Guide to Buying an Electric Vehicle

The electric car revolution is here. Making the call to switch to an electric vehicle can be a smart decision for many New Zealand drivers to make. Besides being cheaper to run, easier to maintain and more energy efficient compared to other, petrol-fuelled engines, electric vehicles are an environmentally-friendly option for the everyday New Zealander. Many elements need to be considered before deciding to purchase an electric vehicle. We provide an overview of some of the more common questions that may arise before deciding to purchase electric.

What is an Electric Vehicle?

An electric vehicle has a different engine to the traditional petrol or diesel fuelled vehicle you commonly see on many New Zealand roads. Electric vehicles have a motor that is powered by a battery which is charged by connecting to an external source of electricity. So simple you can charge at home, even overnight while you’re sleeping. Electric vehicles are not just better for the environment, they’re also appealing as great cars to own and drive, no matter your budget. With no clutch or gears, electric vehicles can accelerate smoothly and quickly for a smoother, cleaner feel than the vehicles most New Zealanders have grown up with. With reduced maintenance costs compared to petrol and diesel-fuelled vehicles and the fact you won’t be spending so much on exorbitant fuel prices, perhaps now is the time to take charge and join the electric car movement?

Types of Electric Vehicle:

  • Battery electric vehicles – a purely electric, these vehicles are battery-powered by connecting to an external source of electricity.
  • Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles – have two engines; one powered by a battery which is charged by connecting to an external source of electricity. The other engine is fuelled from a fuel tank and generally uses petrol or diesel.
Conventional forms of petrol hybrids aren’t considered electric vehicles as they aren’t charged by ‘plugging in’. Their batteries are only charged by re-capturing energy when braking or from electricity generated by the engine.

Charging & Battery Information:

All electric vehicle models will have a charging cable that is capable of being plugged into a standard New Zealand three-pin socket. Charging this way can take between 12 to 14 hours. This is mainly contingent on the model and type of charger equipped. Fast charge options are available but will come at a premium cost. Charge stations are also a main source of charging your electric vehicle. These are becoming more and more commonplace throughout New Zealand with around 100 stations currently located across the country. A number of tourism destinations, hotels/motels and even campgrounds even offer charging stations to accommodate the new-age, electric vehicle driver. Be cautious with the energy use on the open road, as trips over 100km in mileage are very taxing on the battery life of an electric vehicle hence the need for stations placed throughout the country. This is not to say, electric vehicles are not for the open road. At this stage, electric vehicles are appearing in many inner-city dwellings where their ease of use and practicality is ideally suited for regular urban commutes.   

Performance & Cost

In terms of performance when comparing between electric and petrol or diesel fuelled engines a lot depends on the make and model. As stated previously electric vehicles have an edge in terms of short, regular inner-city commutes compared to open road driving. With a typically faster acceleration and torque than a standard petrol or diesel car, an electric motor offers continuous streamlined power – reducing the need of a transmission or clutch. A major benefit also when it comes to maintenance and up-keep of the vehicle. For a comprehensive comparison regarding electric vehicle performance, it would be recommended to follow the link here. In a general sense, electric cars have a greater up-front cost when compared to similar models of a petrol-fuelled engine. This can have an off-putting effect for many, but if a longer-run perspective is undertaken then the benefits can be comprehended in terms of overall fuel savings. Once thought of as an option for the elite or wealthy, electric vehicles have fast eclipsed the 10,000 electric vehicles registered on NZ roads mark (as of September 2018).  Each year as New Zealanders adopt to utilising electric vehicles, manufacturers are importing a greater range of models to fit the needs of the everyday New Zealand driver. The most popular model is the Nissan Leaf 24kWh a fully electric hatchback which has an electric-only range of 135km on a fully-charged battery and can be purchased new for the reasonable price of $12,000. There are currently over 5,000 Nissan Leaf model (fully electric) on NZ Roads. For more on a buyer’s guide to electric vehicles NZ wide go to