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Electric Cars for Christchurch

Electric cars may be on Christchurch streets by 2012, with plans that the city be the first in New Zealand to create a charge-point network.

The Christchurch City Council and the Renault-Nissan Alliance have joined forces to introduce zero-emission vehicles to the city, with plans to launch the electric Leaf car in 2012.

Nissan says the Leaf model will be ideal for Christchurch. Promoted as the world's first affordable, zero-emission car, the medium-sized hatchback can carry five adults.

It runs off a lithium-ion battery and has a 160 kilometre range. Motorists will be able to charge the car at home and eventually from charge points around the city.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said he wanted the city to be the first in New Zealand with an integrated network for electric cars.

"This is a big moment for the city," he said. "It's the beginning of a transition, making it easier to use vehicles powered by electricity. In a sense this is one of the first shifts that we have begun to make.

"Ultimately, charging points [around the city] are what we want. That provides an opportunity for private business to begin to think about."

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