Jucy Rentals will be launching ten new EV campers into its fleet for the summer season, reports New Zealand Autocar (6 August 2018). The company is also working with Massey University academics to develop more lightweight and efficient vehicles.
This follows Jucy’s five month trial which saw an electric powered campervan driven more than 13,000km to 45 destinations across New Zealand - with data recorded on the cost and availability of charging infrastructure as well as local attitudes towards, and awareness of EVs.
JUCY co-founder and chief operating officer Dan Alpe says the company is moving ahead with plans to introduce a larger fleet of electric campervans to the New Zealand market.
“The first stage will be the addition of another ten electric vehicles which we expect to have ready in time for the coming summer season. This new fleet of vehicles will need to go much further on a single charge to avoid tourists being stranded,” he says.
Alpe says Jucy is working with academics at Massey University to produce the next generation of electric campervans.
“The trial data showed us there are some key areas we need to focus on, including reducing the weight of the vehicle and increasing the capacity of the battery to allow us to get 200 km from each charge.
“Our collaboration with industrial design specialists at Massey University will see us completely redesign the interior and exterior of our campervans using new materials which are lighter and more aerodynamic.
“We will also be looking at the integration of solar panels and developing more advanced battery technology to find new ways to get more distance from each charge - without travellers having to compromise on features such as air conditioning to conserve power,” he says.
He says Jucy has recently applied for Government support to fund the local research and development of new EV technologies.
Alpe says while the tourists in the trial vehicle were able to traverse most of the country efficiently, the trial revealed a number of shortcomings with New Zealand’s EV infrastructure.
“In some parts of the South Island there are long distances in between vehicle charging stations which our current battery range can’t easily traverse. For example, there are no campgrounds between Blenheim and Kaikoura, let alone any charging facilities and only two fast charging stations in the entire West Coast.
“There was also a significant cost variation in the cost to power the battery each time, with one campground wanting $45 just to charge the vehicle - compared to a $5-$10 at most fast charging stations around the country.
“International tourists come to New Zealand expecting to find a country which has embraced a sustainable philosophy and it is clear that more work needs to be done for us to meet these expectations,” he says.
Alpe says one of the more interesting outcomes from the trial was the fact that centres with fast charging stations become an essential destination point and tourists will often want to fill in the wait time of 20-30 minutes by shopping in the local area.