New Zealand trailing in the electric car race

The dawn of the electric vehicle has broken and it's casting its light across the globe. Traditional automakers including General Motors, Volkswagen, and Daimler AG are investing heavily in electric vehicles. It's a move backed by governments from 32 countries, all offering financial incentives for consumers to purchase electric vehicles. It's a list that New Zealand isn't on.

The governments of France and the UK say they will ban the sale of all diesel and petrol cars and vans from 2040 onwards. In New Zealand, the consideration for a ban is off the table for both Labour and National.

There are currently 4541 electric vehicles registered in New Zealand. National have set a target of 64,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2021, with a third of government vehicles to become electric by the same date.

Labour were unable to provide any numbers or future plans on electric vehicle integration when contacted. Labour MP and spokesman for energy and climate change Megan Woods told Newshub in a statement:

"To know the number of electric vehicles we need on our roads we need to meet our obligations and reduce our carbon emissions (in combination with other measures across the economy) we need carbon budgeting. This is why Labour has committed to an independent climate commission and carbon budgeting.

"Getting a greater range of electric vehicles and having them in a price range more people are prepared to pay will be critical to improving the uptake of them, although we do not know the precise number needed until we produce carbon budgets. What we do know is that the present unambitious standing still target is not enough. We will be more ambitious on electric vehicles numbers then the present Government"

Despite what seems to be a lack of foresight from both parties, all roads are leading to an electric car future - as more auto-manufacturers and countries prepare for a combustion free landscape.

But what will happen to the cars that are left behind - is there a future for the fossil powered car beyond eventually becoming one itself? Co-founder of UK-based company Classic Electric Cars, Richard Morgan, believes he has an idea that could convert a problem into a solution, by converting petrol cars into in electric, and he's starting with the classics.

Classic Electric Cars replaces combustion engines with electric batteries. Mr Morgan isn't just doing it because it's good for the environment, he says he's doing it because he loves cars, it's fun and there is zero maintenance that comes with electric vehicles.

"I'm a firm believer if you want to adopt the mass market in electric vehicles you really want to step out of the whole green aspect of it," says Mr Morgan.

"If you want to grab the attention of the average petrol head on the street you really want to be coming at it from a sexy sort of appeal or a practical point of view, or something that's fun or sporty and that's kind of the angle that I'm coming from."

But like all disruptive technology this change raises a number of challenges particularly for the local mechanic. A traditional combustion engine has hundreds of moving parts requiring regular servicing and an electric car has less.

How do emergency services assist an electric car accident in wet conditions? What will the change bring to the existing infrastructure? Only time will tell… but time is moving very fast.

Oh, and for the petrolheads out there don't worry – Mr Morgan's creations all have manual transmissions. How? See the video for more detail.