Electric car charging station furthest south in world

The electronic fob which drivers use to begin charging their vehicle, and to pay for their...
The electronic fob which drivers use to begin charging their vehicle, and to pay for their electricity. Photo by Allison Beckham.
Invercargill's first public electric vehicle (EV) charging station opened for business this week and is expected to be the first of many in the region.

The station, in Esk St, next to the Scottish Hall, has a DC rapid charge system which provides an 80% charge in 10 to 25 minutes.

It is a joint venture between the Invercargill-based electricity network management company PowerNet and charge.net.nz, which plans to install 150 user-pays stations throughout New Zealand.

Charge.net.nz managing director Steve West completed opening honours with Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie in front of about 50 invited guests and onlookers.

He said the station was not only the southernmost in New Zealand but in the world, and was the 18th the company had opened so far.

The facility has space for two EVs to charge at the same time, which will be ample in the meantime as there are believed to be only two EVs in the city. There are 1124 EVs registered nationwide.

PowerNet manages electricity networks across Southland, South Otago and parts of West Otago and the Maniototo.

PowerNet chief executive Jason Franklin said the two companies had a co-operation agreement under which a string of stations would be installed over that area.

Most EVs travelled about 80km-120km before they required recharging and he said there was a need for a network of public stations about every 80km "to avoid recharging anxiety''.

It was likely stations would go in first along State Highways 1 and 6, and on the road to Te Anau, he said.

Before the opening, Powernet business support general manager Tim Brown declined to say how much the site had cost to develop but said PowerNet had contributed because stations were "the future''.

"We are estimating that 10%-15% of the New Zealand vehicle fleet will eventually go to electric. But it's chicken and egg - do you get the infrastructure in first, or wait for the electric vehicles to [arrive] first?''

At the opening Mr Franklin said it was hoped the station, and others to come, would be a "platform for motorists to transition from fossil fuel vehicles to electric''.

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