BMW is investing in growing uptake of electric vehicles in New Zealand, entering into a partnership arrangement with Charge Net NZ to develop a national EV charging network that will stretch around the country.

Funds for the initiative are coming via BMW AG in Munich.

The BMW-Charge Net “Electric Highway” will be centred on NZ’s major cities and will enable an EV to drive around the country using a network of DC fast-charge stations stretching from Kaitaia to Invercargill.

Over 100 DC stations are expected to be in place by the end of 2017, and partner Charge Net NZ already has 20 fast-charging stations in operation.

The private company commenced installing chargers designed and manufactured by Brisbane company Tritium in mid-2015.

Ironically, while the technology is being produced in Australia, the nation currently has only one EV highway – comprising a 12-station network in south-western WA. There are also solo stations installed by companies including Tritium and Tesla in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Port Macquarie, Canberra and other key locations.

BMW New Zealand managing director Florian Renndorfer said the company was “committed to shaping the mobility of this century and the next 100 years”.

He said the support for the NZ initiative will enable owners of the company’s own BMW i3 EV “the option to break out of their normal urban driving environment and tackle long distances”.

All EV owners will be able to fast-charge their cars at the stations using a debit-card style co-branded BMW-Charge Net NZ Charge Now card. Charging takes around 30 minutes to take the battery to 80 per cent capacity.

Charge Net NZ chief executive Steve West said electrification was the future of the NZ vehicle fleet.

“BMW’s generous support is helping Charge Net NZ secure this future for New Zealand and it’s fantastic to see such a commitment to developing Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure in New Zealand,” Mr West said.

Mr West said New Zealand was one of the most electric vehicle-ready countries in the world, with 80 per cent of the country’s electricity generated from renewable sources. Charge Net NZ is providing 100 per cent renewable energy into their charging stations.

The NZ government is backing the EV trend as part of reducing the nation’s carbon emissions, with transport one of the largest contributors to the national footprint. The government has set a target of doubling the number of electric vehicles in NZ every year to reach 64,000 by 2021.

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