• Green Cabs

Nevermind the green stuff, what about the range?

Originally published on 3 Aug 2017.

Can you drive an electric vehicle with a range of 90kms, from Auckland to Wellington?

The answer is emphatically, yes. One of our technical advisers recounts his road-trip experiences on a recent trip from Auckland Airport to Lower Hutt.

I plotted my course on a good old fashioned map and used the Plugshare app on my cellphone to find each charger.

A 24 kW Leaf or e-NV200 should have an open road range of at least 90 kms. As would be suggested with any car purchase (whether it's an EV or not), you should test your vehicle first - don't rely on instruments!

Before setting out on any decently-sized journey, you should make sure you plot your course to make the most efficient use of the battery (and to make sure you've got access to charging stations along the way - of which there are many!)

My route and the charging time (and costs) at each stop is listed below.   Note : the free charges below are fast chargers that are free to use, and to park at for a while. This is generally about a year, and then some, but not all, will charge "normal rates". This is usually 25 cents a kilowatt and 25c minute charge time, but it will vary from charger to charger and company to company.

If you have friends along the route, you could  trickle charge at their place overnight, which would take between 6 - 10 hours, otherwise a fast charger would get you to around 80% charge in approx 20 - 35 minutes.

I set out from Auckland Airport with a full charge.

The first stop was Te Kauwhata (pictured), where I needed 11.48kWh to charge - this was at a free charger.

The next stop was 40kms away at Te Rapa in Hamilton, where I topped up 5.4kWh for free (another free charger).

34kms later, I topped up at Cambridge. This time at a paid charger - topping up 5.4kWh at a cost of $6.45.

Next stop - Rotorua (87kms on from Cambridge)! Another paid charge - juicing up 16.4kWh for a total of $6.55.

84kms later and we're charging at the great lake (Taupo) - this time needing 25.8kWh at a free charger.

50kms on from Taupo and Turangi welcomed us with open arms - charging up 7.8kWh at a paid charger for a total of $8.70.

64kms on from the almighty Turangi and we landed in Waiouru - topping up 14.4kWh for a total of $10.75

Another paid charge 50kms later in Mangaweka - this time needing 6.9kWh for a total of $6.24

Landed in the almighty Manawatu - Palmerston North (83kms from Mangaweka) and we juiced up another 12.3kWh for a paid charge total of $8.40

70kms down the road from Palmy and we landed in Otaki - a paid charge of 11.5kWh for $7.74

And lastly, we landed at our final destination, 68kms, in Lower Hutt. We had a final topup of 14.5kWh for a cost of $11.00. 

So, in summary: 

  1. Auckland Airport:      Fully charged

  2. Te Kauwhata - 65 kms:    11.48 kW, free

  3. Hamilton (Te Rapa) - 40 kms:   5.4 kWh, free

  4. Cambridge - 34 kms:        5.4 kWh, $6.45

  5. Rotorua - 87 kms:      16.4 kWh, $6.55

  6. Taupo - 84 kms:          25.8 kWh, free

  7. Turangi - 50 kms:       7.8 kWh, $8.70

  8. Waiouru - 64 kms:         14.4 kWh, $10.75

  9. Mangaweka - 50 kms:     6.9 kWh, $6.24

  10. Palmerston North - 83 kms:     12.3 kWh, $8.40

  11. Otaki - 70 kms:       11.5 kWh, $7.74

  12. Lower Hutt - 68 kms:       14.5kWh, $11.00

We travelled a total of 695 kms, with a “fuel” cost $65.83. Not bad! There are a few points to ponder if you're considering doing your own EV Auckland-Wellington trip, including: * Your mileages and costs will vary! * I stayed on State Highway One for most of the trip. (July 2017). * After Cambridge, I drove to Taupo via Rotorua, as I didn't want to exceed 90 kms between charges. * After Mangaweka, I used highway 54 to cut across to Palmerston North. Check that this road is open before doing this!

If you have any questions or queries about this trip, charging, our route or any part of this blog, use the contact us button and let us know!

EDIT - ADDITION: Some people have asked for more detail on this trip. You should do your own tests on your EV to know what its actual range is. I allowed two days to drive down, as I hadn't tested the range of this Leaf, and it had only just arrived from the UK. So that is why I based each stage of my trip on a range of only 90 kms. On the voyage to NZ, cars sit in a container for two months and the auxilary (standard 12 volt) battery can go flat. When this happens the BMS (battery management system) loses contact with the main battery pack and things can go out of kilter. (More of this in a later article).

I left Auckland Airport at 11:30 and drove in stages down to Taupo, finishing charging at 6.45pm. Next day I left Taupo at 08:30 and arrived at home in Lower Hutt at 4.45pm.

Each charge stop takes a total of 30 - 45 mins depending on how long you need to charge. Normally you charge just to 80% as it takes approx. another 15 mins to charge to 100%. That is assuming another EV is not already using the charger. I didn't have that problem on any of the chargers. Over the two days, I spent a total of 4.5 hours charging.

I had meal breaks during the charge stops. Most of the stops had cafes and toilets nearby. Te Rapa, for example, was more industrial and I didn't see any nearby food places, but Mangaweka had a nice cafe right beside the charger. Small towns will soon wake up to the idea that they need the fast chargers installed to bring in more business. Cafes near recently installed chargers, have said their business has increased by more than 30%.

These are still early days for EVs in NZ - some of these chargers had only opened a few weeks before my trip. However, these fast chargers are going in throughout NZ at the rate of one every two weeks and that will increase as more organisations become involved.

If you wish to drive an electric vehicle long distances on a regular basis, then purchase a Tesla.

As battery packs increase in size, people will be able to drive for 2 - 3 hours before stopping for a charge. Drivers should be stopping for a break anyway, around this time.