EV owners slow on the pedal

Alistair Gilmour displays a road-user charge sticker, which will be required for all electric...
Alistair Gilmour displays a road-user charge sticker, which will be required for all electric vehicles from Saturday. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Thousands of electric vehicle owners are yet to pay their road-user charges licences as the grace period rapidly comes to an end.

EVs were introduced into the road-user charge scheme on April 1, but Transport Minister Simeon Brown gave owners a two-month grace period.

NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi spokesman Andy Knackstedt said as of yesterday 69% (72,503) of New Zealand’s 105,105 electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid drivers had bought their RUC licence.

"We’re encouraging people not to leave it to the last minute, as there will be penalties. If you haven’t already bought your licence, now’s the time.

"When you buy RUC, you pre-pay for the distance you’re going to travel, in units of 1000km. The RUC rate for EVs is $76 per 1000km, and $38 per 1000km for plug-in hybrid vehicles, because they also pay tax through petrol. There is also an admin fee of $12.44 if you buy online, or $13.71 if you buy through an agent."

The revenue collected from road-user charges is dedicated to the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF). The NLTF funded new roads, improvements and maintenance, public transport, road safety, and walking and cycling, he said.

Dunedin EV owner Pam McKinlay said it was not a surprise many had not paid for their RUC licence yet.

"Road-user charges have been on the books since 2021. It’s just that its time has come.

"If you’ve never done it before, it’s actually a bit confusing to pay for the road-user charges. I expect some EV owners will be waiting to do it when they renew their warrant.

"It’s easier to do it in person if you’ve never done it before. Just go to your post office or Vehicle Testing New Zealand station."

Gilmour Automotive & EV Cars owner Alistair Gilmour said even after road-user charges had been calculated, EVs were still the most efficient cars around.

"The equivalent is running a 400cc motorcycle; it’s a no-brainer — you can’t take your wife or your dog with you on your motorcycle.

"But for a lot of people, they’re not driving them because they’re the cheapest form of transport; they’re driving because they love them."

Mr Gilmour said the recently scrapped clean-car discount had created a "bit of an anomaly" in the EV market.

"Giving someone an $8000 rebate at the top end for a Tesla wasn’t necessarily going to create a market for the young families who really needed the vehicle.

"I don’t think it was at the end of the market that needed the help."