16jul a guide to electric vehicles hero
Research report
2 March 2017

A guide to electric vehicles

Here’s what you need to know about the electric vehicle revolution.

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Doug M.
02 Feb 2021
EVs and towing

Hi, when you update the article can you please state which EVs can have towbars fitted and also which ones can tow trailers of at least 500kg, and which ones can tow a 'standard' caravan.

The Government wants to phase out the import of petrol powered cars by 2035 but little thought seems to have been given to NZers use of vehicles and their trailer and boat ownership rates.

Steve F.
03 Aug 2021
Keep Watching, be patient if you can wait

There are many more on the market now but all at the top end, none in 'affordable' range. Some owners Tow with their leafs but it voids warranties and uses juice up significantly. It will only get better. That's why, as I needed a car now, after going through EV to PHEV to ICE, I choose ICE as electrics suitable to save costs on rural roads, tow and launch boats in the water and off road cred, were way too expensive for my budget, can't wait another few years as still no public transport anywhere nearby. I so wanted to be green but alas not this time.

Peter H.
10 Jan 2021
Time for an up to date article on EVs

Thanks for this article, and it is about time that it is updated. A lot has happened with electric vehicles since 2016.

The public charging network has developed significantly. Check out the charge.net.nz and plugshare.com websites.

If you are doing a new article, please talk to some real EV owners. The actual experience of owning and driving an EV is quite different to what is typically displayed in published articles in the media.

Some notes on the technical details:
For EV efficiency data, flipthefleet.org has NZ data from real life EV owners. The overall average is around 7km/kWh (143Wh/km). The figure of 21 kWh/100km cited above is unrealistically pessimistic.
Almost all charging is done at home, so the cost of public charging is not that relevant for most people.
It is more efficient (less GHG emissions) to burn the petrol in a power station and use an EV, than to burn the petrol in an ICE vehicle.
Most EV to ICE vehicle price comparisons are misleading because they don't include the environmental cost of emitting GHG. Most GHG emission comparisons are misleading because they don't include the emissions from the production, refining and transportation of fossil fuels.

19 Apr 2017
30c/l comparison is misleading

A large proportion of the roughly $2/l petrol price is Government taxes, including those that pay for our roads, which electric vehicles use as well. In future, EVs will pay some kind of road user charge that will narrow the gap considerably. Furthermore, the 30c/l equivalent does not include the $6000 cost of a replacement battery every 8 to 10 years. Include that plus the RUC and the fuel cost will be comparable (which is logical based on energy economics, as our electricity cost is based on the marginal cost of additional peak generation which is often hydrocarbon-based generation, particularly in winter). Furthermore, even the misleading 30c/l equivalent cost is only true for home-based slow charging - a fast-charge at a station costs around $10 which is almost identical to the fuel cost for the same distance of travel (120km) for a modern fuel-efficient hydrocarbon-fueled vehicle (including the RUC in the case of diesels).

Paul S.
20 Apr 2017
re: 30c/l comparison is misleading

Hi M J W,

I'd just point out that, it's not fair to include the cost of a new battery every 8-10 years in the EV fuel cost, unless you also include the cost of maintaining and repairing an internal combustion engine and transmission over 8-10 years in the petrol cost. Do that and the real cost of driving starts to get rather large. The motor and transmission of an EV is very unlikely to need any repair in that time (as they use incredibly reliable electric motors with one moving part - and have with no transmission).

The older Leafs are now approaching 6-7 years old, and few (globally) have needed a full battery replacement. Batteries don't usually fail completely as they age - they lose capacity. So an 8-10 year old one may only have 70% or so of its capacity remaining. That would be a problem in a car that only covered 110km when new and fully charged, but in an EV with a range over 300km, that reduction still leaves a very usable car. As battery technology improves, this will only get better.

I agree about the RUCs for EVs. At some point the government will need to create a way for road users to pay for the roads. Right now, and through to 2021, EVs are exempt as a carrot to encourage people to switch to them. In a few years when they become a significant proportion of vehicles on the roads, they will somehow pay their way I'm sure. But by then, perhaps petrol cars will be hit with an additional 'pollution tax' to signify the damage they do - not just to the roads?

I also agree about the fast charging costing significantly more. However, experience from here and overseas shows the vast majority of EV charging is done overnight at home, where the 30c/l figure is realistic. We are now seeing electricity tariffs offering discounted overnight electricity to EV owners in response to that. EV charging in NZ is predicted to have very little impact on peak generation requirements, so it's unlikely it will adversely affect electricity costs.

Consumer NZ staff

John E.
16 Sep 2016
When will the Accomodation Industry Catch Up?

Good luck to you if you want to book accommodation with EV charging available. The only suggestion I had from booking.com was to try emailing each and every hotel/motel- then there is the Wellington hotel that advertises EV charging, but appear not to have told their staff where it is, so they did not accept a booking.

Ross M.
27 Aug 2016
Why no mention of the Toyota Prius or Camry hybrids?

..or did I miss it in my brief skimming of the article? I'd be very interested in a comparison over say, a 300 Km round trip. With those hybrids of course the range is effectively limitless, though your fossil burn is still significant.

Paul S.
29 Aug 2016
re: Why no mention of the Toyota Prius or Camry hybrids?

Hi Ross,

We left out the Toyota hybrids because they don't plug in to charge - that's the accepted definition of of an electric car (BEV or PHEV). The hybrid part on the Prius and Camry is really there to reduce fuel consumption - there is no 'electric-only' mode and the battery would only be good for a couple of kilometres before it runs out.

Toyota are now selling a new-used (Signature Class) plug-in Prius hybrid here that will cover 17-18km on battery alone (according to US EPA testing). Overseas they have the Prius Prime PHEV launching soon, capable of 35km electric-only travel. But there are no plans announced to bring that here.

Consumer NZ Staff

Matthew G.
17 Aug 2016
It probably won't be the future for Wellington..

These things are pretty much useless unless you have a powered garage. Look how many cars are parked on the street at night..

In many Wellington suburbs garages are a scarce commodity, and powered garages even more so. Therefore this generation of electric vehicles is unlikely to take off here.

I think electric cars will not become mainstream you can quickly swap out batteries at a service station or something along those lines

Jean W.
08 Mar 2017
Street power

In the UK there are streets full of houses with no garages, although admittedly the houses are usually close to the road. I gather that EV drivers there usually put in out-door charging points that look like hose reels and have a longer reach (and for a while their govt paid for them, to encourage take-up - they are expensive). It shouldn't be rocket science to put plugs on some power poles. You're right though that swapping batteries is also a good option and is happening in the US, I think (they are on 120V so take much longer to charge their cars at home). Benefit of that is also that the batteries would never have to be fast-charged, so would have longer lives. I was pretty happy to realise that my garage had power when I bought my Leaf.

Jon B.
15 Aug 2016
Teslas in NZ

great article and glad you make the points in favour so clearly. There should absolutely be government subsidies to at least kick-start the adoption of electric (not hybrid) cars here in NZ. I'm a little surprised you left out the plans to launch the (cheaper) Model 3 Tesla here in 2017 or '18. Having driven Teslas in the USA, I think they will have a dramatic and positive impact on the market here. They are amazing cars.

Heather Armishaw
08 Aug 2016
We love our Leaf

We've owned our Leaf (2015 Gen 2 X) for 6 weeks and LOVE it. So far nobody has mentioned the time saving - plugging in at night takes about 10 seconds, no more trips to the petrol station, no more annoying supermarket petrol vouchers to keep track of. But be wary of the 'range' figures. Driving at night with the heater on, in this really cold weather, does consume more of the % charge remaining (probably a more reliable figure than km remaining).

Noel B.
08 Aug 2016
Electricity = coal

Why is electricity being heralded as the great environmental benefit when in most countries additional generation is powered largely by coal....

Steve W.
08 Aug 2016
The Fossil Fuel Folk are out in force...

In NZ 80% of power is from renewable sources, plus electricity means not importing petrol. So less emissions and better balance of trade.


Even if some of these power is from coal in some countries, you're still removing transport emissions from the equation.

That means less emissions. End of story.

I noted your use of the word "additional". There's about as vague as one can get with respect to actual quantity of emmissions. Potentially very misleading if "additional" is trivial at peak.

Paul S.
08 Aug 2016
re: Electricity = coal

Hi Noel,

In NZ, about 80% of our electricity is from low carbon generation. The problem is the peak load - that's when gas and coal are fired up to cope with cold winter evenings. The good news for EVs is that they don't contribute to that peak load - charged overnight they use space capacity in the hydro lakes and turbines. Even if we get so many EVs that we need more generation to cope, the type of load they add suits renewable sources. In NZ we have plenty of those consented and ready to implement, if and when demand requires them.

Overseas it isn't as rosy, as many countries do rely on coal and oil. But the same idea holds - EVs encourage a shift to renewable generation, at least in new power plants consented and built. And ultimately, petrol and diesel will always come from oil, with electricity we have a better option.

Consumer NZ staff.

Peter B.
06 Aug 2016
Great review; Nissan Leaf is great, but check NZ battery guarantee and NZ new stat

I also purchased a Nissan Leaf Gen 2 (2013) from Autolink as a Japanese Import (in Jan. this year) - and have no regrets. Its environmental credentials and its performance are all I need in a city car, and on full charge I have travelled to Hamilton (Te Rapa fast charge), and to top of Awhitu Peninsula. While the screen is in Japanese, an English manual is available, and photos of the screens can be translated electroncially.

In general this is an excellent article, providing enlightened advice about electric vehicles in a NZ context, and information about the models available. I suggest that 3 points should be checked out further:
1) Is the Nissan Leaf battery guarantee honoured in NZ?
2) While new Nissan Leafs may have been available in NZ till 2015, check out the date of manufacture of those "new cars". Were they not Gen 1 (2011) vehicles?
3) It might also be worth Consumer asking if Nissan NZ will service Nissan Leaf cars?


Paul S.
08 Aug 2016
re: Nissan Leaf guarantees and servicing in NZ

Hi Peter,

Thanks for your comments, good to hear about a solution for the Japanese screen. Regarding your questions:

I used the battery guarantee as an example of an EV manufacturer showing long-term confidence in the battery. As the Leaf would be an import here now, the guarantee would fall under the CGA - it would need to fulfill the expectations of a reasonable consumer. The overseas guarantee would act as good evidence should any claim need to be made.

I haven't asked Nissan about servicing, but I know some dealers will service the Leaf. Locally in Wellington, the Nissan dealer Gazely used to sell the Leaf and now import them. It's a good point - it would pay to check that you can get your EV (of any flavour) locally serviced. of course, the EV part of the EV shouldn't need much servicing, and the rest (steering, suspension, brakes etc) is essentially just a normal car.

Paul Smith
Consumer NZ Staff

Peter I.
06 Aug 2016
The 30c per litre equivalent is a downright lie.

Shame on you Consumer for not checking your facts. Quoting and attributing it to another source does not make it ok. I thought that's what consumer was about: the truth through testing.
That oft quoted figure of 30c per litre equivalence is simply NOT true! WAY not true. Not true to the point of being a downright lie. Where on earth did the EECA they get their data?! The bottom line: for 30c/L to be the petrol equivalent, you'd need to be getting your electricity for 8c per kWh.
In NZ we pay more than twice that (and nearly 4 times that) - in the region of 17-28c depending on plans, peaks & off peaks. Based on those figures the petrol price equivalent of an electricity 'fill up' is actually between 0.70c & $1.40/L! (and it's important to realise that those numbers don't even include a portion of the daily fixed line charge which can add 50c to $1 to each 'fill'. Plus you'll only get your lowest poss rate if you have a dedicated plug/charger that ONLY runs at night/controlled rates. You whole house doesn't switch to the low rate, it's dedicated circuits like your water or night store heater.)
The stats:
Nissan Leaf uses 21kwh per 100km.
Toyota Corolla uses 5.6L/100km
Leaf: $3.60-$8.00/100km (night rate @$0.17 excl daily chg - day rate $0.33/kWh plus share of daily charge)
Corolla $12/100km (@$2.20/L)
A great source for these comparative and truthful figures can be found at Counties Power.

I asked above "where does the EECA get their data? I really don't know. The only places in the world that approach 8c per KW hr for power is Louisiana in the USA st $8.50 and Bulgaria at $10. In some EU countries like Denmark & Germany it can be 4 times that.
So come on Consumer get real. Do the number crunching yourselves and add a little truth not hype. EVs are a great thing. Truly great and are the future. Nonsense is not.

Peter I.
07 Aug 2016
To clarify the math... And the harm done here.

Nissan Leaf uses 21kwh per 100km.
Toyota Corolla uses 5.6L/100km

At $0.24c per kWh (typical home rate and a current ('scuse the pun) figure often used for appliance power calcs) the leaf costs $5.04 to travel 100km. (21 x $0.24 = $5.04)
To travel 100km for $5.04 in the Corolla you'd need to pay $0.90c per litre for your petrol. ($5.04 / 5.6 = $0.90)
Therefore 90c per litre is the equivalent fuel cost for the Leaf.

Heres where it gets pretty clear as to the equivalent fuel costs for the various vehicles.. 90c per litre happens to be what I pay for diesel for my car and my van. The only substantial difference is that I pay RUC of $6.80 per 100km. This is the same road tax that plug in capable EVs currently have a 'holiday' from paying but at some stage the govt has indicated that they will need to pay.

The salient point about the lie of the '30c per litre equivalence' is that the minister recently quoted this figure while justifying their stance on not increasing any subsidies to encourage EV uptake. They are saying this 30c 'low running cost' is partial incentive enough.
So this lie/misinformation is NOT harmless.

Steve W.
08 Aug 2016
My LEAF uses 21kWh / 140km....

So about 1/3 the cost of petrol.....and if you use free, public chargers it's.....free.

Paul S.
08 Aug 2016
re: equivalent cost per litre

Hi Peter,

You make a good point about that 30c per litre equivalent, so I’ve investigated further. I agree that the EECA figure is rather generous, and we will be asking them to explain where it comes from.

I’ve summarised my own calculations and assumptions here:

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publish MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) for the Leaf. For urban driving this is 126 MPGe, for a combined cycle it’s 114 MPGe.

Their figures for a new Toyota Corolla CVT are 29 mpg urban (that’s 8.1 l/100km) and 32 mpg combined (7.4 l/100km). The highway figure of 38 mpg (6.2 l/100km) is misleading, as that’s not where a Leaf would be used.

I’m using the US EPA numbers as these are more realistic than published fuel economy figures from manufacturers, and enable an independent like for like comparison.

The numbers give an EV to petrol ratio of 0.23 (urban) and 0.28 (combined). Using the current price of petrol of $1.75 (in Wellington, where I filled up this weekend), I get an equivalent EV cost of 40c per litre (urban) and 49c per litre (combined). More than the 30c claimed by EECA, but not too shabby.

I checked this with a calculation based on getting 135km from the 24kWhr battery in the Leaf (more US EPA data) and an electricity cost of 26c per kWhr (gathered from Powerswitch data we use for all our running cost calculations). That gives me an equivalent cost of 57c per litre. If I use a power price of 21c per kWhr (based on a Mercury reduction of 20% for all power used between 11pm and 7am), the EV costs 46c per litre equivalent.

Of course, we don’t know what assumptions EECA made to get 30c per litre – it could be a different petrol or electricity price, different EV efficiency or comparison to a less fuel efficient petrol car, or a combination of all of those. So finally, I swapped the Corolla for the estimated fuel economy of the 2014 NZ light vehicle fleet (published by the Ministry of Transport), of 9.6-9.7 l/100km. This reduces the EV cost to the equivalent of paying 38 cents for a litre of petrol. Still not the magical 30 cents, but getting close.

I still need to verify my calculations, but when I have, I’ll update the offending paragraph of the article.

Paul Smith
Consumer NZ staff.

Peter I.
04 Mar 2017

Hi Paul,
Yes I agree re. manufacturers figures for consumption - not to be trusted.

There is also the danger of quoting and using US fuel figures published as MPG. Clarity and care should be made in the calculation & display of the info whether a conversion to litres has been done with the US or the UK gallon conversion rate. A common mistake.

I am keen to see the outcome or reply to the EECA question.


John E.
06 Aug 2016

Remember to check that you can get an electric vehicle serviced within the range of the car. Most Nissan dealers cannot service the specialised electrics in a Leaf - I imagine other dealer networks will be similar.

Steve W.
08 Aug 2016
Has anyone required service?

I have yet to hear of anyone actually requiring service for the electrics in the LEAF. Low maintenance all around is one of the key selling points. No oil. No gear box. No air filters. Less wear on the brakes due to engine regeneration..

Steve W.
05 Aug 2016
EV Experiences

I've been driving a NIssan LEAF for a hair under 2 months. Mine is a 2015 "Gen 2" Model S imported from Japan. I bought it from Autolink in Grey Lynn for $29,995 in Early June. They specialise in LEAFs and have a reputation to protect as the largest LEAF dealer in NZ.

Like the reviewer, I'm very taken with my EV. It's better than a petrol car in most ways that matter to me: quiet, fast, no emissions and dirt cheap to run. At first I charged up every night and found that most days my battery never gets within a bull's roar of 50%, so I started charging every two or three days. If I get too low a 15 minute stop at one of the growing number of rapid chargers around Auckland sorts that out.

I've experimented with range. There is a chain of fast chargers to the north of Auckland ends at Kawakawa (today). You can get to Kaitaia easily enough as long as you stay the night to charge up and head back to Kawakawa. To the south, the fast charger at WEL in Te Rapa (Hamilton) puts Tauranga *just* in reach, with its sole fast charger at Bayfair Mall. I've also driven to Thames and back, though the lack of a fast charger in Thames (almost ready at the Library, but not quite) more or less requires an overnight stay....which worked for me on that trip.

I didn't want a PHEV as they still burn fossil fuels and we've already done more than enough of that.

Would I go back to petrol? No. In fact, this LEAF has made such a strong case for going EV now that I have ordered a 2016 LEAF "Tekna" from the UK with the new 30kw battery pack and 210km range. Almost enough to get from Auckland to Tauranga on a single charge. It's $46,995 and on the road, but even at that price it's excellent value as I won't have to buy petrol or undergo expensive servicing of all the bits that wear out on the petrol car.

Bottom line for me is that from Hamilton to Kawakawa an EV like the LEAF is both viable and desirable....and excellent value for money.

Petrol is dead at my house.

Previous member
04 Dec 2016
Use of Language

Paul S,

I commend you and you professionalism in replying to some of these inflammatory comments. When writers accuse others of lying, and use capital letters to "shout" at people (whether or not their points are valid), it must take a lot of effort to remain calm and objective. Your response was impartial, reasonable and a credit to Consumer NZ.

And I certainly appreciated your review of what is certainly the way of the future - while I certainly will make the move, it is just not for me right now.

Alan U.
18 Dec 2016
NISSAN LEAF running cost

We put a kWh meter on a dedicated twin plug for our Leaf. The Leaf had 27,484 km on the clock when we moved. This morning it shows 29,233 km and the kWh meter 346.2 = 5.05 km/kW. Genesis charges us 24.21 c/unit plus a bit more for 'daily fixed charge' so around 25.0 c/unit. I don't know if a Genesis unit is a kWh ?
We love our Leaf. For Christchurch, it is a perfect second car; smooth, silent, powerful, roomy and very cheap to run - even when road tax is eventually added. Battery usage is seldom below 60% full. My only complaint is that the recharging cap opener is very badly placed considering it is used most days.
Like other contributors, I would like to know more about who can service the car and what servicing the electrics are likely to need over time. Lithium battery disposal is also a concern, but hopefully will become more efficient as the number of EV's increases.
It is a pity Nissan NZ don't get on board for imports and provide an NZ map chip.

Heather Armishaw
18 Feb 2017
In total agreement

I can't imagine ever going back to an ICE. Roll on the day when our campervan (diesel) can be powered by electric. Range anxiety is never a problem for us as if we are going further afield it is always in our campervan, for a few days. Our Leaf is on the go every day - mostly short distances so it's a no-brainer.