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Wellington unveils new EV charger as New Zealand looks to a bright electric future

New Zealand's capital city Wellington unveiled its first public electric vehicle charger this month, as it aims to kickstart its fledgling electric transportation market.

The city, already the first in New Zealand to trial production electric cars in the form of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, now has a 15-amp charging post available to anybody on the cortner of Customhouse Quay and Whitmore Street.

The charger, which is free to use to the public, is a signal of the growing appeal of electric vehicles, which are most associated with places such as Tokyo and California but are now becoming available around the world.

Although there are reportedly only a "handful" of electric vehicles on the streets of Wellington, the Mitsubishi i and Nissan LEAF are both set to hit New Zealand in 2012, where they are expected to draw the same attention they have done in Japan, the US and Europe.

Mitsubishi is already known as something of a green name in the country - it's a long-term partner of the Zealandia eco-tourism attraction, a 225-hectare living ark which opened last year to showcase the world as it was "the day before humans arrived."

Last year, it provided five i-MiEV models to the city for a trial involving authorities and the New Zealand Post, similar to the larger trials being conducted across neighboring Australia.

Unlike other electric vehicle markets, which often use fossil fuels to generate the electricity used for charging cars, New Zealand boasts an excellent alternative energy infrastructure of wind turbines and hydroelectricity installations.

In 2009, researchers said the the unique capability of electric vehicles to store and discharge power while they are plugged in and not used, effectively making them large batteries, could greatly increase the efficiency of the New Zealand power grid in the future by storing unused energy and providing it back when it was most needed.

For a country which produces roughly 70 percent of its electricity renewably, Wellington's single new charge point could be the start of something very big in indeed.

Read more: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/4786249/Mayor-amped-about-charging-post