Climate action, Formula E is an obvious fit

Published: Sat 8 Dec 2018 12:23 PM
If New Zealand is to take urgent climate action, Formula E is an obvious fit
Saturday 8th December, 2018
In recent weeks, there has been seemingly endless commentary in New Zealand and around the world proclaiming the critical importance of fighting climate change – and the calamitous consequences of failing to do so.
At the same time, New Zealand has a golden opportunity to bring a major global event to the country that would advance the adoption of electric transportation in New Zealand, provide an international shop window to the nation’s clean tech sector, establish New Zealand among global destinations that are serious about addressing climate change, and deliver a ten-to-one ratio of economic return on investment.
Staging a round of the FIA Formula E Championship in Auckland would bring a host of benefits to New Zealand that no other event could hope to – the fully-electric motor sport championship has grown dramatically in its four years, advancing Electric Vehicle (EV) technology, attracting a majority of the world’s automotive manufacturers, and global cities like New York, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Mexico City and Hong Kong.
In addition to the lasting effects that Formula E could drive within New Zealand around developing cleaner, smarter and safer mobility solutions, international independent research firm SMG Insight conducted an Economic Impact Assessment that established a predicted impact of approximately NZD$150 million as a result of the championship’s global reach and influence – from a maximum government contribution (Central and Local combined) of NZD$14 million.
Just three per cent of new vehicle sales in New Zealand are either full electric or hybrid vehicles (across 48 different models for sale in 2018). That number reduces to under one per cent when only considering full electric vehicles. Compare that to the world's electric vehicle leaders – in September, 45 per cent of Norway’s new vehicle sales were EVs – and it’s clear, irrespective of the reasons, New Zealand is a long way behind in the adoption of electric transportation.
Craig Cotton, CEO, NZ Innovation Council, and a senior member of the Auckland E-Prix bid team, believes there is a “hearts-and-minds” challenge in New Zealand’s evolution towards becoming truly 100 per cent pure.
“We are hugely supportive of initiatives such as the New Zealand Green Investment Fund, which was announced earlier this week,” said Mr Cotton. “It is essential for government to help Kiwi businesses adopt cleaner and more environmentally conscious practices…
“However, the adoption of technology and infrastructure that affects the broader New Zealand public needs to be done in a strategic and considered way. We have seen riots and protests in other parts of the world where the public has not been included in the process of evolving from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
“This is where Formula E can have a real impact in New Zealand – demonstrating the benefits of electric transportation, and helping to establish future infrastructure and technology that suits all Kiwis, while addressing the very real climate concerns that we are all facing.”
In a statement, Giltrap Group, an Auckland E-Prix partner, said “Formula E is a hugely exciting global motor sport platform – and we are very fortunate to have New Zealand represented by Mitch Evans in the championship, and his brother Simon in the Jaguar I-Pace E-Trophy support category.
“In the automotive industry, the global proliferation of EVs has been exponential – but this has yet to really occur in New Zealand. Formula E is the ideal way to showcase the performance of, and advances in Electric Vehicles.
“As a company, we are embracing the latest generation of EVs which, like Formula E cars, deliver incredible range and performance.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for Auckland to join some of the world’s greatest cities in bringing Formula E to its streets.”
Mark Webber, nine-time F1 Grand Prix winner, 2015 FIA World Endurance Champion and Porsche Brand Ambassador stressed the opportunity for Auckland and New Zealand to play a leading role in this region regarding the future of mobility.
“It’s imperative that this part of the world – Australia and New Zealand – doesn’t get left behind by the rest of the world as it forges ahead developing technology and infrastructure for the future,” said Mr Webber.
“When you look at the list of cities involved, and the companies involved, you can see that Formula E is where the future of personal transportation is being shaped – I can certainly speak on behalf of Porsche’s commitment to the championship and its vision. Also the fact that everyone is excited to visit New Zealand…”
Another contributor to the bid, Duncan Stewart, Deputy Chairman, Drive Electric, says electric vehicles are the best available technology and lowest cost option for New Zealand to reduce liquid transport emissions.
“Formula E is an exciting opportunity for Kiwis to better understand the performance capabilities of EVs, and an important global benchmark in the move towards low carbon transport.
“It would be a real shame if New Zealand does not make the most of this opportunity to host a global property that will engage and stimulate future thinking and investment.”
… ends/

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