21 Apr 2017

Govt tests electric limo for Crown fleet

7:14 pm on 21 April 2017

An electric-hybrid limousine is being put through its paces to see whether it's up to the job of transporting politicians and VIPs around the country.

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Photo: RNZ / Chris Bramwell

Government chaffeurs are trialling the BMW 740Le xDrive Plug-In Hybrid vehicle to see whether they could serve as Crown cars in the future.

The government is keen to play its part in hitting its target of having 64,000 electric vehicles on the road by the end of 2021.

The Crown VIP transport fleet runs 32 diesel-powered BMW limousines, which are used to drive government ministers and other VIPs on official business.

But now BMW has lent the VIP Transport service the electric-hybrid limousine for a free trial to see whether it meets their requirements.

VIP Transport manager Steve Dyhrberg said there were some clear first impressions.

"The quietness of the car is an interesting challenge... and especially in Wellington's quite narrow streets you can't hear it coming and I know that that's proved a bit of a challenge for people driving it," he said.

Mr Dyhrberg said the only difference between the interior of the electric vehicle and that of the current twin-turbo diesels was an extra button to switch between power modes.

And he said it was not lacking in guts.

"The amount of brake horsepower that these cars produce is actually slightly more than the diesel - but we're certainly not going to be testing its acceleration, we don't need to know how long it takes to get from 0 to 100."

Mr Dyhrberg said they would be testing the car throughout the country.

"Our three depots are Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and the nature of the jobs they do are quite different.

"Auckland most of the jobs are urban networks, motorways that sort of thing.

"In Wellington it's predominantly inner-city trips out and back to the airport, and down in Christchurch a lot of their trips can be rural - on open roads etc.

"We want to make sure we give each depot a good opportunity to see what [the electric vehicle] looks like."

Mr Dyhrberg said the trial would probably take another three months and then a decision would be made on whether to start introducing the electric hybrids into the VIP fleet.

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