Electric cars have bright future in NZ

Electric vehicles have a bright future in New Zealand and could save the country $8.2 billion over 50 years, according to a new report.

The report, undertaken by Hyder Consulting and jointly commissioned by Contact Energy and Meridian Energy, outlines a cost-benefit assessment of electric vehicles in New Zealand.

Most of the benefit - 91% - comes from decreased operating and maintenance costs to private vehicle owners.

Drivers would save on fuel costs, and there would be less reliance on imported fossil fuels.

Private drivers' benefits would be so high from electric vehicles that demand would most likely exceed available supply until 2030.

Carbon and air pollution savings would contribute $769 million, or 9%.

"With so much of our electricity produced from renewable sources, and so much of our current greenhouse gas emissions coming from transport, electric vehicles offer New Zealand a real opportunity to reduce emissions without compromising on quality of life," Meridian Energy chief executive Tim Lusk said.

Electric vehicles would have other benefits as well that were unable to be quantified such as enhanced energy security, improved stormwater quality, a reduction of noise pollution and balance payments, diminishing demand for offshore oil over time.

"This technology can make a contribution to decreasing our reliance on imported fossil fuels and improve our energy security and self sufficiency," said David Baldwin, contact managing director.

The report argues there will be a $9.4b saving on petrol and a $1.5b saving on diesel over the next 50 years.

However, energy expenses would rise by $1.9b. The report shows the amount of energy consumed if electric vehicles are adopted would increase from nil to 4.7 million MWh by 2059.

Purchase and maintenance would also cost $1.6m, though total private benefits would be $7.4b. Air pollution savings would be $395m.

Contact and Meridian commissioned the report to provide information for future decision making and policy development.

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