© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2020

New, cheaper electric cars 'close to perfect'

Maegan Thompson
electric cars
Electric cars are could cut our national emissions by up to 20%  Maegan Thompson

A Christchurch man who imported the first electric car into New Zealand believes every household should have one.

Paul O’Connor, a former car dealer, said most of the country’s energy was renewable and it would be "silly" not to use it in cars.

The Government has set a goal of having 64,000 electric cars on New Zealand roads by 2021 .

O'Connor said it was a cheaper option for vehicle owners. "It costs me $20 a month in electricity to charge my electric car," he said.

Electric car specialist, Kevin Foster, from Paul Kelly Motor Company, said the biggest thing holding buyers back was the distance the cars could go.

For security, buyers could get full road side vehicle rescue insurance which allowed their vehicle to be transported to a charge station.

"They are getting close to being the perfect car, but some things need to be improved on," he said.

Paul O'Connor said the 2017 Nissan Leaf had a battery life of 300km, meaning the car could be driven from Christchurch to Oamaru on one full charge.

He said next year's model would have longer battery life of 450km, extending that travel distance beyond Dunedin.

"They are just getting better and better, with longer lasting battery life."

He said most electric cars took eight hours to fully charge on a household plug.

New fast charge stations installed by the Christchurch City Council could reduce this time to 30 minutes.

There were currently 50 charging stations in New Zealand, and 105 would be open by the end of next year.

O'Connor said owners should take the time to plan their trips out and figure out where charging stations were located.

"Think of them like a regular car, if you run out of fuel you stop and fill up. It is the same for an electric car, you stop and charge it," he said.

O'Connor said if people wanted to test out electric cars, they could buy one electric and have one normal vehicle, or even have a hybrid car with an electric and fuel operated motor.