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Top tips for safe EV charging

Electric vehicle (EV) advocacy group Drive Electric is encouraging potential EV owners to find out if their properties are suitable for home-charging.

Drive Electric board member Eric Pellicer says charging at home is the easiest way to power up an EV.

“The good news is many homes should allow EV charging. But often a standard electrical socket on its own isn’t safe and specialist electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) is needed,” says Pellicer. 

“Electricians are also going through an educational process since the advent of EVs, with Master Electricians running a series of workshops to help educate their members about likely changes to industry guidelines.”

Pellicer is also encouraged that some EV dealers offer home assessments for customers. “This kind of service makes sure customers have the information they need when purchasing an EV.”

Drive Electric charging expert Nigel Broomhall recommends EVSE which is Worksafe compliant because they have a number of built-in safety features.

“Quality chargers are rated for use in heavy rain, ice, snow and excess heat, and will not put you at risk of electrocution,” he says. Some cheap products warn you not to charge in the rain – this is not a good sign.“Professionally installed EVSE also includes the right residual current device (RCD) protections, and a master switch so the charger can be turned off if you have any issues.”

The key to picking the right charger is finding out the size of the on-board AC
charger on the vehicle, Broomhall says.

Broomhall, who is also managing director of EVSE supplier Chargemaster, says there are other tips EV owners need to be aware of when charging at home.

These include never using extension cords with any EVSE equipment because they aren’t designed to handle the large amounts of electricity required to fill up an EV.

“They can melt, catch fire or even electrocute you. Also, be careful with adaptors. Unless the adaptor has been approved by the charger manufacturer then it is not Worksafe compliant.”

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Coromandel’s new scenic tour

The Coromandel EV Scenic Touring Route is in full swing.

The chargers have been installed due to the collaboration of Thames-Coromandel District Council, Charge Net NZ, Powerco, and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.

Powerco Chief Executive Nigel Barbour says, with the Coromandel being a popular holiday destination for both New Zealanders and overseas visitors, the loop will provide an important network.

Barbour states, “EVs are undoubtedly the future of domestic transport in New Zealand, they are cheaper, cleaner and quieter to run.”

“We hope the loop will give locals and visitors alike the confidence to travel around the region by EV, helping safeguard the environment for generations to come.”

The chargers give up to 80 per cent charge in 10 to 25 minutes and are able to be accessed via an RFID card, which drivers tap against the charging unit to activate, or via a smartphone app.

To sign up to the system, go to the Charge Net NZ website.

Powerco now has 10 public-use fast-charge EV stations connected to its network, in conjunction with ChargeNet NZ. 

EV fast-charger station locations:
Thames: Library carpark, 503 Mackay St
Tairua: 6 Tokoroa Rd
Whitianga: 2 Lee St
Coromandel Town: 44 Woollams Ave
Whangamata: Corner of Hetherington Rd and Port Rd, by the police station. 

Click here to find out more.

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New Electric Charging Partnership

ChargeNet New Zealand and Aurora Energy are partnering together to extend a charging network for electric vehicles in Dunedin, Central Otago and Queenstown lakes.

Aurora Energy is New Zealand’s seventh largest electricity network by customer connections, supplying electricity to more than 88,000 homes, farms and businesses in Dunedin, Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes.

ChargeNet NZ is the only organisation installing a nationwide network of rapid charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. It is also the largest privately owned and operated DC fast charger network in the Southern Hemisphere. The partnership will mean faster growth in the Southern region.

“The Otago region is one of the most active regions in the country in terms of embracing electric vehicles, and we are keen to support electric vehicle owners through this partnership with Aurora Energy,” said Nick Smith, Chief Operating Officer of ChargeNet NZ.

The agreement between the two organisations means an upgrade to the existing charger in Filleul St, Dunedin, to a Tritium charger supplied by ChargeNet. Other sites around the Dunedin CBD are also being considered for new installations.

“Extending the Dunedin and surrounding offerings is an important step in bolstering our ever-growing nationwide network of fast chargers and will be a game changer for both local and visiting electric vehicle owners.”

“The sites will complement the existing infrastructure in the Aurora Energy network, including Wanaka and Alexandra, and other installations underway in Queenstown and Roxburgh.”

“With most electric vehicles taking between six to eight hours to charge via a domestic power point, one of the challenges has been the ability to charge them when away from home, but the fast charge network which we are putting in place will allow electric vehicle owners to charge a vehicle in less than 25 minutes,” he says.

Aurora Energy is also delighted in the partnership as it will allow vehicle owners in Dunedin and wider Otago region greater confidence to make the move to driving electric said Grady Cameron, Chief Executive of Aurora Energy.

“We expect the new partnership will support further electric vehicle uptake across our network area and encourage even more people to make the switch to electric vehicles.

“Since Aurora Energy installed the South Island’s first public fast charging station in February 2016, the number of electric vehicles in Otago has increased from 50 to 225. Nationwide, the growth in electric vehicles has been exponential with 5,400 now registered in New Zealand, up from just 500 three years ago.

“Electric vehicles are an increasingly attractive option for New Zealand drivers and are cheaper, cleaner and quieter to run than traditional petrol and diesel-fuelled vehicles,” added Mr Cameron.

There are 57 chargers connected to ChargeNet’s network nationwide, at 30 November 2017 and they aim to have over 105 stations by the end of 2018.

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Charger technology to increase in NZ

In support of the New Zealand government’s plans to transform NZ from fossil-fuel dependent to locally-generated renewable electricity, Chargemaster has partnered with Dutch-based company Heliox and Austrian-based Keba to enable heavy-vehicle charging.

Heliox is an established European market leader, with more than 85 per cent of the total electric bus charging market. Keba is a proven AC charging solution for light vehicles, with more than 35,000 chargers sold globally.

While NZ is showing leadership in our region with the recent announcement by Tranzit Coachlines of the new electric buses to be rolled out in Wellington mid 2018, the technology is proven in Europe with more than 1,300 electric buses delivered or on order in 25 European cities .

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. In China in 2015 there were more than 170,000 electric buses in operation. In Shenzhen City alone there were 4,887 purely electric buses in operation. By the end of 2017, all of the city’s buses will be fully electrified, in accordance with municipal government requirements, reaching a total of 16,493 E-buses.

Asia-Pacific is the electric bus manufacturing leader. While the European market is one of the leading regions for electric bus research and development (R&D) – including vehicle technology – the Asia-pacific region is home to some of the biggest producers of both buses and batteries.

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Gisborne to get its first EV charger

Gisborne is about to get its very first EV charging station. The station, supplied by Eastland Group, will be located on Gladstone Road, the city’s main street.

The charger is expected to be installed by the end of July.

“We’re excited about this next step in opening up the region to electric vehicles,” said Eastland Group business development general manager Gavin Murphy.

Murphy also said charging will be free until the end of 2017.

“People may wonder why we’re doing this now, when there are still only a few EVs and hybrids in the region,” he said.

“EVs are cheap for owners to run and, because they operate on 80% renewable energy in this country, they help reduce carbon emissions.”

“The positive economic, environmental and tourism benefits are potentially huge.”

EV registrations have hit a total of 3,576 as of May, up 156 per cent compared to May 2016. At its current rate, however, growth is below the target of 64,000 EVs on New Zealand roads by 2021.

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Charging stations increase

New research from Drive Electric shows the development of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure has reached a pivotal point in New Zealand.

“Many councils are developing charging stations in their areas for the benefit of the community,” Eric Pellicer, who is the commercial manager at Powerco and drive electric board member says.

“For example Wellington City Council has announced plans to convert up to 100 car parking spaces for the exclusive use of car-sharing and electric vehicles.”

The research is published in the organisation’s whitepaper, Charging Ahead: New Zealand’s EV Charging Infrastructure states and was sponsored by ChargeNet and ABB. It includes research put together from round table discussions held by Drive Electric’s board and members.

ABB national sales manager Kumail Rashid, who contributed to the white paper, notes it is important to tackle some of the challenges on the horizon. Rashid says New Zealand can meet those challenges head on by learning from overseas countries and adapting those situations to suit our own conditions.

“We’ve learnt from different countries’ experiences that it’s not just about getting more chargers and more sites, but also more chargers per site,” says Rashid.

“It is about future proofing, because you don’t want to have to be waiting 15 minutes for someone else to charge.”

Making sure different types of EVs can use the same charger is another important issue that has to be addressed, he says.

Pellicer hopes the white paper will have an influence in several different areas.

“We hope it will get some discussion going amongst those interested in the topic, but it will also be used to influence those who make policy decisions.”

The organisation will release more white papers about issues involving EVs in the coming months, Pellicer says.

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First solar EV charger on NZ roads.

The first on-road solar-powered EV charger in New Zealand has opened to the public in Tauranga. The charging station is a community initiative in partnership with the Tauranga City Council, Powerco, Trustpower and other sponsors.

The charging station, which costs $130,000, is located at the south end of The Strand in central Tauranga. It draws power from 18 panels and contains two allocated car parks with two hours of free parking provided by the Tauranga City Council. Trustpower will supply free power for the first year.

“The Strand was selected as a high-profile location in the heart of the Tauranga CBD where we could prioritize support for EVs and demonstrate the use of solar technology,” Mayor Greg Brownless said in a press statement.

When the sun isn’t shining, the grid will provide back-up power to the solar station, and excess solar power will be fed back into the grid. The charger also features a display unit, which will show users the percentage of energy generated from the sun.

Powerco CEO Andrew McLeod said the station was designed to encourage out-of-towners to visit the Tauranga CBD and entice local drivers to consider the validity of EVs.

“While on the rise, the number of electric vehicles in the Bay of Plenty is currently low, so initial demand is also expected to be low,” he said.

Kristy Hoare, Director of My Solar Quotes, said the opportunity to be a New-Zealand first motivated the initiative. “All of the project partners, big and small, envisioned combining solar power and EV charging into one station, within the same location,” she said.

A private solar-powered EV charging station was installed on private land at the Wellington Sustainability Trust last September.

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