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Electric car driver hits the road in record-breaking trip across NZ to 'dispel EV myths'

An Auckland driver is hitting the road in the classic Kiwi roadie with a twist: he's heading from Cape Reinga to Bluff in an electric vehicle (EV) and hoping to set a world record while he does it.

John Fitness with his electric car. Source: Supplied

John Fitness says he's owned an electric car for three years and decided to take on the challenge after attending the opening of a new Tesla supercharger in Whangārei.

"I thought, 'Look, we've actually got the infrastructure now to do a full run through the country, essentially to emulate that great Kiwi road trip from the Cape to the Bluff,'" he told 1 NEWS.

"Having been involved with having an electric car for such a long time, even my closest friends go, 'Oh you can't go far out of Auckland, you can't drive that far,' and it's just about dispelling some of those myths."

The trip has been officially registered with Guinness World Records; the challenge is to cross New Zealand in the fewest number of charging stops.

Fitness is planning six stops across the two-day trip: three in the North Island and three in the South.

He'll also need witnesses to make sure it can be verified with Guinness World Records. One of those witnesses will be Northland Councillor Joseph Camuso.

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"I think what John's doing is awesome. It's bringing electric cars into the mainstream," Camuso says.

"I think he's demonstrating that New Zealand is the envy of the world, really, when it comes to electric car charging, because if you look at the map, we just have very good coverage."

These days, an electric roadie isn't that different to one in a petrol car, Camuso says.

Instead of fuelling up then taking a break for a coffee or a sandwich, he says you're doing both at the same time.

"It's a little different mentality than driving a petrol vehicle because it's funny, we do exactly the same thing. With the electric car charging, you end up while you're having your lunch, your car is charging."

Fitness says he's built "quite a bit of fat into the plan" so he has plenty of time to have breaks to ensure he's driving safely and not getting fatigued.

"I think my longest drive is just under four hours. Because I've got those six evenly spaced stops, each stop will be between 30 to maybe 55 minutes roughly."

John Fitness had a message emblazoned across his rear windscreen. Source: Supplied

While he admits electric cars are still fairly pricey — his Tesla Model 3 set him back $75,000 — he wants to see its use normalised.

"The battery technology has improved so quickly in the last three years I've been driving electric, inevitably it'll come down super quick and I think that when you look at your next car, it's starting to become more realistic to go electric or partial electric — hybrid or plug-in hybrid, for example," Fitness says.

"What I want to show with this trip is that, granted, the price might be too high at this point, but very soon — maybe this year or the year after next — you're looking at factory electric cars that can do everything you need it to, including the great Kiwi road trip. It shows feasibility."

Camuso echoes his message.

"The three biggest complaints are the cost of the vehicle, the type of vehicles available and then the charging infrastructure," he says.

"We don't make them and we don't have a lot of control around that, but the infrastructure we certainly do."

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By coincidence, the trip comes shortly after a major report was released by the Climate Change Commission on Sunday.

Among its recommendations are an aggressive move towards EVs to reduce the country's climate change impacts.

It proposes banning new petrol cars from 2030 and wants two-fifths of New Zealand's vehicles to be electric by 2035.

Fitness plans to set off from Cape Reinga at around 5.30am tomorrow, arriving in Bluff on Friday night and meeting members of the electric vehicle community along the way.