Mercury today announced a partnership with global technology leader PlugShare to connect New Zealand’s growing number of electric vehicle (EV) drivers with the national network of charging points, under a single Electric Highway brand.
Mercury Chief Executive, Fraser Whineray, says the rapid uptake of EVs has seen significant investment in public charging infrastructure and greater awareness of home charging options. However, perceived “range anxiety” is holding back more rapid EV uptake due to the fragmented approach to charging infrastructure development and a disjointed customer view.
“We know from our experience as EV drivers that you only want to know one thing. Where is a charger if you need one? The Electric Highway is a universal and inclusive solution that brings everything together in one place, a free app that’s the single source of the truth. We already have more than 500 charging points registered in New Zealand and growing. “PlugShare is the No.1 charging locator app globally, and the most popular in New Zealand. The Electric Highway adds a Kiwi flavour, from the country’s unique renewable electricity position, and will help consumers and support the uptake of EVs in this country.”
Mr Whineray says the PlugShare app has been a “game-changer” internationally in providing a clear picture of charging options. “That’s what we need here in New Zealand, as we see the market mature with more demand, new EV models and more charging locations on the ground. The Electric Highway will be ultimately driven by the EV community, with user-generated intelligence that’s valuable and can be shared through the easy-to-use technology platform. “We are partnering with the best, using world-leading technology to simplify the search for drivers and give them the confidence and choice about where they can fill up on home-grown renewable energy. One solution, one app – consumers aren’t really interested in whose charging station it is, and they don’t want 10 apps on their phone for the same thing.” PlugShare’s powerful mobile app and online tool allows EV drivers to easily locate and optimise charging.
The global software and services company connects the world’s largest community of EV drivers and already includes more than 500 charging points in New Zealand and more than 100,000 around the world. Under the agreement between Mercury and PlugShare, the expanding network of charging points in New Zealand (from motorcamps and residential locations to commercial charging stations) will be brought together as the Electric Highway. The partnership has the support of EECA, and Contact Energy is also working with Mercury on the initiative through a collaborative approach to promoting and developing the Electric Highway for the benefit of New Zealand.
The lead partners are inviting other organisations to join the initiative and add their own charging points onto the Electric Highway (www.electrichighway.co.nz) via PlugShare. Vice President Strategic Initiatives at PlugShare, Ashley Horvat, is currently in New Zealand to mark the partnership: “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Mercury, and to see other organisations such as EECA and Contact Energy also championing the uptake of EVs in New Zealand,” she says. “We see New Zealand as one of the most exciting markets globally for EVs, given your outstanding position in renewable energy and New Zealand’s global reputation.
I would be amplifying this in the country’s branding. It’s a wonderful story to have behind your biggest export earner, tourism, and should be helpful in bringing people to New Zealand.” Contact Energy Chief Executive, Dennis Barnes, says Contact is a keen supporter of initiatives that increase the use of electric vehicles: “Our collaboration on the Electric Highway, the installation of chargers at our sites and the growing use of EVs within our own business is about us playing our part to encourage an increased use of EVs across the country.”
Mr Whineray says the logic of EVs in New Zealand is clear, given the country’s renewable electricity supply that is the envy of other countries around the world. “EV ownership is only going one way in New Zealand, and that’s up. This is New Zealand’s greatest green-growth opportunity. It’s very hard to argue with home-grown fuel at the equivalent of 30 cents per litre, no tailpipe emissions, reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels and helping preserve our hard-earned export dollars,” says Mr Whineray. Mercury will keep Kiwis updated with the Electric Highway’s progress and has plans to double the number of charging points available to over 1,000 within the next 12 months.