Okay - the time has come to actually put action to the need to look after the planet. NZ has over 80% renewable energy in the form of (primarily) hydro and (to a lesser extent) wind generation. While the hybrid Toyota Prius V was looking good and had the 7-seats that would be useful, it had no plug-in capability! I know it uses a battery to run the engine but using petrol exclusively to charge that battery seems insanely stupid.
The next model investigated was the Tesla-S. The closest supplier to New Zealand is the Sydney team. However, they are unable to supply the "7 seater added option" because the Australian rules disallow the two back-facing car seats. The Sydney office failed to respond to my email query about whether a car shipping directly to New Zealand cound be exempted. I guess they have more-important people, like Australians, to work with rather than sell to minor countries like New Zealand. The next option is to purchase directly from UK where prices start around 40K including V.A.T. but shipping is bound to be quite expensive. Tesla are an excellent EV with ranges between 400-500km and superb battery technology. We will be hearing much more from Tesla in the future with all sorts of features related to energy storage options.
So, back to an old favourite I've heard a bit of. Nissan made (quiet) headlines when they cut their new car prices by half a year or so back. $40K is the cost of a brand new late model Nissan Leaf which, while not the "machine" that the Tesla is, certainly deserves a look in for New Zealand medium-distance commuters.
Nissan in Hawkes Bay offered $10,000 of their ex-demo model with only 3,500 on the odometer and agreed to ship it down to the South Island free of charge. An equivalent model in Timaru was also available for $7000 off, but I like big discounts so... Mention my name if you read this and contact them - they'll be pleased to know that what they offered me is now public knowledge!
So, this car has a maximum range of 160km (but I intend to beat that with some pretty good driving and car loading). The cost of a full charge is around $6, so that's a pretty good $ per km rate. The cost of getting a 15A plug into the external garage was looking quite steep because of the 600mm trench but JuicePoint have recently imported 8A chargers that plug into any standard NZ plug. They're a bit pricey at $545 (plus delivery and GST!) but effectively double the range of the car's journey as long as you have a friend at the far end. The other thing to improve range of EVs is the network of charging stations being rolled out by ChargeNet - 25 minutes to charge an empty battery to 80%. Also, a group of people have made electric plugs available for slower charging through PlugShare.