To support New Zealand’s EV uptake and sustainable business practice, Downer is integrating EVs into its operations.

We have switched two ICEs for EVs for the Hamilton Infrastructure Alliance network inspector cars, and added an EV pool car at the Auckland and Wellington offices.

Reasons behind the introduction of EVs

Because of New Zealand’s comparatively use of high renewable and good off-street parking capacity this country is in a unique position to ‘drive’ the uptake of EVs. This is a great fit with Downer’s focus on multi-modal and alternative transport solutions for our clients, our staff and our country.

“As one of New Zealand’s leading road maintenance contractors, we are challenging ourselves to implement smarter infrastructure services,” says CEO Cos Bruyn. “We helped build this country, and now it’s important that we deliver smarter and more sustainable transport solutions.”

When did Downer start the EV initiative?

The first EVs were brought into the Downer fleet in July 2015, with Nissan Leafs in Hamilton and Auckland. The success of the EV pool car was then taken up by the Wellington team a few months later.

What type of EVs do Downer use?

Downer has four Nissan Leaf Gen2 EVs and one Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. The PHEV is required for a driver in our RoadScience team as he is covering greater distances. The Leaf has sufficient range for operation around the urban environment and works very well as a pool and inspector vehicle.

How did Downer Employees react to the vehicles?

Our employees were initially cautious, with concerns around range, power and safety – particularly around pedestrians and small children due to the lack of engine noise. They reported being pleasantly surprised by how smooth the car is to drive. Range anxiety remains a concern, but they have noted the increasing number of charging points at malls and thought that range would no longer be an issue if fast charging stations were introduced at fuel stations.

Any reaction you’ve had from your customers or the public in general…

Industry partners recognisze that we each have an important part to play in the EV uptake initiative. Without financial incentives there is a barrier to entry due to vehicle residual values. The more cars corporates can bring into the second hand market, the more appealing they will be to private users. Industry partners like Westpac, MRP, Vector, FH and Wel are all onboard and support our proactive approach to getting EVs on the road. Clients like Auckland Transport, Wellington City Council and Hamilton City Council are very supportive of the initiatives and the efforts Downer have made to generate interest in Electric Vehicles.

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