By Rob McEwen.

The EVolocity programme, which features a high school competition in which teams design & build their own electric vehicles, as well as an end of year event at Ruapuna Motorsport Park in Christchurch showcasing electric vehicles and smart energy solutions, has just concluded its second year and is looking to expand into new regions in 2016.

“With the high school programme, our goal is to draw more youth into science, technology & engineering, and show them that there are actions they can take and decisions they can make that will be part of the solution to climate change,” says EVolocity’s Executive Director Rob McEwen.

Teams are equipped with an electric componentry kit and a set of year end challenges, with categories including performance, innovation, show, and community awareness. During the year, the students receive mentoring via weekend Build Camps where they can access tertiary engineering tutors as well as electric vehicle specialists. Each team is also assigned a mentor from the engineering industry.

Young people are attracted to EVolocity for the following reasons:

  • It’s future focused (not my father’s car)
  • They are challenged to build an electric vehicle to compete against those of other teams
  • It involves a mixture of challenges and builds real skills in a mentored environment
  • They can work with friends in a team situation
  • It’s fun
  • They are concerned about climate change
  • The lure of competition in a motorsport environment

EVolocity is licensing its programme to partners in Waikato, Otago and possibly Southland in 2016. The aim is to have EVolocity in high schools throughout New Zealand, but with limited resources we must take a cautious approach to growth.

The Ruapuna event featured opportunities for the public to test drive electric vehicles, as well as to see high performance electric vehicles like the Tesla take on Corvettes, Ferraris and more. The way to sell electric vehicles is to get people in them, and that 140 test drives were offered on the day, with more public demand than vehicles available to drive. Exit polls on the day indicated that 38% of those who attended may consider buying a plug in car over the next 12 months, while 15% may consider buying an electric bike or scooter – a great result.

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