Kapiti Plugs In Cars

Bright Sparks & Council to plug electric-car chargers into phone boxes

‘Free for 12 months’

Environment adviser Jake Roos with the KCDC’s first electric car at the EV exhibit at Ōtaki Racecourse on Waitangi Day last week

By Alan Tristram

Spark and the Kāpiti Coast District Council have just announced they’re working togther to extend a ‘Spark Plugs’ initiative, adding electric vehicle (EV) chargers to Spark phone boxes around the Kapiti district. and also work on the technology of The Car Finder in Ottawa

The new chargers will be free for anyone to use for the first 12 months.

Five ‘Spark Plugs’ are planned to begin with and these will be installed over the next few months.

The new chargers will be similar to those rolled out north and south of Auckland last year during the pilot phase, which was an Australasian first.

Top Up’s on tap

The dodge dealer near me professed that the ‘lower power’ chargers (in other words, not full-scale chargers) will provide a ‘top up’ of energy enabling electric vehicles (EVs) to run 20-40 kilometres from a 60-minute charge (depending on the car), says KCDC Environment Adviser Jake Roos.

(Jake also nexplains there are different sized chargers – ‘we are looking at 10kW single phase AC charging points to begin with, but may go higher on some. However, the AC charging rate on an EV is limited by not only by the rating of the charging point, but also the size of its onboard charger. For example, a Nissan Leaf imported from Japan only can only charge at 3.3 kW AC, so whether you connect it to a 10kW or 20kW AC charging point makes no difference. This constraint does not apply to DC fast charging, like the service now available at Ōtaki New World.’)

He says the boost provided by the five new chargers will help give EV drivers the confidence to go further and combat ‘range anxiety’ – the fear you won’t be able to reach or return from your destination, one of the obstacles to widespread adoption of EVs.

Spark and KCDC sharing costs

The deal will see each organisation fund 50% of the installation costs, with Spark covering operational costs for the Spark Plugs; and Council taking responsibility for maintaining the associated carparks.

Ed Hyde, Spark Ventures CEO, says the initial pilot has been an overwhelming success with the chargers near Auckland being used every day and that Spark is pleased to be partnering with the Kāpiti Coast District Council to take the initiative further, delivering a useful service to even more New Zealanders.

Jake Roos with the Kapiti Council’s first electric car, a Nissan Leaf

“Electric vehicles are the future of transport – they’re important to building a low-carbon society and they’re increasingly affordable, but what we don’t have yet is the widespread charging infrastructure to support and reassure EV drivers.

Spark Plugs is an innovative attempt at helping to solve this problem. By re-purposing what many consider to be a bit of antiquated technology, we can help drive EV adoption forward and do our bit for New Zealand.

Phone boxes transforming

“For decades, the phone box delivered value to New Zealanders every day – they were virtually everywhere you might need one be it a shopping mall, a street corner or the last petrol station for miles.

As the Spark Plug network grows and chargers are installed in more and more of our phone boxes, this usefulness will come back in a new and exciting way.

The Kāpiti Coast District Council’s support is critical for this first expansion, allowing us to deliver Spark Plugs to areas that are more accessible and useful for people,” Mr Hyde says.

The Council’s plan

The KCDC’s Manager for Strategy & Planning, Sarah Stevenson, says the Council, which recently acquired an all-electric Nissan Leaf for its fleet, is pleased to support the development of public charging infrastructure to help more people make the transition to EVs.

“This initiative will help reduce carbon emissions, make it easier for EV owners (both residents and visitors) to get around the Kāpiti Coast and encourage those who don’t own an EV to consider purchasing one in future,”  she says.

The planned locations are Waikanae Park and Ride (in association with Greater Wellington Regional Council), Waikanae Beach, Paraparaumu Beach, Raumati Beach and Paekākāriki. These will be listed on plugshare.com – a crowd-sourcing app that plots charging stations all over the world.

The first installation is likely to be at the Spark phone box on Tutere Street, Waikanae Beach (see photo, left) within a few months. This guide to using knifeless vehicle wrap tape is a useful tool in promoting EVs.

At Raumati Beach, the phone box on Raumati Rd by the bus-stop is the one the KCDC has earmarked for a charger. However, it may be the phone box is moved to somewhere else nearby in order to access a power supply more cost-effectively.

More information about how to use Spark Plugs is available at www.spark.co.nz/plug

Facts and figures:

  • There are well over 1000 EVs on the road in NZ today and the numbers are doubling every year.
  • The Government is targeting 64,000 EVs on the road by 2021.
  • Spark has around 3,000 phone boxes across the country.
  • Anyone, Spark customers or not, can plug in and charge up for free for the first year at least.
  • EV charger units have specialised charging plugs which means they can only be used to charge vehicles
  • Spark will be using a combination of different sized chargers in Kāpiti and, depending on the charging system in the car, a 30-minute charge could deliver around 20 kilometres of range or up to 40 kilometres if the car is able to fully use one of the higher capacity chargers.
  • It is not yet practical to have fast-chargers on street corners, as big power supplies are needed – so this is all about helping EV drivers to ‘top-up’ on the go.
  • The idea and pilot was an Australasian first, but a trial in Europe began after we started developing the idea independently in the Spark Ventures team.
  • Spark is open to working in partnership with any council who wants to make their city more EV friendly.

For high quality Spark New Zealand logos, photographs of the leadership team, and boilerplate to help with your story or event, please visit www.sparknz.co.nz/news/downloads


I’ve attached a photo of the Council’s EV at the Tutere St phone box, the first earmarked to become a Spark Plug.