New Zealand Lagging Behind In Race To Electric Car Domination

Posted on Monday, 21 January 2019

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Electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular, with global sales estimated to reach 2 million in 2019 (Forbes).

Here in New Zealand, we’re making baby-steps in the right direction to eco-friendly roads. In September 2018, we hit our first big milestone with over 10,000 electric vehicles on the roads - more than double at the same time in 2017.

However, with 4 million cars on our roads, EVs now make up just 0.25% of our vehicles. Despite these small steps to change, we’re significantly trailing behind the worldwide trajectory. Just to give you a comparison, electric cars made up 52% of new car sales in Norway (Reuters).

Why are we behind?

We need better financial benefits

The NZ government has announced numerous financial incentives such as:

    • A ‘Road User Charges’ exemption for light electric vehicles - this will be extended until they make up 2% of the light vehicle fleet. This saves an EV driver approximately $600 per year.
    • A ‘Road User Charges’ exemption for heavy electric vehicles - this will be continue until they make up 2% of the heavy vehicle fleet. This means significant savings for EV drivers.
    • A tax depreciation rate review to make sure electric vehicles drivers aren’t disadvantaged.

Although our government is working to reduce costs on electric cars, it’s still not enough.

Again, let’s compare against the advanced Norwegians - they exempt electric vehicles entirely from stamp duty and high taxes - plus slap on higher taxes for any other vehicles. What’s more, they offer electric car drivers free chargers, free ferry rides and toll road exemptions.

The NZ government are pioneering a change for New Zealand and evidently aim to make the change to low-emission vehicles, sooner rather than later. As well as reviewing taxes and offering RUC exemptions, electric vehicles will be allowed in bus lanes and high-occupancy vehicle lanes and they’ve invested $5 million dollars over five years for national electric vehicle promotion campaigns.

We’re worried they’ll run out of battery

With around 100 public charging stations across NZ, EVs running out of battery is understandably a concern.

Home is where most charging occurs, however we need to see a bigger shift towards workplace chargers. According to Energy.gov, ‘Employees who have access to workplace charging are six times more likely to own a PEV than those who lack such access.’

With more workplace and public charging stations, we can ease any battery doubts.

The New Zealand government are certainly taking steps in the right direction. The number of charging stations across the country is a high priority for them. The NZTA have announced a package including ‘coordinating activities to support the development and roll-out of public charging infrastructure including providing information and guidance’.

Similarly, their vision of ‘nationwide coverage of fast/ rapid DC charging stations every 75kms across our state highways’ supports this.

Find your current nearest charging stations here.

We need a wider range to choose from

Compared to standard car models, there are a substantially lower amount of electric vehicle makes to choose from.

Although electric cars are cheaper to run, the upfront costs of buying a new electric car remain very high, due to a lack of choice on the market.

One of the largest limitations is that we have a vehicle fleet aged around 14 years - one of the oldest compared to other developed countries. Already evidently relaxed and slow-moving at updating their cars, many NZ residents won’t be able afford to replace their existing cars with new electric cars.

However, the future is bright. With the New Zealand government’s initiative for improve infrastructure, this will call for more demand. Significantly cheaper second hand vehicles will become available.

With many leading companies, such as BMW, vowing to convert their fleet to electric, there’ll be lower cost new options too and hopefully a surge in electric car drivers.

Will New Zealand follow the electric car revolution?

A common theme runs through our reasons for the low electric car uptake – price and infrastructure. While more needs to be done to bring the cost of vehicles down and increase charging facilities, we can see steps are being taken towards a greater adoption on the New Zealand roads.

The NZ government’s target to reach approximately 64,000 electric vehicles in New Zealand, along with numerous initiatives to help reach this, are all huge strides in the right direction to catching up with our Norwegian friends and protecting our planet.

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