Electric car sharing scheme for Dunedin?

waitati-haagen-charging-his-evIn 2016 VCW members and other interested parties submitted two applications to EECA – the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority – which had a new $4 million  ‘Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund’. This has been established by the Government to co-fund initiatives that will help address the country’s transport emissions and make the most of our renewably generated electricity. In 2017  the fund will grow to $6 million.

The fund was heavily subscribed and our applications were unsuccessful, however, the process led us to form new partnerships and have lots of useful conversations. We’d love to progress these projects, even without the funding. If you have ideas how we could do this, we’d love to hear from you!

One of our applications was for a feasibility study for an EV sharing scheme in Dunedin, in partnership with the Otago Regional Council, Dunedin City Council and Otago Polytechnic. Car sharing schemes overseas commonly involve swipe-card access to a shared fleet of vehicles. Users just pay for the time they have the car. They have been shown to reduce car traffic, support active and public transport, and save money. In Dunedin, we’d like to see such a scheme well-integrated with active and public transport.

VCW’s low carbon transport focus was highlighted in a second application to the EECA fund. Paul Cardno from Makerspace and Rosemary Penwarden from VCW (who both live in Waitati) teamed up with Mark Brown, Waikouaiti Coast Community Board member and owner of Blueskin Nurseries, to form WECAn (Waitati Electric Car Association), and applied for funding for a demonstration car-share project in Waitati.

Waitati residents live 20 km for the city. They have their own hitching bay on State Highway One, ride share as often as they can and have a growing electric car ownership. Electric bikes sales are booming! But many can’t afford their own e-car and others are not yet convinced of the need to move off fossil fuels asap. The EECA Fund was an opportunity to demonstrate this technology to a village already in the throes of change to a low carbon system.

As you approach Waitati from State Highway One, the first thing you notice is a rooftop covered in 40 solar panels – nothing exceptional for Europe but still unusual for New Zealand. Blueskin Nurseries powers the bulk of its business plus an adjoining business on solar electricity, and, although Waitati lost its petrol pumps years ago, they have Dunedin’s first electric car charging station. You can call in for coffee while you charge. So Blueskin Nurseries is an ideal site for a demonstration e-car, and if funded, the project will provide valuable on-the-ground research data for the proposed VCW feasibility study.