South Canterbury electric car owners will be able to charge their cars in the same time it takes for a coffee break starting this week.
Two fast electric vehicle charging stations will be installed and officially opened on Wednesday, one in Waimate and one in Timaru.
They will be open just in time for the arrival of the Charge Net NZ Leading The Charge road trip, which is travelling from Cape Reinga to Bluff to highlight the benefits of electric vehicles. The road trip group will be showcasing electric cars for the public at Caroline Bay between 10 and 10.30am on Wednesday. After the showcase, they will travel on to the Timaru station on the corner of Victoria and North sts for its official opening, before moving on to Waimate for a noon start at the Queens St charging station.
Alpine Energy chief executive Andrew Tombs said the road trip itinerary meant the installation of the stations was pushed forward. "We decided to go on the corner because it was real estate Alpine already owned," Tombs said. It had been working with the Timaru District Council to install one at Caroline Bay, but ran out of time. The new stations used DC fast chargers, which could charge cars to 80 per cent within 15 minutes, unlike the AC chargers used by many private houses, which took a few hours to restore battery life, he said. While Tombs did not want to specify the cost of the stations, he said: "If you walk off the street to buy a DC charger, you would not get much change out of $50,000." Ad Feedback Charge Net NZ chief operating officer Nick Smith has been driving in the convoy. "If you build the necessary infrastructure, more people will buy electric cars. It gives them the confidence to buy one," he said.
Timaru resident Martin Kane owns an electric car and has already pre-ordered a Tesla model 3, which he was unlikely to see for another three years. Kane said he could currently charge his vehicle on his AC charger at home for around $3. He could travel up to 100 kilometres on the open road on one charge. "In a flat area around town, I could get around 120km," he said. With the addition of the two new stations, he would be able to fully charge his car within 25 minutes. The cost of using the new DC chargers would be 25 cents per minute and 25 cents per kilowatt hour.
Kane hoped more people would embrace electric vehicle technology in the area, but said there would need to be a station in Ashburton before there would be more travellers from Christchurch. "We're getting ourselves ready for future transport," Kane said. However he acknowledged New Zealand was towards the end of the production line for new models because it took longer to make right hand drive cars. Waimate District Mayor Craig Rowley said his district had pushed to be part of the electric vehicle movement. "We're always a frontrunner here in Waimate," he said. Rowley was considering purchasing an electric car for the council: "Maybe the council could get a vehicle for around town."
[Courtesy of TESS BRUNTON, Fairfax Media]