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Lines company Orion spending 'hundreds of thousands' on electric car chargers

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    • Town/City: Tauranga
    • Bike: Suzuki DR650 ADV, BMW R100GS
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    Christchurch property developer Tracy Gough bought this BMW i8 in March and charges it at home.

    A second provider of chargers for electric vehicles (EVs) is coming to Canterbury.

    Orion chief executive Rob Jamieson said it would install up to five fast-chargers and more standard chargers around Christchurch and surrounding areas by the end of 2016.

    The announcement comes less than two weeks after Charge.net.nz announced it would install an electric car charging station at Z Energy on Moorhouse Ave by the end of February.

    The company is installing one new station around New Zealand every two weeks, with 100 already built. Its website maps where these stations are being installed over four years.

    Jamieson said Orion’s new charging stations would cost the lines company “several hundred thousand dollars”. Its fast chargers might be installed near cafes, while slower chargers might go into car parks near shopping malls or busy parks.

    Electric vehicles were the future and Orion had taken a “build and they will come” approach, Jamieson said. It hoped to do the “seeding” for other investors considering building their own charging stations, he said.

    Orion has not yet decided its charging rate. It knew existing electric vehicle drivers could charge their cars more cheaply overnight at home but it wanted people to “have the freedom to go where they want, when they want”.

    An event for electric car owners in Christchurch’s Cathedral Square last month attracted 39 roadworthy vehicles.

    There are about 800 electric cars being driven in New Zealand with the Nissan Leaf one of the most popular models, costing about $40,000 new or $20,000 second-hand. At the top end of the market, a Christchurch BMW dealership had sold a handful, most of which were owned by property developer Tracy Gough.

    Jamieson said it felt like 80 or 90 years ago when electricity first arrived, in that no-one was sure how far or how fast electric-charging would spread.

    Orion would benefit from its electricity network being used around the clock as people charged their vehicles at night. Orion’s lines were under-used, like a single-shift factory that could do better on double-shift, Jamieson said.

    It did not expect to have a monopoly on a regional network. Chargers outside the city would be with Orion’s lines network area between the Waimakariri and Rakaia rivers.

    Orion is part of the Christchurch EV Forum including Christchurch City Council ,Meridian and Contact Energy. The group is working out the best locations for the chargers.

    The areas would need to be well lit to prevent vandalism and also sensibly spaced. The city council was not looking to put cash into the project but would probably help find parks and other public areas for charger sites, Jamieson said.

    A charger network would help drivers overcome “range anxiety” based on EVs usually only being able to go 100 to 400km without charging.

    People were reluctant to buy electric vehicles due to a fear of not being able to get home if they drove further than planned, but car makers makers would not improve the range of such vehicles unless more people bought them, Jamieson said.

    Fast chargers cost about $70,000 each and replenished batteries in 15 to 30 minutes.

    Orion would install more of the slower chargers, which cost “a fraction” of the fast ones. Orion had not decided how people would pay, but it was unlikely to be in cash. Card companies may come forward with a concept, Jamieson said.

    CCC deputy mayor Vicki Buck said she had been “hassling” Orion to set up a charging station and had been working with other electric vehicle promoters including charge.net.nz.

    From: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/75372017/lines-company-orion-spending-hundreds-of-thousands-on-electric-carchargers

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