EV campervans ready to roll

Tourists looking to explore New Zealand will soon be able to do so in a more sustainable manner. Rental company Jucy will be launching their first fleet of fully electric rental campervans this month.

The zero-emission campervans, which were locally designed and manufactured in Auckland, were created to meet the growing demand for more sustainable tourism transport options for international visitors.

Jucy CEO Tim Alpe says the new campervans are the first of a much larger and longer range, new EV fleet to be developed as a result of a successful nationwide trial involving French eco-tourists.

Last year, a five-month trial was carried out using a prototype electric-powered campervan. Two tourists drove more than 13,000km to 45 destinations across New Zealand recording data on the cost and availability of charging infrastructure as well as local attitudes towards, and awareness of, EVs.

The trial found it was feasible for tourists to traverse the country but identified some gaps in the fast-charging network in parts of the South Island. Alpe says these have since been addressed with the new longer range batteries and redesigned interiors.

"The trial was a real-world proof of concept for us; two visiting Parisian tourists were able to navigate all ends of the country in our specially designed EV campervan.

"We have since been able to analyse the data from their experience and incorporate it into the new vehicles, which have lighter weight interiors and can travel significantly longer on a single charge.

"This allows tourists to travel up to 180-200km - around twice as long as the prototype - with each charge," he says.

The fully self-contained vehicles are equipped with a roof-top solar panel which charges a secondary or domestic battery while driving, a router for wireless internet, device charging ports, an electric blanket for the sleeping area, induction cooking, and also come with a mobile app that will advise the tourist when their battery levels are low and plot a course to the nearest fast-charging facility.

Alpe says the production of the first EV campervans was made possible in part by funding from EECA’s contestable low emission vehicles fund.

He says the self-contained vehicles will rent at approximately the same daily cost as their new ICE models but at the equivalent of about 30 cents per litre and will have a fraction of the running costs; savings which will make it less expensive for tourists to travel around NZ.

"Ultimately if we can switch as many tourists from an expensive imported commodity such as petrol or diesel to a low cost, renewable energy source, that allows them to inject that additional disposable income from their travel budget into other parts of the New Zealand economy.

"Since our trial last year, a number of tourism operators and regional towns have seen the potential opportunity around EV travellers and invested in new charging infrastructure in the hope of attracting more visitors using this mode of transport.

"Each battery charge would take around 40-60 minutes at a rapid charge station - which is additional time tourists will spend in many of our provincial town centres or attractions.

"If we aggregate that additional time and spend over thousands of visitors annually, it is a significant win for our regions, our environment and the country’s brand image," says Alpe.

He says the vehicles will be available to book this month and will be on New Zealand roads from July of this year.

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