Best Electric Cars 2022: A Guide to Buying an Electric Car & Hybrids in New Zealand

Best Electric Cars 2022: A Guide to Buying an Electric Car & Hybrids in New Zealand

Best Electric Cars 2022: A Guide to Buying an Electric Car & Hybrids in New Zealand

Our guide explains everything you need to know to buy the right electric car at the best price

from moneyhub

Best Electric Cars NZ

Updated 15 March 2022

Know This First: Government Rebate for Electric Vehicles

  • Drivers who buy new cars from July 1 2021 will get taxpayer-funded rebates of $8,625 for new battery electric vehicles and $3,450 for used vehicles. Hybrid vehicles are also eligible for rebates ($5,750 for new vehicles, $2,300 for used vehicles).
  • Per the NZTA's guidelines, vehicles with a purchase price of $80,000 or more (including GST and on-road costs) and those with less than a 3-star safety rating (as published on the Rightcar website) will not be eligible for a discount (rebate).
  • Applying for the rebate: From 1 July 2021, you can apply for a rebate on the NZTA website after the vehicle is registered and allocated a number plate. More details are outlined here.
  • You can view a useful chart of the 2022 Clean Air Program here.

Our guide to Electric Cars
Our comprehensive guide is designed to explain what's important when considering buying an electric car, while aligning your choice to match your unique needs and lifestyle. We feature four of the best electric cars available right now in New Zealand, based on variable budgets and requirements.

Our Electric Car guide covers:

  1. Hybrid Electric Vehicles (also known as HEVs)
  2. Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (also known as PHEVs)
  3. Battery Electric Vehicles (also known as BEVs)

Experienced electric car owner? Do you have experiences with electric cars that you would like to share? E-mail our research team.

Best Electric Cars NZ

What makes an electric car different from its fossil-based counterparts?

​An Electric Vehicle (EV) works with electric batteries and thus does not require an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE). This means tha for battery-powered electric vehicles, there's no oil, grease, petrol and carbon emissions. However, some historical information is important to build an understanding:

  • The term “Electric Vehicle” was intentionally misused by carmakers from the beginning in favour of simplifying the implementation and wide acceptance of this revolutionary technology.
  • While it is true that the first electric vehicles appeared in the 19th century, it was not until recently that growing concern for the environment prompted automakers to use an alternative energy source other than fossil fuels.
  • The problem with the adoption of electric vehicles has always been essentially the same. Fossil fuels are extremely cheap to produce.  Add the fact that no other energy source has a global distribution network like that of fossil fuels, and only then you realize the magnitude of the problem that EV technology has to face.
  • This explains why the first "electric vehicles" of our era were actually "hybrids" that mixed both technologies and (for marketing reasons) were presented to us as eco-friendly EV vehicles.

In summary, what we know today as electric vehicles actually group different technologies (or EV categories if you like), that seek reducing carbon emissions. We explain these in the next section.

Best Electric Cars NZ

Types of electric vehicles

In New Zealand, there are three types of electric vehicles, classified according to the way they use fossil fuels in their design

1. ​Hybrid Electric Vehicles (also known as HEVs) - an example being a Toyota Prius. 

These types of vehicles are not fully electric, but neither are they entirely based on fossil fuels. They are hybrids. HEVs’ powertrains are like a partnership between an internal combustion engine and a battery-powered electric motor. On hybrid vehicles, the petrol engine is still in charge of most of the workload, however, the assistance of electric motors under low load conditions greatly reduces fuel consumption. To give you a perspective, all things being equal (make, model, year, equipment and accessories), a hybrid engine can consume half the fuel than its conventional counterpart.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles Highlights

  • They use both a fuel tank and a battery pack as they combine both power sources
  • The vehicle’s computer alternates between the ICE and the battery-powered motors depending on the driving conditions
  • Under high load conditions (acceleration, hill climbing, hauling, etc.) the internal combustion engine delivers the necessary power to the vehicle
  • Under low load conditions (traffic, idling, low-speed cruising, etc.) the battery-powered electric motors deliver the necessary power to the vehicle
  • The battery is charged using the internal combustion engine (through an integrated generator) or by "regenerative braking" that uses the electric motors of the wheels as generators to reduce vehicle speed and "recycle" thermal energy than otherwise would be wasted

Hybrid Electric Vehicles - What We Like

  • It’s an established technology with nearly two decades of proven reliability and durability
  • They cut fuel consumption to half
  • HEVs let you use your car as you usually do, without changing your routine

Hybrid Electric Vehicles, What We Dislike

  • They still produce a noticeable carbon footprint
  • Higher upfront costs due to the additional technology included
  • Less power than a conventional fuel-powered equivalent due to its smaller engine

Best Electric Cars NZ

2. Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (also known as PHEVs) - an example being a Kia Niro.

You can think of PHEVs as being an evolution of conventional hybrid vehicles. While it is true that PHEVs still operate by means of a small internal combustion engine and a battery-powered electric motor, it is also true that they use them in a completely different way. Hybrid vehicles switch to electric motors in order to reduce fuel consumption during certain driving conditions. On the other hand, plug-in hybrids normally operate on electric mode and use the ICE to recharge the batteries or get a little boost if needed. In other words, HEVs operate primarily in gasoline mode, while PHEVs primarily use electric motors, and ICE's role is to recharge batteries and assist them only when absolutely necessary. One aspect introduced by PHEV technology is the fact that they can recharge their batteries by plugging into a standard household electrical outlet and/or a dedicated 220v or 240v recharging outlet.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles Highlights

  • Similar to HEVs, they use both a fuel tank and a battery pack as they combine both power sources
  • The vehicle’s computer alternates between the internal combustion engine and the battery-powered motors depending on the driving conditions
  • If needed, under high load conditions (acceleration, hill climbing, hauling, etc.) the internal combustion engine may assist the electric motors
  • Under normal driving conditions, the vehicle runs on electric mode
  • The battery is charged by either using the internal combustion engine (through an integrated generator), by "regenerative braking" or by plugin the vehicle into a standard household outlet

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles - What We Like

  • Similar to HEVs use a proven technology which provides reliable power to the car
  • Depending on the model, they could provide better fuel efficiency than HEVs
  • HEVs let you use your car as you usually do, without changing your routine

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles - What We Dislike

  • Currently, there is a debate regarding PHEVs’ emissions that might even put them out of the market in the near future
  • Plug-in batteries are more expensive than HEVs hence their upfront cost is higher
  • During commuting and/or long trips, the gasoline engine can be left in charge since once the batteries are discharged, the vehicle loses its electric mode. This situation would produce even higher CO2 emissions and fuel consumption than conventional engines due to the added weight of the battery pack.​

Best Electric Cars NZ

3. Battery Electric Vehicles (also known as BEVs) - examples being the BMW i3, Telsa 3 and Nissan Leaf.

Last but not least, you have all-electric cars (aka Pure-EVs or simply EVs), the only category that exclusively relies on electric motors to run the vehicle. Since BEVs does not require an internal combustion engine, they are often called “zero-emission vehicles”. Current BEVs use state-of-the-art battery packs to deliver the necessary power to the electric motors located at the wheels. Thanks to its groundbreaking technology and incredible efficiency, newer BEVs’ performance is finally on par with conventional ICEs.

In order to recharge the batteries, BEVs use either regenerative braking or electricity from an external source. Depending on BEV’s battery technology, and their allowed charging speed, EV chargers are classified as:

  • Level 1. Similar to PHEVs, level 1 chargers use a standard 230/240v household outlet to charge the electric vehicle. Most carmakers provide a basic charging unit with the vehicle that is able to charge the equivalent of approximately 8 km of range per hour.
  • Level 2. These are specialized charging stations usually found at workplaces and public charging stations. Their charge rate varies between 19 and 95 km of range per hour depending on the charging station, the battery pack size and battery technology.
  • Level 3. These units commonly called “DC fast-charging stations” use Direct Current (DC) instead of Alternating Current (AC) as the other chargers. The charge rate of level 3 chargers allow them to recharge a battery to the equivalent of 145 km of range in just 30 minutes.

Battery Electric Vehicles Highlights

  • Goodbye fuel tank. BEVs work 100% on batteries
  • They are better for the environment than any other type of electric car
  • Lastest BEVs deliver higher power output than their ICE counterpart, proof of it are all-electric hypercars like the 1,500 kW ASPARK OWL or the 1,342 kW DENDROBIUM D1
  • Fully-electric cars have zero emissions
  • The battery pack is charged either using “regenerative braking” or by charging the vehicle using a Level 1, 2, or 3 station.

Battery Electric Vehicles - What We Like

  • They use cutting-edge technology to offer a zero-emissions, 100% electric vehicle
  • Cheaper to maintain than HEV or PHEV vehicles
  • Did we mention that battery electric vehicles are better for the environment?

Battery Electric Vehicles - What We Dislike

  • Electric fuelling stations are still in its infancy. While you'll see them in Auckland, Wellington and other cities, it can be a struggle to get access. This can limit using the car for a long trip
  • Since fully-electric technology is still under active development, BEVs require highly-trained technicians to service them
  • While it is true that carmaker Tesla is about to introduce “a million-mile battery”, truth is current EVs batteries are highly toxic and its safe disposal is still a great challenge

Best Electric Cars NZ

How much does an electric vehicle cost in New Zealand?

​Even when EVs only represent a small amount of New New Zealand's vehicle fleet, you have plenty of options to choose from.

Expected costs:

  • Depending on the year, make, and model, a used EV could cost you as low as $8,000. For instance, a used 2012 Nissan Leaf in good condition might cost you $8,000-$10,500
  • Regarding Hybrid Electric Vehicles, depending on trim level and other options, a 2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid could cost you between $40,000-$45,000+
  • Interested in buying a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle? Depending on options selected, a BMW i3 can cost you over $80,000 while a Kia Niro may cost you $70,000-$75,000
  • If what you look for is a pure-EV vehicle, a Tesla Model 3 could cost you approximately $80,000 while a 2020 Nissan Leaf could cost you around $60,000

Understand upfront vs ongoing costs

  • Although many people focus on EVs upfront cost, another key factor to consider is running costs of owning an electric vehicle.
  • According to the New Zealand Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority (EECA), electric vehicles are much cheaper to run than petrol or diesel vehicles. The EECA calculated that the approximate fuel running cost of an EV is the equivalent of paying $0.30/L, which is considerably lower than its ICE counterpart.

Best Electric Cars NZ

What type of electric car is the best for me?

Similar to buying a conventional vehicle, choosing the “perfect EV” depends on dozens of different aspects ranging from styling, passenger capacity, budget, vehicle size, and more. However, focusing exclusively on their “technical features”, we have prepared a checklist that hopefully will assist you in making a decision.

  • Best for regular trips or long-distance commuting: HEVs
  • Best for heavy traffic: BEVs
  • Best for towing: PHEVs
  • Best for the environment: BEVs
  • Best for low running costs: BEVs
  • Best for first EV vehicle: PHEVs
  • Best for mid-distance travelling or commuting: PHEVs
  • Best upfront cost: HEVs
  • Best fuel economy (petrol-based): PHEVs
  • Best for multi-purpose usage: PHEVs
  • Best for long all-electric range: BEVs
  • Best power per litre: PHEVs (mixed) BEVs (overall)
  • Best for long-term vehicle: BEVs

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

For most models, it will be between 30 minutes (top up) or more than 8 hours (full charge). A typical electric car (60kWh battery) takes around 7-8 hours to charge from empty-to-full with a 7kW charging point. But most electric car drivers top up their battery rather than charge from empty-to-full. A half-hour charge can give many electric cars 100km to 150km of range. Before buying an electric car, make sure you know the battery size and recharge time.

Where can I find electric car charging stations?

There are hundreds over New Zealand, but many smaller towns and cities have a single station. This map outlines all the options

How far does an electric car go on a single charge?

It depends on the model. The Volkswagen e-Golf has a range of around 195 km. Other models include the Nissan Leaf (220 km), BMW i3 (273 km), and Hyundai Ioniq (190 km). The Tesla 3 can travel around 600 km. UK data suggests 'official range' and actual range differ.

Best Electric Cars NZ

​Four of the Best Electric Cars Available in New Zealand Right Now

​Choosing the best electric vehicle currently available in New Zealand is not an easy task. We have compiled our list (in no particular order) based on average consumer reviews, data from the EECA website and other sources, both in New Zealand and overseas.

No electric car manufacturer or brand has paid to appear on this list, and has no relationship with any company listed below.

Electric Cars NZ compare

Nissan Leaf

​The Nissan Leaf is definitely a good option for anyone looking for an affordable yet reliable EV in New Zealand. Being arguably one of the best-selling electric vehicles worldwide, you have plenty of options to choose from (both used and new).

Nissan Leaf Main Features:

  • Technology: Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)
  • Acceleration (0-100 Km/h): 7.4 seconds
  • Estimated range: 270 km
  • Battery capacity: 40 kWh
  • Available fast-charging stations in NZ: Yes
  • Average price: from $59,990 (new), from $8,000 (used)

Official Website: Nissan New Zealand

Nissan Leaf NZ

Electric Cars NZ compare

Tesla Model 3

If you want a high-performance fully-electric vehicle with an outstanding autonomy range then look no further, the Tesla Model 3 is all you need. Tesla offers its full line of vehicles in New Zealand, but alternatively, if you are in a budget, you can easily find many used options.

Tesla Model 3 Main Features:

  • Technology: Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)
  • Acceleration (0-100 Km/h): 3.4 seconds
  • Estimated range: 560 km
  • Battery capacity: 54 kWh
  • Available fast-charging stations in NZ: YES
  • Average price: from $69,000

Official Website: Telsa New Zealand

Tesla Model 3 NZ

Electric Cars NZ compare

Hyundai IONIQ Series II

The Hyundai Ioniq is an amazing car offering a lot of convenient features. Arguably one of the most interesting aspects of the IONIQ is that it is the first automobile to be offered in hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric variants. So if you are undecided about which technology to choose, the IONIQ Series II might be a good starting point.

Hyundai IONIQ Series II Main Features:

  • Technology: Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV), Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), or Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)
  • Acceleration (0-100 Km/h): 8.9 seconds
  • Estimated range: 47 km (plug-in hybrid), 311 km (all-electric)
  • Battery capacity: 1.56 kWh (hybrid), 8.9 kWh (plug-in hybrid), 38.3 kWh (all-electric)
  • Available fast-charging stations in NZ: Yes
  • ​Average price: from $46,990 (new Hybrid), from $53,990 (new Plug-In), from $65,990 (new fully-electric), approximately from $45,000 (Plug-In used)

Official website: Hyundai New Zealand

Hyundai IONIQ Series II NZ

Electric Cars NZ compare

BMW i3

This list won’t be complete without including the fabulous BMW i3. Make no mistake, while it is true that the BMW i3 it’s comparatively smaller in size than most EVs it equally true that it packs the comfort, performance, style, and reliability you can expect from the German automaker. Depending on your budget, this could be the perfect car for environmentally-minded college students.

BMW i3 Main Features:

  • Technology: Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)
  • Acceleration (0-100 Km/h): 7 seconds
  • Estimated range: up to 246 km depending on the model
  • Battery capacity: 42.2 kWh
  • Available fast-charging stations in NZ: Yes
  • Average price: from $76,900 (new), from $35,000 (used)

Official website: BMW New Zealand

About the Author

Volta Automotive Ltd which imports and sells Electric Vehicles and Hybrids Car dealers New Zealand and Australia can list and sell on our website

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