Auckland University academics who have developed wireless charging systems for electric vehicles (EVs), are concerned their work does not further open the gap between the haves, and the have-nots.
On Monday, the Government as much as acknowledged EVs were for the wealthy, with incentives to those on lower incomes part of its $579 million package.
University of Auckland transportation engineer Dr Doug Wilson is part of a team looking to incorporate wireless charging pads into roads, carparks, taxi stands and bus stops, but says it is important the technology is available to all.
“We are worried or concerned at wanting to manage that we don’t increase the gap between equity of those that have those that don’t … but it’s a difficult one to do,” he said.
Switching to electric vehicles (EVs) is an essential part of New Zealand meeting international commitments, and is government policy.
“We want to transition as quickly as possible, which usually means there is a peer pressure,” Wilson says.
“For those that have money that works very well, but that means that if we optimise, based on that, we’re going to put in charging systems in the rich suburbs.
“While that makes sense economically, but doesn’t make sense from a social equity stance.”
Wilson and the university team are working with lower socio-economic groups to determine their needs in terms of travel patterns, and how the technology could work with low emission vehicles or electric vehicles.
“We want to ensure that we provide opportunities in communities that don’t have a lot with perhaps more shared transport systems”.
“How can the technology of electrification and wireless power demonstrate to all of Aotearoa how to live more locally and share transport to reduce the carbon footprint?”
Faculty of Engineering lecturer Dr Tūmanako Fa’aui is researching the impacts, benefits and inclusion of Māori within the technology.
Initial concerns are around the cost of EVs and range anxiety, but there are wider conversations about how the technology can improve health and community well-being.