New Zealand Environment Minister Amy Adams has officially opened the country’s first fast-charge station of electric vehicles (EVs) in Whangarei.

Based on Chademo standard, the new fast charger has a capacity to charge 80% of the battery within 30 minutes, whereas a standard charger needs eight hours for a full charge.

The Northpower EV charge station is also powered by Northland water, courtesy of the company’s Wairua hydro-electric power station at Titoki.

Based on the requirements, two other SAE J1772 standard-based chargers are available, with three additional units to be added later.

The daily running of EVs is 75% cheaper than petrol and diesel vehicles and the environmentally friendly development will contribute to an economic boost for Whangarei and surrounding townships.

Northpower CEO Mark Gatland said that the running costs on EVs are considerably cheaper.

"They cost NZ$2 ($1.72) a day for 50km-100km of mileage, in comparison to traditional motoring with diesel and petrol vehicles, which normally costs NZ$8 ($6.88) a day," Gatland said.

"Apart from changing tyres every 40,000km, there are very minimal servicing costs. People can simply drive them to work, head home and re-charge overnight on a standard three-point plug."

According to Northpower Network general manager Graham Dawson, excess availability of electricity in New Zealand for re-charging EVs should be taken advantage of.

"The cost of electric vehicles has historically prevented widespread adoption, but the importation of low cost, low mileage and second-hand Japanese electric cars have drastically changed the situation and has given Northpower the confidence to launch this initiative," Dawson said.