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EV uptake surges in South Wairararpa

Wairarapa electric vehicle [EV] users are calling on the government to invest in charging infrastructure as parts of the district see the strongest uptake of EVs in the country.

Despite only having one public charging station, South Wairarapa was the district with the highest number of new EV registrations in 2023.

Martinborough business owner Conor Kershaw said he is in the process of getting fast charging stations installed in the P&K General Store car park after introducing four electric forklifts and a Renault Kangoo delivery vehicle to the business’ fleet.

“When you get involved with companies like Meridian, they’re more interested in connecting back to the actual transformers,” Kershaw said.

“We’ve got an option to do that, but they’ve got to work out grid infrastructure first.”

Kershaw said central government needs a clear strategy for clean electricity production and use.

“We’ve got a lot of big issues coming with our power grid. I think it would be great if the government could take the lead on that,” he said.

EV sales have been down in 2024 off the back of record highs in 2023, following the government replacing the Clean Car Discount scheme with road user charges for electric vehicles.

Last month Energy Minister Simeon Brown announced 25 new high-speed charging hubs along key routes and the removal of resource consent requirements for public EV charger installation.

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority group manager Richard Briggs noted there were no Wairarapa sites included in the announcement.

But improvements to the region’s charging infrastructure may be on the horizon – Meridian wants to invest in more public charging infrastructure, the power company’s chief customer officer
Lisa Hannifin told the Times-Age.

“We’d be very interested to hear from businesses in the Wairarapa region that may have ideal locations for EV drivers to charge,” Hannifin said.

Carterton EV owner Minty Hunter said he is happy the government is talking about a better charging network, but wants to avoid polarisation between electric and petrol vehicle users.

“I think the government can have a lead in that by not playing the politics of splitting people to have them fight against each other,” he said.

Hunter said the Wairarapa needs better fast-charging infrastructure because he expects EVs sales to increase as EV technology improves.

“They’re getting better – less expensive for what you get, range is getting better, and new battery technology is coming online.”

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