New Zealand is the ideal country to widely adopt the electric car, and a visiting Hong Kong expert predicts electric vehicles could be widely used in 10 years.
At the APEC workshop on electric vehicle connectivity, in Wellington on Wednesday, Hong Kong University's Professor C.C. Chan, touted as the "grandfather of the electric car", said interest in electric vehicles varied, generally in response to oil prices, but now politicians and industry were interested.
He predicted that with continued improvements in batteries and industry co-operation, the widespread use of electric cars could be 10 years away.
However, New Zealand's problem was being such a small market for manufacturers, and he suggested New Zealand team up with similar island nations to standardise the infrastructure and make a bigger market.
The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority's Elizabeth Yeaman said transport is New Zealand's largest energy consumer, and hardly any of it uses renewable energy.
She said New Zealand was ideally placed to use electric cars because 80 per cent of people lived in towns or cities.
Ninety per cent of cars are driven less than 85km a day, well within the range of current technology.
New Zealand's 230 volt system meant cars could be charged in seven hours - compared to 14 hours for lower voltage overseas systems.
An electric car could have an annual running cost of $280, or the equivalent of 26 cents a litre in petrol.
She said the car industry would address any concerns electric cars would just be electric shopping carts.
"Cars are our choice, they are the things we fall in love with, and they have to be what we want."
The car industry was good at producing designs that people wanted and she said there would be a much wider range of electric vehicles.
The Tesla roadster sports car was breaking out of the traditional electric car mould, and there would be more, she said.