The number of Electric Vehicles (EVs) on Aotearoa’s roads has grown significantly since 2021, encouraged in part by Kiwis’ evolving attitudes to EVs, lower prices, increased model variety, and Government rebates contributing to growing market share. As of the end of July 2023, there were over 59,000 fully electric vehicles and a further 24,000 plug-in hybrids, accounting for around 1.8 percent of the country’s light vehicle fleet. It’s an encouraging start as we work towards a decarbonised transport sector, with the Government ambitiously aiming for 30 percent to be fully electric by 2035 to help meet Aotearoa’s emissions reductions targets.
Since its inception in 2010, Z Energy (Z) has acknowledged its role in New Zealand’s climate problem, and we’ve always had the philosophy of moving from being part of the problem to being part of the solution. As we continue to deliver the fuel Aotearoa needs today, we are committed to contributing to the decarbonisation of New Zealand’s transport network. There’s no doubt that a core component of this transition is a scaled domestic EV charging network that enables accessible, affordable, convenient, and reliable charging solutions to meet the needs of drivers now and into the future.
Yet right now, New Zealand has the worst ratio of public chargers to electric vehicles in the world. It’s a worrying statistic, given one of the known barriers to EV ownership is range anxiety - the fear that drivers might run out of charge on the road. Being able to charge up anywhere, anytime is vital if we want to succeed.
As well as creating exciting partnerships for smart home-charging solutions and working with businesses in fleet-transition, Z is committed to helping to ensure Kiwis can charge their EVs as they travel around the country. By the end of this year, we will have EV charging at 20 percent Z service stations, with many more in the works.
Ideally, we would have had more charging sites operational by now, but an unfit-for-purpose system has created significant barriers to the nationwide rollout. With 29 Electricity Distribution Businesses (EDBs) and multiple government agencies involved, there is a lack of consistency to the approval and connection process, timing, and price. As it stands, the industry is not set up to move at the scale or the pace that the transition is happening at.
Prioritising a more efficient and streamlined process would enable greater investment in infrastructure seeing more EV charging points come online at pace to the benefit of Kiwis. Currently, delays at every step of the process mean it’s taking around a year on average to get a network connection for an EV charging site. In our view, with a streamlined and consistent approach this could be achieved in under three months.
Z’s recent submission to the Ministry of Transport’s Charging Our Future: a draft long-term electric vehicle charging strategy for Aotearoa New Zealand, called for greater collaboration between Government and the private sector to address the significant barriers to installing the network. For businesses like Z to continue investing in and delivering private and public charging, the Government has a key role in ensuring that regulatory settings are fit-for-purpose and market failures are addressed. The Strategy presents an important opportunity to address where there are barriers to the network roll-out and collectively resolving them. However, it is important that we do not lose sight of short-term solutions to help meet the needs of our low carbon early adopters now while we develop longer-term pathways.
Despite the challenges, Z welcomes existing Government investment in public charging networks and looks forward to working closely with the sector as we transition towards a low carbon future. Z has always believed that charging an EV should be no more difficult than filling up a petrol-fuelled car, and we are excited to help our customers in the transition.
With EV chargers planned for around 40 different Z sites, Z aims to not only make the charging experience a pleasant one - with canopies for shelter and large bays into which drivers can safely charge - but also reduce anxiety for EV drivers. We want it to be as easy to find a charger as it is to find a petrol station, but this will only be achieved with collaborative, fit-for-purpose systems to take us well into the future.