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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 24th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Rapid change: EVs and global warming

27 February 2018

OMG... I watched the first episode of the new Top Gear series last night and one of the hosts (Rory) admitted that petrol engines are on the way out.

That is pretty much a watershed moment in the evolution of the car -- when a mainstream TV show which has been so anti-EV for so long, finally comes out and admits the inevitable.

The interesting thing will be... just how long will it be before we see more than 50% of new car sales being EVs?

In fact, I'd like to invite readers to place their bets now as to exactly how long that will take.

Initially I figured it would be quite a way off... maybe 15 years or so but then a friend of mine said he'd just been up to Auckland to look at getting a Tesla.

Apparently they have good stocks of Teslas right here in NZ (or so he was told) so if you've got the money, they'll sell you one (so long as it's a model S or X).

How odd... I thought Tesla were backed-up with orders and were having trouble meeting the demand; or maybe that's just for the Model 3.

Other folk seem to be running, not walking, to grab second-hand Jap import Nissan Leafs and the general interest all round is actually surprisingly high.

Of course the great unknown factor is exactly how much of this interest and talk will translate into actual sales and EV tyres on roads.

EV owners will also probably find that once the fleet reaches the threshold set by government and the road-user charges kick in, the massively lower total cost of ownership and operation will be bumped up a bit and that could take some of the shine of EVs as an option.

However, the bureaucrats within the halls of power aren't stupid (they just act that way) and you can bet that they will time a petrol-tax increase to coincide with the introduction of RUC for EVs. If RUCs are still 6.5 cents per KM when introduced for EVs then you an expect to see a tax of the same magnitude introduced as an additional "carbon tax" on fossil fuels so as to maintain the fiscal incentive to go electric. Oh, and the fact that it will provide an extra windfall for the government's consolidated fund will be just a bonus; of course.

So it appears as if EVs will become the norm much faster than most people had anticipated just a few short years ago and that has to be a good thing.

Also arriving faster than expected are the effects of climate change...

According to reports, some very unusual changes are taking place over the arctic and antarctic regions of the planet.

Warm, moist air is displacing the usually cold layers that cover the poles and this is resulting in two worrying changes. Firstly, the rate of ice-melt is increasing and there is very little refreezing over winter. Secondly, the warm moist air at these very high latitudes is pushing much colder air down into regions such as Europe.

This has seen incredibly cold temperatures in Europe and the UK this winter so will we see the same thing happening down here in NZ when our winter arrives? Might we get the same sort of polar inversion forcing polar blasts into the roaring 40s, turning Godzone into an Icezone?

According to the news stories, it appears as if changes driven by global warming that weren't supposed to happen for another 30 years are already underway.

Or is it just weather?

You tell me.

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