Electric vehicle charging points in residential streets

A trial of at least 50 electric vehicle on-street charging points for residents who cannot charge up at home.

This trial encourages the uptake of electric vehicles by Wellington City residents who can’t charge on their own property. Around one in four Wellington residents cannot charge at home, which limits the adoption of electric vehicles in the capital.

On-street residential charging has not been tried anywhere else in New Zealand, so this project will help us learn how an initiative like this can work.

We’ll deliver at least 25 medium-speed charge stations in residential areas. These will be located where there are high concentrations of homes lacking parking, which is common in older, densely populated neighbourhoods, and where our hilly terrain creates gaps between homes and the road. Each site will be able to charge two cars at once. Given limited electricity supply in residential streets, it will take several hours to recharge a car, meaning cars are likely to charge overnight or for a large stretch of a day. Compact charging stations will be placed on the footpath or in a road-side bank, close to an existing electricity street pole. 

Proposed locations consultation

Between 26 June and 13 July 2018, the Council ran a public consultation on the 34 proposed residential locations for the electric vehicle chargers. Documents from the consultation can be downloaded at Traffic Resolutions – Residential electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

Decisions around the proposed locations will be made in a public meeting. The public submissions are still being reviewed and date for the public meeting has not yet been scheduled.

The proposed locations were based on:

  • Residents applying in writing to Council for an EV charger near their home.
  • A high number of homes nearby that lack off street parking.
  • Confirming electrical supply, footpath, road, and other technical characteristics of the area make installation feasible.

Time frames and costs

The first chargers are expected to be installed late 2018. Progress will be based on demand, the time it takes to evaluate and agree car park locations, and the installation process. Users will pay for electricity, with project partners covering the cost of installation.

Applying have a charger in your street

We were overwhelmed with interest, with over 80 Wellingtonians writing to Council asking for charging stations in their street. If your street is not one of the proposed locations, we are still able to take your details and put you on a wait list so we can get in contact if the trial is expanded in the future.

Email your name, phone number, and residential address (where you hope to park the car) to ElectricVehicles@wcc.govt.nz.

Who is eligible to apply for a charging station?

Residents who live within the boundary of Wellington City Council, and who can demonstrate they have no off-street car parking. This scheme is designed to make it easier for people to own an electric car when they can only park on the street. Preference will be given to homeowners over renters, and to those who don’t yet own an electric car over those who already do own one. In addition, we will look to ensure there are many other nearby homes that lack offstreet parking, so that there will be many users for the facility.

If I apply, am I assured of getting a charger?

No. The Council will look at all applications and make a decision based on installation costs, location in the city, and look to create broader benefit for city. Electricity needs to be easy for us to access. That said, there is flexibility to work to find a spot that works for you and your neighbours.

What if I don’t own an electric car, yet?

You’re our target! The scheme is aimed at helping people who don’t yet own an electric car due to a lack of a convenient place to charge. When you complete our trial application form, you will be asked to agree to purchase one. Once we are about to perform the installation we will ask for evidence that you are proceeding with your purchase.

If you do own an electric car

If you already own an electric car, you are very welcome to make an application, but we might not be able to include you in our trial, particularly if we get strong interest.

What happens if I move away or don’t end up having an electric car?

The council will not impose any action, but we would expect you to let us know of a change in circumstances at the earliest opportunity. If the charger was already installed then we would inform residents nearby to make use of the charger. If the charger was not installed then the council would decide either to reallocate the charger to another part of the city, or, consult your neighbours to see if they would make use of it.

What are the costs to buy an electric car?

Electric vehicles range considerably in cost from about $10,000 for a basic used import (search for ‘Nissan Leaf’ on Trade Me, for example), through to over $100,000 for high performance electric cars that can drive up to 500 km between charges. Selected dealers in Wellington have begun to sell used and new electric vehicles. Bear in mind that once you buy an electric car you are likely to save a lot of money each year on lower mechanical maintenance and ‘fuel’ costs.

What are the typical costs to charge an electric car?

Driving an electric car is substantially cheaper than driving a fuel car, with electricity commonly cited as costing the equivalent of 30 cents a litre.

The cheapest way to recharge a car is plugging in at home overnight and having the electricity show up on your monthly power bill. This is also very convenient as plugging in a car takes seconds, and the car is parked for hours every night, so it can slowly charge using a regular 3-pin socket or a higher power wall charger inside your home. Research shows that almost all electric vehicles in New Zealand charge routinely overnight. Providing a facility to Wellington residents who can’t charge at home is therefore important.

You can also charge your car at a public charger and these come in slow and fast types. Slow chargers suit locations where you will be parked for hours, and may be cheap or even free depending on who has set them up. Fast chargers are very expensive to install and that cost is passed onto drivers, who pay a premium for charging up in minutes rather than hours.

For general material on charging an electric car, see Energywise's electric vehicle charging information.

What are the costs?

It is expected that you will pay a fee per unit of electricity that you use. The cost of electricity will likely be higher than your home rate but still less than the equivalent cost of petrol. Once the pricing is finalised you will have the opportunity to proceed or decline to be a part of the trial.

How do I learn more about electric cars and where to charge them?

See electricvehicles.govt.nz for general information about electric vehicles. You can find many electric vehicles for sale on Trade Me and at selected dealers in Wellington. See Leading the Charge for a list of common makes and models available in New Zealand. See plugshare.com for a list of charging stations available. 

Where will the charger be positioned? 

The charger may or may not be in the same place as you currently park your car today. This will depend on where you want to park the car, where there is cheap electricity installation, and where the home owners directly affected can agree to the location.

If we cannot find a location that meets these conditions then unfortunately we will not be able to install a charger near you.

The charger will be a ground-mounted machine positioned to retain good walking access on the footpath.

What if my street lies in a residential or coupon parking zone?

If the charger is positioned within a coupon parking or residential parking zone, then you (and other users) would need to ensure they meet the conditions of those parking schemes in order to park there. In some cases we will introduce residents only parking for the electric vehicle car parks to ensure local use is not impeded by visitors and commuters.

Can other people use the charger? 

Yes, and we will try and install a machine that can charge two cars at once, so that we can encourage further uptake of electric vehicles in your street.

If the charger is positioned within a coupon parking or residential parking zone then people parking there must ensure they meet the conditions of those schemes. If the charger is positioned in a public parking space then anyone will be permitted to use that charger. We are however trying to focus on the electric car charging needs of locals living on the street rather than other groups, such as visitors or commuters parking outside your home. This is a trial, and we’ll seek feedback on how it works in practice; we may introduce rules or guidelines in the future to encourage fair use of the charger.

What will I need to use the charger?

  • A fully electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.
  •  A portable “Type 2” charging cable. (The end of the cable that plugs into the charging station is known as a ‘Type 2’ plug. The other end of the cable that plugs into your car will either be ‘Type 1’ or ‘Type 2’ depending on your car.)
  • An account with charge.net.nz. (There are no monthly charges, costs only apply for using a charger).
  •  A valid residents only permit will be needed to park in some locations. Once installed, a website and street signage will explain whether a location is an unrestricted park, or whether residents only restrictions apply during working hours or at all times.

What happens if a fuel car blocks the charger?

We will designate two car parks beside the charger as being for electric vehicles only. If a petrol-only or diesel-only vehicle parks there, then a member of the public can contact the council and the offending car could receive a parking infringement notice.

Who is paying for and managing the service?

Installation costs for trial are paid jointly by Wellington City Council, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), Charge Net NZ, and Wellington Electricity. Ongoing costs for electricity consumption and maintenance of the charging users are paid for by users charging their vehicles, with Charge Net NZ owning and managing the operation of the equipment.

How are my neighbours involved in whether a charger is installed?

Your neighbours will play an important role, especially in streets where there is pressure on carparking. Before installing a charger, the Council will run a public consultation. What your neighbours write during the consultation will influence whether the charger is installed.  If, as part of the submission process, the Council learns at least two residents in the street commit to replacing a fuel vehicle with an electric vehicle, then the decision to install a charger is more favourable. This is because both ‘electric vehicle’ car parks will get high use, avoiding a concern by other locals that there would be empty car parks they can’t use themselves.

How long will the location selecting and installation take?

We expect the process to take 6 to 18 months. The process should be faster where households beside the charger location have agreed in writing to support the initiative, and where an electricity pole is in a good location and can provide all the necessary power. Bear in mind that this scheme is a New Zealand first and aspects of the initiative may take time to work through.

What are the technical details for the chargers?

Technical details are subject to change as we implement the trial.

We are currently planning to install 7kW AC chargers or better with a ‘Type 2’ socket, which is compatible with all electric vehicles. These charges are quicker than what can be installed in most homes, which might make them easier to share.

Drivers will need to provide their own charging cable. The power level might be lowered if there are constraints at the location. To begin the recharging process, you would use a Smartphone App or hold an RFID tag up the machine. You will need to sign up for an account at charge.net.nz, which will also let you use other public chargers around the country. Your credit card would be billed once a month based on electricity used, and there will not be other monthly fees. You will be able to use your smartphone to remotely check whether the charger is currently in use or not.

Why does the council support electric vehicles?

Transport is responsible for about 60% of greenhouse gas emissions in the Wellington City. Residents who swap driving a fossil fuel car for walking, cycling, public transport, or electric vehicles will make a major contribution towards a low carbon capital city, and support our city’s contribution to reducing the impacts of climate change. Electric vehicle adoption also reduces local air and noise pollution, making our city healthier and more enjoyable to live in.

For more information about the council’s wider existing strategies in support of climate change, including promoting electric vehicle uptake, see our Low Carbon Capital programme and Wellington Resilience Strategy.

Where can I get further information?

Please contact us at ElectricVehicles@wcc.govt.nz.