Westpac New Zealand replaces 30% of its fleet with electric cars

Westpac are leading the charge in New Zealand with their efforts towards developing a more environmentally friendly fleet. Reciently they welcomed the arrival of 65 new electric and plug-in hybrid cars as it gears up to meet a target of almost 100 electric cars by the end of 2019.

As one of the early adopters of the clean EV technology, Westpac first added three electric vehicles (EVs) in late 2016 before committing to convert 30% of their fleet by 2019. The cars will be sent to Westpac branches and offices ranging from Albany to Invercargill from May 2018.

Overall, the corporate sector has committed to using more than 1,450 electric vehicles by the end of 2019. These will eventually make their way into the used car market at a much lower purchase price than a new EV.

Accompanying the introduction of the cars to the fleet is the largest corporate charger installation in New Zealand.

Learn more about Westpac's great new EV fleet

Key facts

  • A total of 30% of Westpac’s fleet cars will be electric or plug-in hybrid by the end of 2019.
  • This will remove almost 200 tonnes of carbon emissions annually – the equivalent of taking about 39 cars off the road.
  • In 2017 Kiwis purchased 546 fully electric cars in NZ, up 860% from 2016.
  • Electric vehicles use electricity at the equivalent of 30c per litre, have no tailpipe emissions and reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels.
  • More than 30 NZ organisations have committed to 30% of their fleets being electric by 2019.
  • This represents a total corporate sector commitment of more than 1,450 vehicles by 2019.

Frequently Asked Questions

 What are Electric Vehicles (EVs)?

Conventional cars burn petrol or diesel in an internal combustion engine, turning the wheels and moving the vehicle. Electric cars use electric motors to partially or entirely replace the internal combustion engine. Instead of supplying all the fuel from a fuel tank, electric-drive vehicles use batteries to supply electricity for the motor.

All of the EVs joining Westpac’s fleet are either Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) or Parallel Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) like the Hyundai IONIQ PHEV. A BEV is run 100% on battery and does not use petrol. A PHEV uses a combination of battery and petrol to run the car. PHEVs use battery first then switch seamlessly to petrol if the battery has no charge left.

 What are the environmental impacts of electric vehicles?

EVs have the potential to reduce the emissions and pollution from cars, trucks and buses. If the electricity on which they run is produced by renewable energy, EVs are virtually emission free. However, if an electric-drive vehicle is charged primarily using electricity generated from coal, its carbon footprint is only slightly better than the average petrol vehicle and is significantly worse than a good hybrid.

Promisingly though, around 80%¹ of the electricity generated in New Zealand comes from renewable energy sources such as hydropower, geothermal power and increasingly wind energy, providing energy independence and supporting the local economy. 100% of the electricity Westpac will be using to charge the vehicles on site will be from renewable sources.

As the majority of New Zealand’s electricity comes from renewable resources, replacing petrol and diesel vehicles is a good way for the country to reduce its carbon footprint. A Life Cycle Analysis report commissioned by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) in 2015² found that EVs are better for the New Zealand environment than petrol or diesel powered vehicles, across the lifecycle of the vehicle as well as in use.



What about the resources needed to build the batteries and what happens to
the batteries at the end of their life?

While EVs do contain rare earth materials in small amounts (as do most petrol and diesel vehicles), the 2015 EECA study findings¹ show that the resource depletion impact of rare earth metals was not a significant issue.

The lithium salts used in lithium-ion batteries for current EVs on the market are neither a rare earth nor a precious metal. Extracting lithium does not require strip mining or blasting. Lithium is found in ‘salar brines’ or underground reservoirs and is pumped to the surface, stored in large surface ponds and left to dry in the sun. Lithium carbonate is left behind. This is then processed into lithium. The companies that extract lithium have strict environmental management systems in place and comply with ISO Standards.

The batteries in modern EVs contain no heavy metals, nor any toxic materials, and could be disposed of by putting them in a landfill. Rather than landfill the batteries, when they have reached their useful life in a vehicle, EV batteries still have 70-80% of their capacity, and can be repurposed for highly valuable uses such as stationary storage (e.g. power storage for domestic solar installations).




 Is there infrastructure to support EV charging?

Most people drive less than 29kms a day, and 90% of all journeys are under 90km¹, well within the range of most electric vehicles, and EVs can be recharged overnight at home, using a standard 3- point plug. The network of public infrastructure is growing quickly thanks to government grants and corporate investment. These chargers are often located in convenient locations like supermarkets and shopping centre carparks, so that you can use them to give your batteries a boost if needed. Visit Plug Share for a location of a charger near you.



 How far can EVs go on a single charge?

The range, or the distance an electric car can travel on a single charge or fill up, is constantly increasing with technological improvements. The range of battery electric cars on the market today varies from about 100 to more than 400 kilometres (For example, the Kona EV). Greater range for battery cars tends to come with higher costs because the vehicle requires a larger battery pack.

The Hyundai Ioniq cars Westpac is using for our fleet have a range of around 200 kilometres per full charge, which is enough for an average day on the road without recharging. Temperature and driving style can also significantly affect how far the electric car can go on a single charge. A driver who speeds or who needs heat to stay warm or air conditioning to cool off will experience a smaller range.