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Plug-in vehicle comes to Hawke’s Bay

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Hawke’s Bay lines company, Unison Networks Limited, has this week commenced a one-month trial of a third generation Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle, to gain insight into the usage patterns and preferences of plug-in electric vehicle users, whilst evaluate the impact of connection and charging on the network and electricity supply chain.

Hawke’s Bay Toyota has offered Unison the use of the plug-in hybrid, which is not currently available on the market. The vehicle is one of only three in New Zealand, with the other two vehicles currently at Massey University.

The third generation Prius features a larger battery, which can be charged from a fifteen-amp socket. In ‘electric only’ mode, the car has an approximate travel distance of 20-30 kilometres and runs the same as conventional vehicles, with a top speed of 100km. In fuel-only mode, drivers can expect the same performance as any normal internal combustion car.

"While plug-in electric vehicles represent a huge opportunity to transition transport to a greener energy source, this will have a flow on impact on our country’s electricity system which is not designed to support charging widespread use of electric vehicles," said Unison Group Chief Executive Officer, Ken Sutherland.

"Unison is focused on ensuring the Company is prepared to meet the future needs of its customers. This trial is part of a wider program to provide us with the insights required to facilitate and manage the impact of not only electric vehicle charging; but also to investigate the interplay between electric vehicle charging, distributed generation and energy storage, in our approach to optimally manage emerging technologies"

Angus Helmore, Chief Executive Officer of Hawke’s Bay Toyota said the trial would provide information on customer preferences and choices, and would therefore enable further development of electric vehicles.

"Toyota has pioneered hybrid and electric vehicle technology, and we believe there is potential for further gains to users through both reduced energy costs and reduced emissions. Toyota has produced five hundred plug-in hybrids for the purpose of evaluating, and further developing, hybrid electric vehicles."

During the month-long trial, the vehicle will be used by Unison staff as a fleet vehicle, as well as spending time used as a ‘family car’. It will also be used by regional leaders and stakeholders, including Hastings District Council Chief Executive Officer, Ross McLeod, who believes hybrid electric vehicles may be part of the solution to creating a more energy efficient, and healthier, Hastings.

"The Hastings District Council Long Term Plan includes positioning Hastings for a new energy future, and that includes a focus on renewable energy and increasing energy efficiency. Hybrid electric vehicles will reduce our demand for fossil fuels, and will offer positive outcomes that include improvements in air quality and a lower carbon footprint."

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