The growing network of 600-plus electric vehicle chargers should give confidence to households and businesses thinking of purchasing EVs, says minister

A Japanese truck manufacturer has public funding to roll out five electric trucks and chargers on the streets of downtown Auckland, working with major transport companies towards the goal of a Zero Emissions Area.

Fuso’s trucks comprise one of 22 low-emission transport projects throughout New Zealand, that Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods announced this morning would receive public funding. She said the Climate Change Commission’s report, this month, had confirmed how crucial reducing transport emissions was to meeting New Zealand’s climate change goals.

“Demonstrating and proving the potential for electric and hydrogen heavy vehicles is important, as heavy freight has an outsized impact on transport emissions.”

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Fuso boasts that its eCanter trucks have zero emissions, cost $10 to recharge from 20 percent, and have a practical range of 100-120km. The DC fast charge capability restores the battery to 80 percent capacity in one hour. “That is an efficient lunch break!” the company says.

It comes as Auckland Transport works towards a zero-emissions area in the pedestrian-focused Queen St Valley, the area with the highest population density in the country, which regularly exceeds air quality limits. Measurements in some locations exceed national and global regulatory guidelines for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter including black carbon, the city’s transport agency says.

Last month, Newsroom reported that Auckland public transport operators were being told to not buy any more diesel buses or risk losing their council contracts, as Auckland Transport brings forward its plans to completely electrify its network by a whole decade.

Throughout New Zealand, 11 more public chargers  – many of them high capacity fast chargers with multiple charging ports – have been co-funded in the latest Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, taking the total to more than 600 public EV chargers, of which more than 450 are operational.

“The growing charging network should give New Zealand households and businesses thinking of purchasing EVs the confidence to do so, in the knowledge the infrastructure is increasingly available,” Woods said.

ChargeNet will install more 300kW chargers at Rotorua, Tauranga and Dunedin.

Hyundai will purchase and deploy five zero emission Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric trucks. And Fuso will purchase and fit out a 100 percent electric truck for extended test drives by potential customers. In a separate project, the company will carry out a one-year e-truck trial with five electric trucks and chargers with major transport companies in the proposed Auckland Transport Queen St Valley Zero Emissions Area.

Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust will deliver a subsidised e-bike storage project at its largest community housing development in Christchurch, receiving government co-funding for secure e-bike storage. The trust will pick up the tab for the actual e-bikes. The Trust will deliver an electric vehicle car share scheme with two Nissan Leafs, in a separate project at the same housing development, intended to encourage tenants to share vehicles.

The trust’s commercial manager Ed Leeson said the vehicles and the infrastructure that supported them would be based at the Trust’s Brougham Street community. The bikes and cars could be used by any Trust tenant but it was likely they would primarily be used by the people living in the new 90-home, three community development.

The e-bikes could be used for free; the cars’ maintenance, management and replacement costs would be met with a nominal fee.

Zilch will manage the cars and a booking portal will be used to make the most of them. An education campaign to encourage uptake will underpin the two-year pilot programme.

“We know good, reliable and low-cost transport is vital to help low income people get to services spread across our city,” Leeson said. “We also know we must do what we can to find ways to sustainably reduce our carbon footprint while making community life better.”

The car project’s booking platform will gather data to establish demand patterns, feedback and user engagement.

This will help the Trust consider how low carbon, shared transport might be applied elsewhere and even how it might affect new developments. “We’d love to know we can reduce the number of car parks we provide, with alternatives that let us replace asphalt with green spaces.”

The contestable fund, administered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, will contribute $3.7 million to the projects, and the 22 recipients will contribute a total of $9.4m.

“We need to enable people to get around, and the Ōtautahi Trust projects will demonstrate a community and people-first approach that shows you can reduce the size of the fleet, replace it with low- or zero-emissions options, and still have freedom of movement,” Woods said.

Since the contestable fund began, the authority has committed $29.4m in government funding to 180 projects, matched by $62m in applicant funding. Round 10 will open in March/April this year.

Newsroom Pro managing editor Jonathan Milne covers business, politics and the economy.

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