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Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Electric vehicles could soon prove a boon for farmers, tradies and others, an Otago Polytechnic automotive lecturer says.

Automotive senior lecturer Kevin O'Neill said it was not a matter of if but when manufacturers began bringing vehicles to the New Zealand market instead of their petrol and diesel counterparts.

Kevin O'Neill. Photo: ODT files
Kevin O'Neill. Photo: ODT files
He said he expected a shift towards electric vehicles could begin with plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and other lower-emission vehicles entering New Zealand first as the country followed global trends.

Already electric motors throughout the world had more torque and more power than anything a petrol or diesel motor could muster.

But the scepticism among some in New Zealand about the potential for electric vehicles was the ‘‘cycle life’’ of batteries.

A cellphone battery, for example, might be good for 500 charges and discharges before it dropped to 80% effectiveness.

And early electric cars suffered from a similar drawback.

But in the same way cellphones improved over the years, improvements in the cycle life of car batteries were being made.

‘‘I can remember when cellphones were briefcase-sized,’’ Mr O'Neill said.

The improvements in electric vehicle batteries were raising expectations and there were interesting possibilities on the horizon.

‘‘Think of an electric truck that a tradie can take up to their site, which might have no power, and they can run the site for the day, and still have enough electricity to go home,’’ he said.

‘‘Or maybe someone’s got a bach, that they don’t want to put power to, because it’s too dear, but they can drive their car to it, they can plug their car into the bach and they can run the bach for the weekend while they’re there.’’

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

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"The improvements in electric vehicle batteries were raising expectations and there were interesting possibilities on the horizon."
Expectations and possibilities are all well and good, except for people that have a problem they need to fix now.
The first issue is, where is the electricity going to come from !!!
Indonesian COAL ???
The issue is about reducing emissions, is it not.
It is NOT about the car you drive.
In 2016 they said they would close down COAL generation by 2018.
This year we IMPORTED more COAL than last.
There is every probability next year will be the same.
They banned the drilling for offshore gas.
Agitators harassed gas exploration in the south.
Now we BURN MORE IMPORTED COAL !!!
This is the result when emotion surpasses logic.
It is because people are more focused on the carriage, instead of the horse.
Realistic, incremental improvement is the name of the game.
NOT revolution.

(The improvements in electric vehicle batteries were raising expectations and there were interesting possibilities on the horizon - 'they can plug their car into the bach and they can run the bach for the weekend while they’re there') Tell me Kevin, how far away is this horizon??

I like the misleading way electric cars have been marketed as some sort of 'green' silver bullet. "Leaf" is exactly an example of that. Marketing targeted at the gullible. Right now, we're importing tonnes of coal from Indonesia on heavy fuel oil-burning ships to generate electricity right here in good old clean green NZ. We're quite happy to play environmental elite, leave the mining to other countries for coal, lithium, cobalt, copper... to hell with the costs, and then we pat ourselves on the back and line up like sheep to buy an EV. And right at a time when our electricity market is expensive and struggling to meet demand. People are struggling to keep warm, but told to buy a heat pump. And then we just import coal to generate more power??!!
A change in transport propulsion is indeed needed and it will have to take a variety of forms. There will need to be a massive improvement in technologies and that will take considerable time. But please, can we stop with the "EV's are good for the planet" rhetoric. More sensible use of what we have would be a good start.

NO

A perfect example of people choosing to ignore the facts to push their beliefs on others. Just keep pushing Elitist Vehicles, regardless of the damage they too are doing. There is no single solution for transportation needs. Especially swapping one environmentally damaging platform for another, simply because it is marketed as 'wholesome' - doesn't make it right, that's how 'marketing' works, Nash. But hey, all the best to you - by all means enjoy that LEAF, I'll invest now and wait till later for the hydrogen option. New Zealand shouldn't be in a rush to import EVs, our impact on the planet is minuscule, that gives us an advantage, to make the best choice for our transportation needs. Those Leafs will be worth nothing in 3-5 years. NOTHING, like a disposable lighter - just as no one takes pride in a cordless drill, you just throw it away. What we do right now will not save the planet, so we have time to make better decisions on future technology without creating more problems by rushing in like 'blinded lab rats' for car manufacturers. And that's how it should be - making our own choices not falling for the marketing and scaremongering hype.

So no science behind the claim and a polytechnic lecture is an academic now?

EV's and tall promises... reminds me of a time when CNG was touted and marketed strongly as the next best thing in reply to oil prices of the day. We created our own CNG, (conpressed natural gas), yes, I spelt it as CON. The Government funded the thousands of conversions, people lined up like llamas. Then they had a go at LPG, the marketing, the hype, the promise - now we burn it at BBQs. Then we imported thousands of used Japanese cars, said goodbye to government-funded public transport and ran solely on petrol, some with wound back speedos, but we fell for it, and Fair Go sorted it. We still haven't learnt have we, check the price of replacement batteries! The power of MARKETING. Now, we're being told the planet is burning faster than the fuel we pump. We're being manipulated into spending large amounts of money on a technology in its very early development, only to find, we don't generate enough power to run them. We're importing dirty mined fuel to power a promise of clean emissions, mining to manufacture them, and they are funded by the Government. Sound familiar? Wake up folks, be patient....not sheep.

For an academic, it seems to be a very glib sort of analysis. What will it do for electricity prices? What about the rural community? Think about the ultra-fast fibre network, how much of the rural community does that serve? What about disposal of batteries? What about the semi conductor shortage? It's a yuppy dream. My 25-year-old $3000 V8 BMW costs far less, isn't landfill and keeps mechanics employed.

While we contemplate how awesome EVs will be for the environment and society as a whole shouldn't we be asking where will the components for the batteries come from? How many wars (which contributes more to the deterioration of our environment than any other single entity) are going to be created to source the rare minerals needed to produce the batteries? While we're on the subject I haven't seen much publicity questioning the effect military exercises incl. nuclear testing and the bombing of multiple regions all over the Earth has had and is having on the well being of our planet as I believe it's most probably one of the biggest polluters of our atmosphere. We need to stop white washing the problem just so a small handful of the population can continue to make huge profit.

I still prefer my carbon moderated hydrogen powered vehicle any day.

While we contemplate how awesome EVs will be for the environment and society as a whole shouldn't we be asking where will the components for the batteries come from? How many wars (which contributes more to the deterioration of our environment than any other single entity) are going to be created to source the rare minerals needed to produce the batteries? While we're on the subject I haven't seen much publicity questioning the effect military exercises incl. nuclear testing and the bombing of multiple regions all over the Earth has had and is having on the well being of our planet as I believe it's most probably one of the biggest polluters of our atmosphere.

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