Liz Yeaman, founder of NZ based transport consultancy Retyna, talks to Fleet News Group podcast host Caroline Falls about how she participated in NZ’s transformation to EVs almost 20 years ago, the upcoming Electro Mobility Summit in NZ she will be chairing next month, and the urgent need to adopt the technology we have in the face of climate change crises.
Prior to setting up the consultancy in 2018 Yeaman worked for 22 years at the EECA, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority. When she left she was general manager of transport and responsible for leading the government authority’s electric vehicle program.
She started working on EV projects at EECA as early as 2007.
“They were just starting to emerge in Japan. And we bought some very early vehicles over from Japan, and ran a conference to try and raise the profile of electrification as a future of transport energy. I think at that time, a lot of people thought it was pie in the sky and wouldn’t actually happen,” said Yeaman.
The whole notion of turning to more energy efficient EVs struck a chord in compatriots of a country with abundant renewable energy resources. Hydro energy is the island nation’s biggest source of energy.
“We could see a way into the future and we just needed to bring other people along on the journey. So we started providing information and running seminars and so on about electric vehicles to educate and inform and bring the first ones over to New Zealand so that people could see that they were real.”
Yeaman is still a champion of education and information on EVs and is chairing the Electro Mobility Summit in Auckland September 5 and 6.
“It is the electro mobility event of the year in New Zealand. It’s a two-day event. Anyone who’s anyone in New Zealand comes along to that. It’s about the vehicles and the charging infrastructure and the policies and where it’s going,” said Yeaman, adding an adjunct exhibition of the latest technology and vehicles is popular as well.
Yeaman will present at the conference on the work of CharIN — Europe-based Charging Interface Initiative, a non-profit promoting the adoption of unified global standards for electric vehicle charging systems. Yeaman is an ambassador for CharIN, which has more than 300 member groups from around the world. Yeaman is a also non-executive director of ChargeNet, which operates a fast-charger network in NZ.
Meanwhile, reflecting on the EV transformation she has witnessed, Yeaman said: ”It always takes longer than you think to get going. And then when you’re going, it happens quicker than you thought it would,” adding, “It’s now moving in a direction where you’re not going to stop the change. We’ve got all of the International car manufacturers, bringing out more and more models, stating dates when they will no longer be manufacturing petrol and diesel vehicles and only manufacturing electric vehicles. We’ve got international governments saying the same thing. We’re starting to see electrification go into more and more applications, and wider use. And it’s just going to keep growing and accelerating with the uptake. And it’s what we need right now, as we look to what’s happening in North America at the moment and Europe, with Europe literally on fire, with climate change. It’s a technology that we actually really, really need.”
So is New Zealand a model for other countries and jurisdictions rolling out their own electrification of transport?
“We’ve been really lucky with a couple of things. We have had government support, we’ve also had some private individuals in New Zealand who have made a big personal commitment, like Steven West, did when they founded ChargeNet. It was their personal belief in the future of electric vehicles and wanting to do something for the environment that made them put their personal capital into a big investment,” said Yeaman.
— For more information about the upcoming conference Electro Mobility Summit and Exhibition, click here. Fleet EV News is a media partner of the event.