Hamilton leads Oceania in EV infrastructure

Credit: Original article can be found here

Our public charging network seems pretty good, at least when compared to Australia. But is that really the case?


Our public charging network seems pretty good, at least when compared to Australia. But is that really the case?

Generally speaking, New Zealand feels pretty good when it comes to supporting EV growth. The Clean Car Discount has bumped new electric sales from 8% to 20% from 2021 to 2022, and the public charging network is constantly expanding. At the time of writing, ChargeNet is nearing 300 public charge points. But is that rose-tinted goggles at work?

A recent study looked at the EV infrastructure of major cities around the world by using publicly available data from OpenStreetMap or Google Maps API to define the locations and calculate the length of available roads in each city. It then sourced EV charging station data from plugshare.com, ensuring that all locations were within area boundaries.

Looking at the Oceania data, the study revealed that Hamilton was the leading city for chargers relative to road length with 22.2 chargers per 1000km. Wellington followed with 20.6 chargers per 1000km, then Tauranga at 13.8, then Auckland with 13.7. All four rate higher than the best Australian city, that being Newcastle with 9.1 chargers per 1000km.


The Clean Car Discount scheme was unveiled by Transport Minister Michael Wood and Climate Change Minister James Shaw on June 13. (first published June 2021)

Unfortunately, we’re way behind the global leaders. Saanich, a district municipality on Vancouver Island in Canada, has a huge 274.5 chargers per 1000km, ahead of Cambridge, Massachusetts’s 225.9 chargers per 1000km and Montreal’s 187.2.

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These figures compare interestingly with data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), which revealed that New Zealand’s high EV uptake has resulted in an EV-per-public-charger figure of 96, comfortably ahead of the next country, Iceland with 38. We don’t really want this one to be high, as it means there are a lot more EVs on the road than chargers.

The only real fix for this is to install more chargers, but that takes time. In the interim, EV drivers will need to charge at home more often, unless they’re prepared to wait if their local charger is in use.

As for power supply, the IEA study shows that New Zealand also needs to step up a bit more here, with a kW-per-EV figure of 0.4kW. This means each EV isn’t getting much power.

“During the early stages of EV adoption, it makes sense for available charging power per EV to be high, assuming that charger utilisation will be relatively low until the market matures and the utilisation of infrastructure becomes more efficient,” the study said.

Compare our number with the likes of Korea, which has a minuscule EV-per-charger ratio of two but 6.9kW available per EV. That means the few electric vehicles there are in Korea are able to use plenty of power to recharge, although the IEA notes most of those public chargers (90%) are slow chargers with 22kW or less of power delivery.

Theoretically, considering many of New Zealand’s public chargers are 50kW and above, EV users won’t need to charge for as long and free up the space sooner for the next person. But we still need the network to keep pace with our growing electric fleet.