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New Zealand conflicted on electric cars, seeks biofuels and hydrogen vehicles

Posted by Car Geek on October 13, 2007

New Zealand is well on its way to becoming one of the most environmentally friendly nations on the planet, especially if its government has its way. The small nation has a plan to half its transport emissions by 2040 by using biofuels, hybrids and electric vehicles, according to an energy strategy released by Prime Minister Helen Clark. The government hopes that battery-electric vehicles will make up 60 per cent of the market share by 2040, and that hydrogen-powered vehicles make up 25 per cent by 2050. The move is aided by New Zealand’s already largely clean electricity, 65 per cent of which is produced by renewable means (a figure they want to increase to 90 per cent by 2025).

However, the media and private companies aren’t quite as sold on electric cars as the government just yet. EVs have copped considerable criticism from New Zealand’s Dog and Lemon Guide, an influential car magazine. Author Clive Matthew-Wilson attacked the cars for being high cost, range-limited and in constant need of recharging. The author also said that the light-weight materials used for EVs such as carbon fibre, also used in a number of conventional vehicle components such as spoilers, were expensive to make and “incredibly toxic”. The comments (however questionable they may be) have prompted Meridian Energy, a power company that was planning to import a small number of electric cars for a trial, to review the plan, though it currently has no intentions to scrap the trial entirely.

NZ Energy Minister, David Parker, has rejected the claims of Dog & Lemon, saying that much of the technology going into electric vehicles is already used in conventional cars and that the energy used to power them would be largely renewable.

“The Prime Minister recently announced a target of 90 per cent renewable energy in the electricity sector by 2025, so we are set to see amounts of renewable electricity available increasing over time,” he said.

“New Zealand is fortunate to have so much renewable energy available at economic prices; the uptake of technologies such as electric cars will see an increasingly sustainable transport fleet.”

(Sources: NZ Herald, The Age)

Posted in Biofuels, Electric vehicles, Hydrogen, Neighbouring endeavours | 3 Comments »