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New Zealand ahead of the curve when it comes to electric vehicles

06 May 2016

The New Zealand Government is investing in electric cars with a new package that has been described as both ambitious and wide ranging.

Simon Bridges, Transport Minister, says, “It’s clear that electric vehicles are the future. A move from petrol and diesel to low emission transport is a natural evolution, and it is our aim to encourage that switch sooner, rather than later.”

“The benefits of increasing uptake of electric vehicles are far-reaching. They’re cheaper to run than petrol or diesel vehicles, they’re powered by our abundant renewable electricity supply, and they’ll reduce the amount of emissions that come from the country’s vehicle fleet,” he says. 

The package announced today will tackle and remove barriers that have until now prevented households and business from choosing electric, according to Bridges.

Current barriers include the limited selection of models available; a lack of widespread public charging infrastructure; and lack of awareness about electric vehicles.

“The Government can’t tackle these barriers alone. That’s why we’ve been working closely with the private sector and local government over the last year on what measures we can take that will have the greatest impact. What we’ve come up with together is a strong package of measures that is ambitious and has real substance,” Bridges says.

The Government’s package includes:

  • A target of doubling the number of electric vehicles in New Zealand every year to reach approximately 64,000 by 2021
  • Extending the Road User Charges exemption on light electric vehicles until they make up 2% of the light vehicle fleet
  • A new Road User Charges exemption for heavy electric vehicles until they make up 2% of the heavy vehicle fleet
  • Work across Government and private sector to investigate the bulk purchase of electric vehicles
  • Government agencies coordinating activities to support the development and roll-out of public charging infrastructure including providing information and guidance
  • $1 million annually for a nation-wide electric vehicle information and promotion campaign over five years
  • A contestable fund of up to $6 million per year to encourage and support innovative low emission vehicle projects
  • Allowing electric vehicles in bus lanes and high-occupancy vehicle lanes on the State Highway network and local roads
  • Review of tax depreciation rates and the method for calculating fringe benefit tax to ensure electric vehicles are not being unfairly disadvantaged
  • Establishing an electric vehicles leadership group across business, local and central government.

The package also seeks to realise the many benefits that electric vehicles offer up, according to Bridges.

“This includes annual savings of Road User Charges of $600 a year for the average vehicle owner and much cheaper operating costs. On average, charging an electric vehicle at home is equivalent to buying petrol at 30 cents a litre, compared to petrol which is around $2 a litre," he says.

Bridges says the package is an important part of the Government’s work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector.

“Electric vehicles will maximise New Zealand’s renewable advantage, with more than 80% of the country’s electricity coming from hydro, geothermal and wind.  The increased use of electric vehicles will replace petrol and diesel with clean, green, locally produced energy.

“If we start to replace New Zealand’s fleet with electric vehicles, we can begin to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” says Bridges.

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