Southlanders not swayed by EV subsidy: survey

Barriers to owning an EV were concerns about battery life, range, towing ability, off-road...
Barriers to owning an EV were concerns about battery life, range, towing ability, off-road options and upfront costs, the survey showed. Photo: Getty Images
While anxiety and cost are factors why Southlanders don't want electric vehicles, a study shows the Government's Clean Car Subsidy made them even less likely to buy one.

The results of a Great South survey in June aimed to find out why the region has one of the lowest EV ownership in the country and the agency says barriers can be overcome.

Only Gisborne and the West Coast had lower rates than Southland.

Strategic Projects general manager Steve Canny previously told the Otago Daily Times the Southland EV ownership rate sat at just 0.75 vehicles per 1000 people.

"For example, Auckland 6.9 per 1000, Wellington 6 per 1000, Canterbury 5.75 per 1000 and Otago 4.14 per 1000."

The study updated the figure to 0.67 vehicles per 1000 people for Southland.

It was aimed at owners of farm vehicles, fleet vehicles, courier vans and cars. Mr Canny had said it was important as Great South undertook work to map out a pathway towards net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier for the region.

A total of 1000 survey responses were received, 75% of those were from individuals, while 25% were from self-employed or businesses.

Mr Canny said business respondents further noted towing ability and need for off-road vehicle options as barriers to getting an EV.

“There are certainly challenges for Southland around the transition from petrol and diesel vehicles to EV, but a number of leading manufacturers are now producing SUV and 4WD utilities ideally suited to both the agricultural and commercial sectors, which should be available from 2023."

By then, prices would likely drop with an increase in production and competition, he explained.

“Farm bikes and side-by-side utility terrain vehicles are already available in Southland and their use is increasing.”

The New Zealand Government is encouraging a move to EVs as part of its drive towards a net-zero emissions economy, and part way through the survey collection announced a rebate scheme to encourage EV purchase.

From 2022, it is proposed that high-emitting vehicles be charged a levy to cover the subsidy.

Overall, 74% of business and 46% of households were not supportive, with a large number undecided, the survey showed.

"Most significantly, the announcement of the clean car subsidy reduced the likelihood that Southlanders would purchase an EV or Hybrid vehicle. This was even the case for those within the subset respondents with strong support for climate change action."

It supposed the reason for the decrease in likely EV or Hybrid uptake, was a change in the type of people who answered the survey after the announcement.

However, it figured this would mean the overall survey would more accurately represent the views of the Southland population as a whole.

A large number of comments also expressed frustration at the prospect of effectively being taxed for ‘dirty’ vehicles while having no viable alternatives.

EV uptake is also one of the options identified in the Net Zero Southland Report that would help Southland reach net zero before 2050.

The study also showed having previously driven an EV increased the likelihood that a respondent would consider an EV.

Mr Canny said many of the areas of concern, including battery life, range and upfront cost were already being addressed by manufacturers and industry groups.

“Batteries are often under warranty for five to eight years, with an expected lifespan of up to 15 years, so the total cost can often still work out cheaper than owning a petrol or diesel vehicle.”

Great South planned to use these findings to develop projects to address and overcome the key barriers and concerns.



Where do you recharge an EV in the back blocks? Can you carry extra electricity with you like you can diesel? Could be a minor problem.


Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter