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Dr Helen Fitt says electric cars could help the tourism industry improve its impact on local communities and the environment.
"Tourism generates a substantial amount of movement around New Zealand and now we have an opportunity to think about how we can make that movement work better for us.”
Fitt wants to hear from electric vehicle owners interested in being involved in the research.
"We want to hear about people’s experiences of using their EVs to travel around New Zealand so that we can start thinking about how to make the most of the opportunities open to us as we reboot tourism and encourage Kiwis to explore their own backyards.”
"Almost all the research done on electric vehicle use so far has focused on routine trips, like commuting, in urban areas.
"We have a real opportunity here to give our recovering tourism industry a spark of something new, exciting, and globally significant.
"It’s clearly not the only thing our tourism industry needs right now, but it might be one piece of the puzzle.”
She said recent reductions in car use during the lockdown had improved air quality and generated interest in cleaner transport.
“While we’ve all been busily staying at home to save lives from Covid-19, we’ve probably also reduced deaths associated with poor air quality.”
A 2012 Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand report estimated air pollution from traffic results in 256 premature deaths a year.
As we work towards economic recovery, Fitt says we should look at how our transport systems can provide better outcomes for health, the environment and society.
“EVs won’t solve all our transport problems, they won’t fix congestion and they’re unlikely to reduce the holiday road toll, but they could make our air cleaner."
People interested in helping with the research should email email@example.com.