‘Stack’ of options to boost EV use

The Government is poised to announce a raft of new initiatives to help get more New Zealanders  behind the wheel of electric vehicles (EVs).

This could potentially include swapping  the government’s fleet of petrol cars for EVs, Climate Change and Acting Associate Transport Minister James Shaw said.

Mr Shaw said this week he would be announcing the Government’s EV working programme in about a month.

He had a "whole stack" of policy options which he hoped would make EVs more attractive to consumers and make them more cost competitive compared with conventional petrol cars.

"One of the big [ideas] is asking what the Government is doing to leverage its purchasing power and convert the government’s fleet to electric."

In 2016, the National government promised to make one in every three government cars electric by 2021.

Earlier this year, the Government,  along with  commercial and not-for-profit partners,  stumped up $8 million in a bid to get 64,000 EVs on the road by 2021.Mr Shaw said the Government inherited the 64,000 target from National when it was in power.

"We’re revising that alongside the whole EV policy programme."

As well as looking to revamp the government’s car fleet, he was considering various other options.

They included exploring the idea of increasing exhaust emission standards — something the Productivity Commission recommended in a recent report.

"We’re also examining the Productivity Commission’s proposal for a ‘fee-bates’ scheme — which lowers the upfront cost of EVs and makes them competitive with internal combustion engine cars."

This would mean  high-emitting combustion-engine vehicles would be penalised by having to pay higher registration fees.

He had also been exploring the idea of exempting EVs from fringe benefit tax — a tax paid on most non-cash benefits provided to employees.

He hoped to be able to announce the full work programme in a month or so — "then different components of that programme will drop through over the next 18 months".

Meanwhile, he remained concerned about the roadblocks preventing people getting into EVs.

Last month, the number of EVs on the road passed 10,000 — five years ago that figure was just 210.

But this makes up just 0.25% of New Zealand’s entire vehicle fleet.

And new data from the Ministry of Transport reveals the number of vehicles with an engine greater than 3000cc grew by five times that amount of EVs in 2017.

"Part of the problem is New Zealand lacks the strong incentives — which most other developed countries have — to sell more fuel efficient and climate-friendly cars," Shaw said. 

- Jason Walls


10,000 vehicles times cents per litre not paid as road tax times 52 weeks of filling up equals revenue that is down for maintenance of roads and highways.