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Rental car firm in NZ rents out 100% electric cars

October 31, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A major rental car firm chose clean and green New Zealand for the launch of an 100%-electric vehicle fleet, available for rent to the public – along with six wise tips for getting the most out of them.

Europcar NZ’s new e-Golfs are part of its long-term sustainability strategy, implemented this month in conjunction with Volkswagen New Zealand.

The joint venture involved corporate travellers driving the e-Golfs on business trips at no cost, instead of being taxied around. Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch airports led the advance, earlier in the year.

Now, the general public will be able to do the same from Auckland and Christchurch, following a thorough e-Golf test run of 1278 kilometres, spread out over five days from Auckland to Christchurch.

General Manager Europcar New Zealand, Stephen Jones says the best way to understand the consumer experience is to experience it, from beginning to end.

Europcar electric vehicle. E-Golf

“We needed to know exactly what our clients would experience driving the electric vehicle, especially on extended trips as a major component of our customer base consists of tourists,” he said.

“We needed to be absolutely sure that our electric vehicle fleet and the e-Golf are safe above all else, reliable and convenient. As a motoring business, these are the three important priorities in our business and we were pleased to get the result we anticipated, which is the e-Golf proved highly successful on an extended road trip, ticking all three boxes.

“Since beginning our customer experience exercise, we have been approached by several regional hotel owners and operators with a keen interest in setting up charging stations to cater for eco-conscious travellers – a clear trend on the rise.”

Europcar New Zealand claims the mantle of being the first major car rental company to introduce a fleet of 100% electric vehicles. It holds a clear vision in leading the charge in green motoring solutions and promoting sustainable tourism.

Earlier this year, the company won nearly NZD 200,000 in funding under round two of the Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund as part of 15 Government initiatives to promote environmentally friendly motoring outcomes for the country with a target of doubling the number of electric vehicles every year to reach 64,000 by 2021.

The company is using the funds towards charging infrastructure and marketing costs with an intention to promote electric vehicles as vehicles of choice and significantly increase awareness around their use.

But, before you rent one…


  1. Plan, plan, plan – With the current fast-charging infrastructure in place, especially in the South Island, you must be prepared and know your real driving range capability. Even though the car may show 292 kilometres at the start of the journey, this range does not take into consideration the terrain of the roads you are driving. The more hills there are, the more range you lose and many other factors including the use of air-conditioning, head lights, wipers and Bluetooth.
  1. Charging – Depending on your range left, cars take approximately 35 to 45minutes to fully charge at a fast charge station some of which require activation via a fob (provided by Europcar). Fast charging may only take 20 to 30 minutes to complete and some are still free. ChargeNet costs 25c/minute + 25c/kWh in the North Island. Fast charge stations in the South Island are currently limited but more are being installed. Charging via a standard plug socket can take up to 18 hours (cable provided by Europcar).

Most stations encountered only had one fast charge station per location which needs to be accounted for when planning your journey, especially if there is another car on charge when you arrive. Although a car may have finished charging, you will not be able to remove the charging plug while the car is locked. Please be considerate of other electric vehicle drivers and keep an eye on your re-charge completion time.  Fast chargers tend to be near an iSite, so pop in and get some information on activities and food options about your stopover destination while you are there.

  1. Get smart – PlugShare is a great app for locating all charge stations (in case of an emergency don’t be afraid to switch on the location of the private chargers). Make sure to check in when arriving at a PlugShare, so other electric vehicle drivers can see if your car is on charge. When you leave, don’t forget to check out (and take a photo/ like), to let other users know the charge station is available.
  1. Cell-phone reception and availability – Much of your trip might involve not having any cell-phone reception which highlights the importance for forward planning. You need to be aware of the availability of charging stations and their speed well beforehand.
  1. Terrain and distance – You should also get across the terrain of roads you will be travelling in advance as well, as this can drastically affect your driving range. For example, we lost about 30 kilometres of range going five minutes of hill driving at one stage.
  1. Safety and fun – Remember safety first! Always wear your seatbelts, never drive and use your phone at the same time and always pull over if you feel symptoms of fatigue are setting in. A small nap or a short walk and a stretch can be the difference between a great trip or one of regrets. And remember to have fun! Planning getaways is exciting and driving an electric vehicle offers opportunity you might not have previously thought of. Because you have to stop more regularly on longer road trips, you’re more like to find yourself in places you perhaps wouldn’t normally, such as Hanmer Springs in Canterbury, where they use 100% pure geothermal natural mineral spring water and generate 100% of their power from their own hydro-power station.

Edited by Peter Needham

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