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New Zealand is missing a chance to transform its economy by not speeding up the move to electric vehicles, according to the head of one of the country’s big electricity generators.

Mercury CEO Fraser Whineray says New Zealand has secure food, water and electricity supplies but not energy freedom because we still depend on imported fossil fuels.

“In order for us to transition to that, electric vehicles (EVs) are an imperative.”

Whineray says most people are still surprised when they discover that electricity costs 30c a litre compared to petrol, which is around $2.

“Everything in the country, whether it is a cup of coffee … has a transport component to it and if that is being done at 30c a litre instead of $2 that should produce a much more productive economy.”

Mercury along with Air New Zealand has spearheaded a programme to increase the number of companies switching their fleets to EVs.

Thirty companies have signed up to a pledge to convert 30 percent of their fleet to EVs in the next three years. Whineray says it is the biggest corporate investment in sustainability in New Zealand and will cost more than $70 million.

He says the country is well placed to move away from petrol to electric-powered cars.

“We have 1.7 million garages and carports where we can charge cars … we would need 7000 gigawatt hours of electricity if all of our 3 million cars became electric and we already have RMA consent for projects that would produce 12,000 gigawatt hours.

In this video interview with Rod Oram, Whineray explains where that power would come from and New Zealand’s unique position in renewable energy.

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