80% more than at the end of 2021. This strategy will ensure New Zealand can sustain the uptake of EVs as it is witnessing more people make the switch.

The Ministry will work with local government and industry across transport, energy, and other sectors to deliver on these initiatives. “We also want to make sure we’re working alongside the public. I hope everyone will take the opportunity to feed into the draft strategy and the discussion document,” Wood stated.

The country’s capital, Wellington, previously announced it aims to replace all fossil-fuel-powered passenger vehicles with electric alternatives by 2030. Last year, the Wellington City Council added 24 electric vehicles (EVs) to its fleet. As OpenGov Asia reported, by mid-August, there were 40 EVs for staff to use for daily operations.

A study by the New Zealand Transport Agency (Waka Kotahi) about Kiwi behaviour showed that on average, people don’t travel more than 20 to 50 kilometres a day. Introducing electric vehicles that are capable of a 250-300 kilometres range in one full charge will be the right match for most Council operations. As Wellington city is compact, there are many opportunities for people to change the way they travel throughout the city and have an impact on carbon emissions. More recently, the capital approved trialling a public e-bike share scheme, allowing residents and visitors to hire e-bikes to get around the city.

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