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October 2019

Shopping for electric cars in New Zealand can feel overwhelming, and trying to decide which brand best suits your needs can be incredibly hard. Rather than sifting through all of the information in order to get the essentials, read on, because we’ve already done it for you! We’re going to look at five categories of the top-selling EV cars designed by Hyundai, Nissan, and Mitsubishi (the ultimate economy brands), so that you know which one is right for you, from an expert’s perspective.

We’re basing each of these breakdowns on the newest EV model in the range for each respective brand, to get a sense of each brand’s progression in the economical automobile sector. However, keep in mind that you will be able to find a lot of second-hand options on the market too, if you’re looking for something cheaper.

That said, buckle up, and let’s get started.

The Hyundai IONIQ 

Starting at $59,990 for a new entry-level model, the IONIQ is a step up by Hyundai from previous years, and is one of the leaders in the electric SUV market.


The IONIQ sports an 88kW electronic motor that can generate up to 295nM of torque, which is relatively good for an electronic SUV. The real selling point for this car is the permanently magnetised synchronous motor, which is in constant motion when the car is idling, and as such does not need to be “sparked” every time you start going again. This creates the smooth, gliding kind of cruise that Hyundai is known for, and the IONIQ is the only car on our list today that features this kind of motor.


This car has three modes of charging:

  • AC Slow/Portable, which takes between sixteen and eighteen hours.
  • AC Fast Charge, which takes you to full in around four and a half hours.
  • DC Rapid Charge, which goes from 0% to 80% in about 30 minutes with a commercial 50kW charger.


This set of statistics is relatively standard for the modern electric car, but for an SUV with an 88kW engine, the AC Fast charge time is rather impressive.


On a full charge, the IONIQ can travel over 200km of real-world distance, which is on the high end of the electric ranges available today. It’s important to keep in mind that the extra space and manoeuvrability does require some extra grunt, so 200km is a very good amount for this car.


Four-wheel drive capability and heated seats makes this car a very enjoyable one to drive, and on top of that, you can choose what degree of regenerative braking you want to employ with the paddle-shifter. The IONIQ also features cruise control for those longer road-trips.

Overall, the fully-electric IONIQ is a great example of the marriage between Hyundai’s traditional design elements, and the future of eco-transport. We’d recommend this car to someone who loves road tripping, or someone with a family who needs the extra space, and wouldn’t mind a little bit of luxury on the side. The charging times are practical and so is the range, and the price when purchased brand-new is a standard for new electric cars.

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV

This zippy little car is built for the urban eco-warrior. Entry models start at $15,000 new, so the price is a lot more affordable for someone who doesn’t need quite the same space that an IONIQ or a Leaf provide. We think this car tends to fly under the radar quite often, so we’re glad to bring it into the spotlight for a bit.


With a maximum output of 49kW and 196nM of torque, this electric motor is undoubtedly smaller than many on the market today. However, because of the small size of the i-MiEV (it’s only 347.5cm long), this motor can easily send it hurtling along at 130km/h if you so wish.


From a 16A charger, the i-MiEV will go from empty to fully charge in only 6 hours! Even if you only have a 10A charger on hand, it will still only take 8 hours for this beauty to crank all the way up to 100% charged, and the 50kW quick-charge takes only 30 minutes. Compared to the other cars being evaluated here, this is the fastest charging time by far, and it’s because the motor requires far less energy to run.


On a full charge the i-MiEV will take you 160km, which is about mid-range in the world of eco-vehicles. This is due to its small size and light weight, meaning it can get a lot further on a lot less. Compared to the other two cars we’re looking at, though, this car has the shortest range.


Finally, the i-MiEV features a console remote for its multimedia system and climate controls, meaning your passengers can change the climate without you having to take your hands off of the wheel. It also has a regenerative braking selector, so you can customise your driving experience.

We recommend the i-MiEV for someone living an urban lifestyle, as it’s perfect for weaving in and out of traffic and fitting into those tight parking spots. Your budget doesn’t need to be too expansive either, so it’s ideal for someone single or a couple buying their first car together.

The Nissan Leaf

And finally, we’re onto one of the most well-known electric cars on the market, the Nissan Leaf. This was the top-selling electric car in Europe in 2018, and it tends to dominate both the market, and the conversation. But how does it compare to other progressive economical brands?


The Leaf stores a 40kW battery beneath its framework, and the motor generates an absolutely shocking 320nM, making this car a very good option for someone who likes a little bit of unexpected grunt in their vehicles. At $59,990 for the entry level Acenta model, this car is all tied up with the IONIQ for price.


Compared to the IONIQ and the i-MiEV, the Leaf falls in the mid-range of charging times. From the standard installed wallbox, a full charge takes about 13 hours, and a fast-charge from a 50kW commercial charger takes about an hour.


Some would say the longer charging time on the Leaf is worth it for the range it gives you – we think it depends on your lifestyle. Road-trippers and commuters will love the 270km range, but urban drivers may find the charging time inconvenient. Regardless, this range is the longest of any on the list today, making it an impressive phenomenon in the world of economic and electric driving.


Finally, the Leaf offers Nissan’s signature “Intelligent Integration” system, marrying all of the electronic information and diagnostics into one easy-to-read display. The 5-star safety rating is also an excellent feature, making this an excellent choice for families.

As we’ve said before, your ideal car will depend on your lifestyle and the kinds of things that you prefer in your driving experience. However, from today’s breakdown we have to say that in terms of performance the Leaf comes out on top, while the i-MiEV trumps the others for price, and the features and driving experience on the IONIQ are definitely the winner.

Learn more about EV and PHEV driving

We do everything from test-drives, to providing electric vehicle finance for our loyal customers, so come and see us at one of our showrooms today! Contact GVI Electric to find out more.

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