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Published on December 21st, 2018 | by Jake Richardson


Tesla Model S Is Choice Of New Zealand Councillor — #CleanTechnica Interview

December 21st, 2018 by  

Whanganui district councillor and dental surgeon Dr. Hadleigh Reid recently purchased a Model S, one of several hundred Teslas in New Zealand. In 2017, it was reported that he and another councillor, Josh Chandulal-Mackay, were working to bring an EV charger to Whanganui. At the time, Reid said getting a charging station could enhance tourism, and bringing more visitors to the area was one of the ideas he had when he was running for office to support economic development.

Photo by Dr. Reid

Reid also had an electric Toyota MR2, which he demonstrated driving in a video he uploaded to YouTube. He answered some questions for CleanTechnica about his new Tesla Model S and one about this electric Toyota MR2.

1. Why did you choose a Tesla over the other EV options?

Because they look great, drive like a dream, have a decent range, amazing autopilot and the potential for much more with the over-the-air updates. I have been following Tesla very closely (like every day!) for about 10 years, possibly addicted, have enjoyed many articles from you guys too.

2. Is there an import fee for Teslas in New Zealand?

Not that I know of. Apart from standard Goods and Services Tax (VAT). EVs are treated like any other car.

3. Are there any tax incentives for EV buyers there?

Basically no. Diesel vehicles have to pay ‘Road User Chargers’ because there is no road tax with diesel (because most diesel is used for off-road purposed, e.g. farming) and EVs have this exempted for at least 2 more years.

4. How long have you had your Model S and what are your impressions so far?

Just on a month. I love it. I have been impressed (and I did know what to expect) with almost everything. It handles wonderfully with a low centre of gravity. Nice, quiet and peaceful driving with amazing acceleration (and I have the ‘slow’ Tesla!) I was just a little unimpressed with the range. 490km NEDC range (75D) is realistically 300km on NZs open roads (Extra-Urban) which are reasonably windy and hilly. Quoted ranges that are based primarily on urban driving are basically irrelevant now that any EV will do 100km+. I think the only time most people would be interested in knowing how far their car can go would be to see if they can drive to a far away destination, like who really who cares about ‘range’ unless it is for a decent trip on the open road?! I did have significant range anxiety for the first couple of weeks but after I bought a CHAdeMO adapter I feel much more comfortable. The NZ supercharger network is good enough, but looking forward to this expanding more.

5. Is there anything you would improve?

Range (although I could have of course paid more for a 100kwh pack) and the supercharger network. There are minor niggles that I assume will be fixed with software updates.

6. How important is it to you that it produces no tailpipe emissions?

Very important. I was inspired when I first read about the Tesla Roadster and Project Better Place 10 years ago. I was traveling to Ghana through Dubai, Israel and Egypt and realized that oil creates too many dramas in the world, so I was motivated in part due to geo-political reasons. I am also aware of the commitment NZ has made to reduce it’s carbon emissions and the government had predicted it would cost about $8b to address. I emailed some politicians a few years back asking them to commit to some serious EV infrastructure and tax ICE cars. I figured about $1b to provide the infrastructure throughout the country and tax in the right place would about do it. But we have basically done nothing and will pay billions each year for carbon credits from other countries. It was a no-brainer to me. … More recently this has come to my attention: “The 2012 Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand (HAPINZ) report (external link) found that harmful emissions from vehicles cause 256 premature deaths (with social costs of $934 million) annually in New Zealand.” I was shocked. Why are we not doing more about this in NZ?! We should be investing at least $1b a year to combat this to save the country $1b each year.

7. As a councillor, do you advocate for sustainability, including sustainable transportation?

Where I can. Local government in NZ doesn’t have that much power/control/influence. But I advocate for EVs when possible and where appropriate.

8. Do you know about how many Teslas and other EVs there are in New Zealand currently?

In September, NZ passed the 10,000 EV milestone. From what I can find, there are about 300 Teslas here. I rung Tesla and they wouldn’t tell me … told me to ring the NZ Transpost Authority, so I can do that tomorrow.

9. Do you charge mostly at home?

Yes. Most NZ households have garages so charging at home is easy. I am just using my slow charger at present until my faster one is installed. But I have averaged about 1000 kms/week, so have done a fair bit of fast charging out and about.

10. What kind of driving do you do typically, and have you taken any longer trips yet?

Small trips day-to-day but I have made plenty of big ones lately. I look for any excuse. 🙂 Currently charging on my way to Auckland (450 kms) for a 21 Pilots concert, back Saturday.

11. You converted a Toyota MR2 to electric drive. How long did that process take and do you drive it?

Most of it took about a year, I had it running by 2010. It was really fun working with a few friends but it was quite a process getting certification for the modifications and our motivation waned. All up, about 2 years. I used it around town, but sold it this year before getting my Tesla.

12. What do you think some of the common misconceptions are about EVs?

They are slow. I love taking people for a ride in my Tesla. 🙂 When I took my 2008 Nissan Skyline 370GT to the mechanics, I actually looked down to see if the handbrake was on because it seemed so slow after being in my Tesla!

Expensive. Prices coming down rapidly, especially in NZ, because we import a lot of Japanese cars so get heaps of second-hand Leafs. The new Hyundai Kona is helping.

Inconvenient. I think, generally, EVs are more convenient than ICE cars because we don’t usually have to go out of our way to ‘fill’ them up. I just park in my garage and plug in. 


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