Eastland Group commits to electric vehicles

Eastland Group commits to electric vehicles

GISBORNE-BASED Eastland Group is doing its bit to boost New Zealand’s electric vehicle usage by adding two more EVs to its fleet, and hosting a forum to encourage more local businesses to use electric vehicles.

As part of Eastland Group’s commitment to ensuring at least 75 percent of its non-commercial vehicle fleet is electric by 2019, Eastland Group business development general manager Gavin Murphy said the company had increased its EV fleet for the second time this year.

The latest additions, a plug-in BMW i3 hybrid and a fully-electric Nissan Leaf, brought the group’s complement of EVs to eight.

“We typically buy second-hand/ex demonstrator models. Depending on the model, year, specs, a Nissan Leaf resells for $12-$35,000, the BMW i3 from $40,000-$60,000.”

The group’s chief executive, Matt Todd, had driven the i3 almost to Whakatane without the need to use the petrol range extender.

A range of staff were enjoying using the vehicles.

“Trying an EV for the first time, and then seeing how it works, and using it to get to and from appointments, is an interesting process.”

Most of the vehicles are used as part of Eastland Group’s pool fleet, with staff booking and using as required.

The two latest additions would be part of Eastland Group’s New Energy display at the upcoming East Coast farming expo and Mr Murphy said that it was hoped a meeting of local businesses and taxi services next week could result in a car-share scheme with more businesses using electric vehicles.

That could also involve Eastland Group establishing a high-powered recharging station.

Mr Murphy said EVs were cheaper to run than vehicles powered by a regular combustion engine and cost significantly less to maintain.

In May 2016, the Government announced its Electric Vehicle Programme, a wide ranging package of measures to encourage the uptake of EVs in New Zealand.

The target is to double the fleet each year, reaching 64,000 EV registrations by the end of 2021 and Eastland Group would apply for funding towards establishing a local charging station network.

“We are preparing a proposal for the next round of funding and working through the best locations for charging stations,” Mr Murphy said.

“We’re looking at infrastructure and working with partners. Looking at the three main routes: to Napier, to Opotiki, around the Coast. There’s strong potential for EVs to roll out in this region, starting with the flat CBD. As EVs develop and their range extends, and charging stations are added, the region’s potential will open up.”

With 80 percent of New Zealand’s energy coming from renewable electricity, it made sense to use EVs in New Zealand, far more than in Australia, where only 15 percent of electricity came from renewables. That meant CO2 emissions were 80 percent lower than a petrol vehicle when used here.

Mr Murphy said Gisborne city’s small area and lack of hills made a perfect environment for electric vehicles.

“They’re great around town and the next generation of electric vehicles is going to have a range of 200km to 400km and will be much more versatile, with more possibilities for people living and working further out of town.”