Andrew Dickens: Real reason EVs aren't taking off

Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 23 January 2019, 12:44PM
Photo / Getty Images

It was a very entertaining morning listening to our breakfast host lose a significant part of his rag over the well-meaning twaddle that comes out of the clean green mob.

It started early just after the 6.30am news, when a hapless solar power enthusiast got a little casual with his language. He called an increase in sales of electric vehicles a “rapid uptake”.

🠶 Mike's Minute: Why the lobbyists are wrong about EVs

Mike wasn’t having that. Electric Vehicle fleet numbers in New Zealand are still around 12,000.  Yes, that’s doubled but from a low base. He doesn’t call that a rapid uptake.

That said to go from 6000 last year, to 12,000 this year is still not nothing.  And if you stuck those 12,000 vehicles in a line at a service station waiting for a fill up you wouldn’t call that a line little.

So let’s just get accurate and call it what it is. It’s two per cent of our fleet that has been chosen by people because it fits their needs and outlooks and on the whole, all the EV owners feel very satisfied with their decision.

It’s become an issue because yesterday, the government announced an $11 million increase in funding to support the EV fleet lifting their total commitment to around $60 million.

What’s interesting about that is the funding of recharge stations around the country and the increase in funding will provide recharge stations in more remote locations like right through the MacKenzie Country and up to Mount Cook.

I, like Mike, wonder why the funding of recharge stations is the taxpayers' responsibility. When cars took over from horses did the government fund service stations? If the EV industry can’t fund its own basic infrastructure then that’s a worry for its sustainability.

One could say the same of public transport which cannot fund itself by fares alone. However, the governmental subsidies public transport receives is an investment that saves on the productivity costs. If everyone abandoned public transport and used their own transport, this country would grind to a halt.  I don’t think there’s the same imperative with EV charging stations.

And the new age of renewable energy transport has to be able to stand on its own feet.

I’ll give you an example, everyone knows I’m a bike riding hipster who’s used bicycles to commute with since I was 10.  I love the freedom from congestion and the freedom from parking hassles.  For journeys of five to 10 kilometres, I am substantially quicker than a car and it's fun

So you’d think that I would be a prime contender for the electric bicycle revolution. Yet recently when faced with the need to get another form of transport due to a household capacity issue I did not buy an electric bike.

Instead, I bought an emission belching, two-stroke, 50cc scooter, which, by the way, I’m loving. Why? Well, I picked up a doozy for $2000. To get a decent electric bike I’d have to spend considerably more than that. If I could have found a $1000 electric bike I would have been in like Flynn.

So a message to the renewable energy transport people. 

It’s not happening until the cost of the clean vehicles is no more than the dirty ones.  And that’s not the government’s responsibility.  It’s the people who make the things in the first place.

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