Touring electric cars spark interest

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Interest in fully electric cars is on the rise, according to a group of enthusiasts who visited Oamaru as part of a national tour last week.
Half-a-dozen fully electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids parked up at Steampunk HQ during the Better New Zealand Trust’s Leading the Charge road trip, an annual event held to inform the public about its activities to promote zero-carbon renewable energy technologies.
The road trip began at Cape Reinga on April 6 and finished in Bluff on April 22.
Some vehicles drove the length of the country, while others completed a section of the trip.
Auckland’s Sean Dick was part of a fleet that included Nissan and Mitsubishi vehicles, among others.
Mr Dick said interest in the cars had been high throughout the country.
“It’s been great _ we’ve had a lot of interest. We’re very satisfied with the number of people that have come to see us.”Common questions included how long did the battery last, how far could vehicle go on a single charge and how was the vehicle charged. Other questions related to the difference between fully electric cars and plug-in hybrid models.
The former is exactly as it says _ all electric, no petrol required _ while a plug-in hybrid has both an electric and a petrol motor.
Tony Johnston, of Mitsubishi Motors NZ, said the petrol engine acted as a “range extender” that only kicked in when absolutely necessary.
“It’s always trying to be an electric vehicle and run on electricity as much as it can. It’s that middle ground between petrol and electric.”A plug-in hybrid takes about five hours to charge, while a fully electric vehicle can take up to eight hours.
A plug-in hybrid can be plugged into a mains power supply but fully electric models require a different type of charger, similar to power outlets found in camping grounds. Oamaru does not have a charging station. However, Waimate and Timaru will have them installed in a matter of weeks.
According to the Better New Zealand Trust website, there were 1057 electric plug-in cars in New Zealand at the end of February, which reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 2431 tonnes.
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