Tesla launching in New Zealand

Vector monopoly under threat.

You may have heard of Elon Musk's recent plan to colonise Mars.

But the bigger news — at least for local fans – is that his company is setting up shop in New Zealand.

Tesla says New Zealanders will be able to order online for its cars and home batteries from November.

A direct presence is coming too. 

A statement issued by the company's Melbourne office says, "In response to overwhelming demand for Model 3 and enthusiasm from owners who have imported their Tesla cars into the country, Tesla has confirmed New Zealand as a future site for a Tesla Store and Service Center along with sites for Superchargers, set to open as early as the second quarter of 2017."

It adds, "Tesla Powerwall and Powerpack products, currently available to New Zealand customers via authorised installer Vector Energy, will also be available at the new location, allowing local residents to self-consume their solar and store energy during off-peak times to support electricity networks. By combining sustainable transportation and battery products with renewable energy sources, Tesla owners will be able to conveniently charge and drive with zero emissions."

This is mixed news for Vector. Tesla's direct presence will dramatically raise the profile of its Powerpack products, currently being trialed by Vector with around 200 customers.

But it also implies the NZX-based company will lose its current monopoly (NBR sought clarification on that point; asked if Vector would retain its position as Telsa's only authorised installer in NZ, Tesla's Heath Walker replied, "Tesla highly values its relationship with Vector, although we do not have exclusivity with any party globally. Vector and Tesla are working together in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands to deliver Powerwall and Powerpack solutions to clients).

When NBR tipped the news on Twitter, it drew likes from Tesla fans in the tech set including Orion Health chief executive Ian McCrae, Xero boss Rod Drury and Datacom's Rob Purdy.

Telsa spokesman Heath Walker tells NBR that supercharger, which can charge a vehicle in minutes, will also be part of the rollout, although like the main Tesla location, their placing has yet to be finalised (while commendable, Spark's plan to turn phone boxes into EV charging stations is only good for a top-up; a full charge would take hours). 

Mr Drury has personally badgered Elon Musk to sell to New Zealanders. Along with Mr Purdy. he was one of the first to place an order after the Tesla Model S was made available to Kiwis in April.

Mr McCrae is one of a number of New Zealanders who did a DIY import, which he says was a complicated process. Soon, the process of buying will get a lot easier. But you could still be in for a wait. Mr Purdy's Model S, ordered in April, arrived this week.

The electric car maker has three models its lineup: the $US35,000 Model 3 — for which there have been around 400,000 orders since it was launched earlier this year; the Model S (which sells from around $US71,000) and the Model X (from $US80,000 to $US150,000 depending on options).

The New Zealand government recently introduced a range of measures aimed at boosting electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid adoption.

These included a new measure to allow solo-driver electric vehicles to use bus and car pool lanes, and $10 million in support funding including a $6 million contestable fund for the promotion of electric vehicle initiatives (if you're a carmaker looking to blag a taxpayer-subsidised rebate scheme for your customers, or a putative charging station owner, submissions close October 17; cynics may think Telsa is sneaking its official announcement in before that deadline).

Transport Minister Simon Bridges says the government wants the number of electric vehicles to double each year to reach 64,000 by 2021, which would represent 2% of vehicles on our roads. At that point, incentives like the ability to invade a bus lane will be reassessed. 

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