New Zealand's first battery-powered bus hits the road in Rotorua

The country's sustainable transport plan is full speed ahead with New Zealand's first Kiwi-made battery-powered 'e-bus' hitting the road in Rotorua.

There are concerns though because the ongoing driver shortage could slam the brakes on the Government's plan to decarbonise the bus fleet by 2035.

The future of sustainable transport is heading our way.

Transport Minister Michael Wood was on board the New Zealand-made zero-emissions bus for its first journey.

"[It's] really impressive. Great to see a Kiwi-owned company designing and building a fully electric bus."

The E-City bus runs on batteries with support from solar panels built into the roof.

It's built by Kiwi company Zemtec and is said to be 30 percent more energy-efficient than any other e-bus on the market here, which means it'll go further per charge and be less drain on the power supply.

"You don't need anywhere near as much power to charge New Zealand's fleet," Zemtec CEO John Bays told Newshub.

Nowadays transport accounts for almost 40 percent of CO2 emissions nationwide. The electric buses will not only reduce that but improve overall air quality.

"We have a real problem with air quality in our towns and cities, with many, many people prematurely dying, contracting serious illness because of poor air quality so shifting our fleet as quickly as possible is great for our environment but also people's health," Wood said.

The bus's next stop is Tāmaki Makarau, Auckland.

"The bus we've seen today will go into full passenger service in November, so we are just finalising our commercial discussions," Auckland Transport's Darekl Koper said.

But the Transport Minister admitted the shortage of drivers could slam the brakes on their long-term plan.

"I'll be making an announcement soon on how we can apply that funding to keep drivers and keep these buses going," Wood said.

A critical stop on the road to zero emissions.