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By Simon Edwards.

Wellington region electric vehicle owners – and others keen to plug-in to the environment-friendly transport trend – are being invited to a get-together in Upper Hutt this Sunday.

The drivers will visit Efil Doog Garden of Art, Eco Park, where the new owners Paul and Glenda Arnold are keen electrical vehicle advocates and own a Nissan Leaf themselves.

Mark Walkington, whose day job is as an economic advisor with Transpower, said the event will only be small scale.

“The current regional record for EVs in one place is a number you can count on one hand …..but we may get to double figures.”

Walkington said there were about 850 electric vehicles in New Zealand but those numbers have stated to grow now that the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) is available new , including from Upper Hutt’s Gething Mitsubishi.

The Nissan Leaf is also selling in some numbers as three-year-old used imports from Japan, for about $20,000, he said.

The vehicles joining the December 6 rally will all have to charge up at home before the trip as Upper Hutt has yet to develop public charging facilities. At Hutt City Council, where Mayor Ray Wallace has one of the Mitubishi SUV PHEVs as his mayoral car, his charging point outside the council building is also available to other EV drivers.

“In many developed countries public charging for electric vehicles is widely available and this is now starting to be seen in Auckland – the Wellington region has been rather slow off the mark with this,” Walkington said.

However, Z Energy has said it will be bringing EV charging points to Z service stations in Wellington and Petone soon and electric vehicles will be a more common sight on our streets now that Wellington Electricity’s entire fleet is comprised of  EVs.

Walkington said he has been driving an Outlander PHEV for 18 months now, and started a Facebook page.

The EV owners’ trip leaves from the field on Criterion Lane, adjacent to Upper Hutt VTNZ and Expressions, at 10am on Sunday.

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