Government providing $3.9 million of co-funding for 19 innovated EV projects

Electric car being charged at EV charge point for electric vehicles at Z service station in Wellington.Photo by Lynn Grieveson

The government is pumping another $3.9 million of co-funding into 19 projects that range from improving the range of electric camper vans to building a series of charging stations as part of its goal to get 64,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2021.

The funding is provided by the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, a fund introduced by the previous administration in 2016 as a wider plan to lift the uptake of electric vehicles. The balance comes from its commercial and not-for-profit partners, who have to match or beat the grants.

So far, the government has provided $14 million that has been matched by $23 million in third-party funding. As of March 31, there were 7,232 EVs on local roads.

“This is about demonstrating the rapidly evolving technology that is making electric vehicles a practical option for a growing number of businesses," Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods said in a statement.

She also said the latest round continues to build New Zealand's EV public charging network and includes 22 more public fast chargers to build drivers’ confidence as they drive between Christchurch and Blenheim; the Southern Scenic tourist route; and the Kapiti and Horowhenua coasts.

The projects also include $763,668 of funding for NZ Bus, owned by Infratil. NZ Bus will install charging infrastructure at two bus depots to support more than 50 pure battery electric buses. The electric buses will be rolled out by converting the old Wellington trolley buses. With night-time charging, the project will deliver lower emissions while avoiding peak electricity prices and distribution network congestion.

Rival Masterton-based Tranzit Group will receive $367,000 for the first provincial electric bus operation in the country in Palmerston North, with its new fully electric bus operating on busy urban roads in the region.

New Zealand Post will receive $100,425 to partner with contractor Grant Bagshaw to demonstrate the suitability of electric vans for use on a rural post delivery network. Three Nissan e-NV200 vans will operate in the Katikati region for a period of 12 months, providing experience and data for building the EV business case for the 600 vehicles currently in operation in the Rural Post fleet.

It will also receive another $61,150 to produce a practical checklist for companies to assess the likely impact of installing EV chargers on building electrical infrastructure and energy costs.

Other projects include $365,000 for tourism business Jucy Group that will collaborate with a group of tertiary institutions to design lightweight fit-out options and other range extension initiatives to maximise the range for electric vans used in the tourism industry. Jucy will purchase and fit out 10 fully electric camper vans for this project, which will provide options for both domestic and international tourists to experience New Zealand’s environment leaving only tiny carbon footprints.

Round five for the fund will open on Aug. 15. Woods challenged applications to explore the potential of vehicle-to-grid and smart charging technologies.