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EV selection set to take off

2017 Hyundai Ioniq

New electric vehicles (EVs) will hit the market at a rapid pace over the next two years, not-for-profit group Drive Electric says.

That is because the push towards electrifying the world’s vehicle fleet is gathering momentum, with many countries setting deadlines of between 2030 and 2040 to end the sale of new internal combustion engine cars.

Drive Electric board member Dean Sheed says original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have been pouring money into electric and autonomous vehicles in order to keep up with the deadlines.

“There’s some big paradigm shifts happening in the world. Everyone is investing serious levels of money in EVs and autonomous drive.

Dean Sheed, Drive Electric board member

“Because different brands have their own unique development pathways, you will get critical mass in late 2018 and throughout 2019. Then the number of models on offer starts to get really significant.”

However, converting the fleet will take time, Sheed, who is also Audi New Zealand general manager, says.

“2.3 per cent of the 100,000 new cars in 2017 were hybrids or EVs.

“We are on the way, which is great, but we need a bigger share of EVs coming into the country as new and used. “Then you’ll see consumer behaviour change.”

On a global scale, Sheed says the move to petrol vehicles may actually go up in the short term as diesel falls out of favour in places like Europe, because of the current focus on harmful emissions, like NOx.

“Moving from diesel to petrol will probably see CO2 increase. It’s going to get a lot of people concerned about CO2 in the shorter term until the move to EVs. “At some point internal combustion engines will come down as EVs take over and become the demand focus.

“Many countries in the world have CO2 targets to meet with taxation effects. EVs are the solution to get there.” Unlike many other countries, New Zealand is in an enviable position to adopt EVs, with 85 per cent renewable energy.

“New Zealand is one of the four or five countries globally in terms of cleanest producing electricity. “The world has to get off electricity generated by coal.” In the next five to ten years, the increasing percentage of EVs will become available in both plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) and battery electric (BEV) forms.

“Ultimately BEVs will take over and we will all be in fully electric vehicles, with increasing levels of autonomous drive.”

There could be more incentives put in place to get New Zealanders into EVs more quickly, Sheed says.

“If the Government wants to see more fleets adopt EVs, it needs to have some levers to pull to make them more attractive for businesses.” Ideas like lowering fringe benefit tax on EVs through Drive Electric’s Project Switch is one potential way to do that.

“The more adoption of EVs by big companies the better. After three years, fleet cars go back to the consumer as ex-lease vehicles.”

New Zealanders’ love of SUVs and utes is also a challenge that has to be met, Sheed says. While there are some electric SUVs on the way, the same can’t be said for utes.

“You need to have an electric offering in all vehicle segments.”

Getting the infrastructure in place is also important to sell the EV message, Sheed says. “Rapid chargers need to go sub 30 minutes and then sub 15 minutes for a full charge. We need massive chargers that can dump high volumes of current in quickly.

“It’s about having enough of them at the right capacity. Infrastructure needs to be built up at the same time as the fleet.”

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Trucks and buses going electric

Heavy vehicles are a huge part of the electric revolution, not-for-profit group Drive Electric says.

On the international stage, major companies such as Tesla and Daimler AG are racing to develop electrified heavy-duty trucks, while other vehicles like buses are also part of the mix.

Change is also on the horizon at home, with Drive Electric member Waste Management leading the way.

It is on the verge of completing a pilot programme, which will see five of its trucks switch from diesel to become environmentally-friendly electric vehicles, Waste Management Managing Director Tom Nickels says.

“Three of those trucks are in service in New Zealand. The other two are in Amsterdam with EMOSS – the company that converts our trucks – and are due back here in a couple of months.”

Tom Nickels, Waste Management Managing Director

“What we have seen so far gives us great confidence that this is the right track.”

The next step is to convert trucks from diesel to electric power here in New Zealand, with a specialist EV conversion workshop at Waste Management’s main Auckland site.

“We have ordered 20 kit sets from EMOSS. The first conversion has already begun,” Nickels says. “So far, we’ve outperformed what was expected.”

With more than 800 trucks in its fleet, the company has made sure to convert a variety of vehicles during the pilot, including a box and body truck which focuses on supermarket collection and side-load truck for wheelie bins as well as rear-load and skip bin trucks.

Going electric has also meant new challenges for drivers, engineers and mechanics.

“The drivers use different techniques. We’ve had great difficulty getting drivers out of the pilot trucks.

“When you’ve got an electric motor and batteries, diesel mechanics are not what you need there. You need electrical technicians and engineers.”

Nickels is encouraging other companies to think about investing in electric technology.

“It’s a tremendously exciting opportunity across the transport sector.

“I think all enlightened companies that care for the environment should definitely be looking at it. I know some of them are thinking about it.

Nickels strongly believes the costs associated with going electric will come down quite rapidly. For example, the trucks are expected to last longer between services, with less changing of brake pads.

“This is a long-term commitment that started with our light fleet – cars and vans.

“The great thing is we can get those off the showroom floor.”

Buses are also following suit

Ewan Morris, ABB New Zealand Managing Director

Fellow Drive Electric member ABB, which offers a variety of charging solutions for large vehicles like buses, also sees huge potential in heavy EVs.

ABB New Zealand Managing Director Ewan Morris says there is a large amount of interest in electrifying New Zealand’s bus fleet, however it is early days.

“There are some pilot/trial projects being run in order to gain experience. Some of the major cities have signalled a desire to adopt this technology.

“Buses are good candidates for electrification. Buses, and many aged buses in particular, use diesel fuel which contributes to air pollution. Electric buses emit no greenhouse gases which is better for the environment, and for people walking near and around the buses.”

Other benefits include a quieter experience for passengers and operators can experience lower running costs. The impact charging heavy vehicles will place on the electricity grid depends on whether they charge overnight or at various points throughout the day,
along with the number of electric buses on the road.

“It is important that the grid impact is considered up front as part of the
overall system design.

“Technologies such as Battery Energy Storage combined with advanced Power Management Controllers are able to help reduce the impact on the grid.”

Auckland Transport (AT) is another organisation investing in heavy EVs, with two electric buses set to run on the City Link route.

“We will use the vehicles to test the viability of electric buses in Auckland, looking at elements such as battery life, ability to cope with hills and passenger loading,” AT Manager of Bus Services Darek Koper says.

“This is a very exciting opportunity for Auckland to take a big step towards achieving the aim of a zero-emission fleet from 2025.”

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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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NZTA to roll out 41 EVs

The New Zealand Transport Agency is looking to add 41 electric vehicles, EVs to its current fleet and are seeking more information regarding the implementation of EV infrastructure.

In a request for information notice, the NZTA is ideally looking for a fleet charging solution that would “enable staff to confidently move to and from NZTA locations in fully electric vehicles.” The request also covers the need for information about providing, installing, operating and maintaining charging stations. 

The New Zealand Transport Agency’s decision to look at boosting its electric vehicle fleet and invest in charging infrastructure has been welcomed by Drive Electric.

Drive Electric Chairman, Mark Gilbert

Drive Electric, a not-for-profit group, which promotes the benefits of EV technology in New Zealand, congratulates NZTA on the move.

“NZTA’s proposal to add 41 EVs to its fleet in 2018 shows it is leading from the front in adopting technology that will eventually dominate the automotive sector in just a few years,” Drive Electric chairman Mark Gilbert says.

“With the Labour-New Zealand First government looking to the public sector to adopt EV technology as part of its coalition agreement, NZTA is getting on the wave early.”

Having the agency which is responsible for maintenance of New Zealand’s highways support EVs in this manner has the potential to drive up public interest, Gilbert says.

NZTA’s intention to invest in its own charging infrastructure to support the EV fleet is also a positive sign, Gilbert says.

“Looking into this type of investment shows the organisation is serious about using EVs in the long-term and wants to make it easy for staff to drive the vehicles. It is a signal we hope other government agencies will pick up on.”

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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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