German auto giant to help build New Zealand's electric vehicle "highway"

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/9/27 10:03:05

The New Zealand government Tuesday welcomed moves by German auto giant BMW to build an "electric highway" of fast-charging stations to help overcome one of the main obstacles to electric vehicle uptake.

BMW said the partnership with national charging network Charge Net NZ would enable electric vehicle (EV) drivers to travel right across New Zealand through the installation of a fast charging highway, said the company.

The two companies would install more than 100 DC stations around New Zealand, providing nationwide fast-charge coverage, by the end of next year.

Supported by an investment from BMW AG in Munich, New Zealand was on track to become one of the first nations in the world where it would be possible to drive around the entire country using purely electric power, BMW New Zealand managing director Florian Renndorfer said in a statement.

The BMW-Charge Net "Electric Highway" would expand Charge Net NZ's existing network of 20 fast-charging stations.

The government has set a target of doubling the number of electric vehicles in New Zealand every year to reach 64,000 by 2021, or about 2 percent of the country's current light vehicle fleet.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said the nationwide network of fast-charging stations would help address one of the main barriers to EV uptake.

"A big barrier preventing households and businesses from choosing EVs is the limited availability of public charging infrastructure. Increasing the number of charging stations will give New Zealanders the confidence to use EVs for longer distance travelling," Bridges said in a statement.

"Currently there are more than 30 fast charging stations in New Zealand, with more opening every week, and more than 100 other public charging stations across the country. However, long distance travel on battery alone still causes range anxiety," said Bridges.

"Now we want New Zealanders to consider choosing an EV as their next car given the confidence they can have in the supporting infrastructure."

Developing guidelines for the installation of public charging infrastructure was one of the 14 initiatives the government announced in May as part of its EV program.

Critics say the program does not properly address the biggest barrier to EV uptake in New Zealand, the cost of the vehicles themselves.

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