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Okay, so it’s a bold headline but in my defence, I’m writing this tantrum piece in the front seat of a very modern Euro EV, waiting for another Euro EV to finish charging their car – and I’ve been here for FORTY bl##### MINUTES already.

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Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t going to be a ‘ICE-vehicles forever’ type rant, as I do feel that something has to be done about the climate/environment/pollution, but as I sit and watch a smug lady happily doing whatever on her smartphone as her car sucks energy from a ChargeNet charger, while I look on in envy, I can’t think that Auckland has put the cart before the horse in some way. 

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Now it wasn’t that long ago that charging an EV out of home around Auckland was a breeze, even the ‘free chargers’ only had a couple of Leaf’s there for their half hour stints, offering their sagely advice to whomever would listen. But nowadays, heading to these free outlets is a futile exercise, as they are excessively oversubscribed, with two EVs attached and another four waiting – so around an hour and half wait before I can plug in. 

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What’s more, time of day seems immaterial, unable to sleep (someone snores in the house) my partner headed to Constellation drive at 3am only to find two EVs being re-energised – she was not happy.

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ChargeNet offers a great feature where you can take a look at the chargers around you and see if they are in use, everything around me is right now) but it doesn’t let you know how long your wait will be, and mine is now forty five minutes.

Now about that cart before the horse I was talking about. The way I look at it, the government cash incentive to get us out of ICE vehicles and into EV’s has been effective, there are more EVs on the road, however, the sub $80k cut off has (up until recently) meant smaller range battery EVs have been the sweet spot. Now many have used that rebate to add in a home charger, which is fabulous, but some either can’t or have chosen not to,and are now wasting hours at the free chargers – probably rueing the holiday they spent the money on!

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More chargers/infrastructure is the answer and that, combined with charging at home (something one of my colleagues does – another smug git) will make for less time/aggravation at the pumps. 

The Nats promising 10,000 more chargers is a big step forward, and that would be ideal for me right now, but my advice when buying an EV right now (and you should do it right now before the free money goes) is use that rebate to get a charger fitted at home – you’ll thank me for that.

And another thing – oh wait, she’s unplugging, rant over.

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17 Responses

  1. My advise is if you’re looking at buying an EV, look at the available charging infrastructure that’s provided. The only manufacturer that actually provides dedicated chargers for their customers is – you guessed it – Tesla.
    Plus with Tesla vehicles ability to precondition the battery for faster DC charging and Tesla Superchargers superior reliability and ubiquity, its a no-brainer.

    1. You make a good point, but I also now see many Tesla’s using the free chargers. Oddly I find myself more aggrieved when I see more expensive/bigger range vehicles at the free pumps.

  2. Toyota kept saying we are not ready for EVs & a hybrid is a better option. For all the new housing with no parking & no charging infrastructure. Cost wise a second hand Aqua/Prius is a much better option.

    1. I really believe you are right, certainly for those not in the position to charge at home (trickle chargers are barely an option). There is a need to lower emissions but mybe a run before walk is the correct approach?

  3. I think the biggest problem is people think that they are saving lots by just using free charging, but they are spending a ton of time wasting their precious family time sitting on their phones waiting for the charger to be available.
    Having a long range vehicle is all good if you use it, but majority of people don’t need it in reality, we should be looking into induction roads that are able to drive the vehicles without relying on high demand charging. New Zealand, as well as other countries has the infrastructure to provide the energy, use it.
    Batteries do not need to be as big to get you to the other side of the world,
    We are making our world to complicated.
    Hydrogen is a great storage means.
    Pay for the upgrade now and benefits come later.
    Why should someone who can’t drive pay for someone else, they just need the public transport and pay though that.

    1. Some really valid points, time value is very personal (some may like to be away from the family haha). But also the current mindset seems to be big battery/range at the lowest cost. I wonder how much research goes into what an EV owner want before they buy (or are they just being sheep). The 10,000 new chargers pledge from the Nats will go a long way but you’re right, someone has to pay – that and the roads they travel on.

  4. The issue here is the the Vector 50kW chargers being free. Vector has single-highhandedly made a mess of EV fast charging in Auckland.

    The presence of free vector fast chargers has meant some other fast charge providers (incl have deliberately minimized investment in those area’s, as it is impossible for them to compete with free. Central north shore is a key example. Very few other fast chargers (especially if you don’t count the one at the BMW dealership which doesn’t have bays reserved for charging to go with it).

    Something about human behavior is highly irrational when it free stuff is up for grabs. If your home power is say 20c/kWh, a 50kW charger will net you at most $5 of saving’s vs charging at home. Yet people will spend a heap of time to get that free power, even if they could just charge at home…

    Net result is that the Vector free chargers get hammered by local’s, to the point where there is often a multi car queue for them. With the growth of EV’s, It has got to a point where vector free chargers are pretty much useless for road trips, due to the wait time. And the area around them often has few paid chargers.

    Thankfully some of the petrol stations (i.e. Z walkworth, BP rosedale), have installed chargers in the last 12 months, seemingly without concern to competing with a free charger. And it think the time is right. Many EV drivers now avoid the free chargers as they are not worth the hassle.

    1. You’re right, the free power (free driving) was a great appeal early in the piece, along with the T2/EV lane but very little in this life is free. Time is a massive issue for most of us, so a 30 min wait is acceptable but 3-4 car deep, no thanks. We did end up using the BP charger the other day, but as a ‘guest’ the app is a bit clunky and apps are a pain in the %%%%. I was in the UK last year and their pay as you go chargers are just a tap and go – really easy.

  5. One issue is the density of chargers, the second the reliability.

    In Europe the worst country has 35 EVs per charger, here it is about 95. But if you factor in reliability it is much worse.

    In February we drove from Golden Bay to Auckland via Napier. About 25% of the chargers we not working.

    Interestingly, in the US the Federal Government has a reliability requirement for chargers to receive funding. Need the same here.

    BTW when we got to AKL we were amazed at the lack of charger etiquette. In the South Island it is bad form to use a charger over 30 minutes!

    1. Yep chargers per car is a serious issue and I feel ‘charger rage’ will become a thing (already seen people argue that ‘they were here first’ or ‘you already have enough charge’). I agree, reliability from over use is next, I have only seen a few non working chargers (25% sounds awful). I do get the feeling we knee jerked the EV thing – but something had to happen. Also feel ‘charger rage’ is not far off becoming a thing.

  6. I have a tesla charger installed at home for little over 1k and I get free charging every night from contact.

    If you don’t have the infrastructure to charge an ev at home it’s really not for you tbh

    1. I think I agree with you right now, and unless the infrastructure gets better or battery tech changes, for the foreseeable – unless you don’t value your time that is.

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