New Zealand CEOs lead electric vehicle charge

A CEO tests out an electric vehicle (Newshub.)
A CEO tests out an electric vehicle (Newshub.)

A group of New Zealand's largest companies have agreed to get rid of a sizeable chunk of their petrol and diesel vehicles and replace them with electric cars.

The pact will almost double the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on our roads, and was brought about by a couple of strong willed CEOs.

On Friday morning 34 CEOs gathered in Auckland's viaduct and signed up to go electric.

"The deal was you get to come and have a free breakfast but you've got to deliver us 30 percent of your cars - and that's what happened," says Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon.

For months now, the CEOs of Air New Zealand and Mercury have been putting the hard word on their fellow executives.

"Christopher Luxon and I split the rolodex and made a few phone calls, but a lot of them were already on board in terms of the mindset, but just needed a little bit of encouragement - yeah, a little bit of arm twisting," says Mercury chief executive Fraser Whineray.

They were so persuasive they'll increase the number of electric vehicles on our roads by more than 75 percent - adding 1450 by 2019.

A sustainability expert from the UK says the high percentage of renewable energy here means EVs are an effective carbon reduction tool, but warned it needs to be part of a bigger strategy.

"If a company said, 'Okay, I'll do a little bit of substitution out of fossil fuels into electric vehicles and that'll have me sorted for the next five years on carbon managment strategy' - I do hope there are no companies that are thinking like that because that would be really stupid," says sustainability adviser Sir Jonathon Porritt.

Still, it's hoped this initiative alone will reduce carbon emissions by 3000 tonnes annually - more if the Government signs on.

"We'd like to see a commitment from the Government as well in terms of the number of electric cars, and if telethon-style they can come up with another 1450 like these businesses today that would be a great first step," says Mr Whineray.

But it seems the Government is happy to let the private sector lead this charge - it's yet to commit to an electric fleet of its own.


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