Govt plan to get Kiwis into electric cars a month away

Author
NZ Herald,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Friday, 5 October 2018, 3:20p.m.
Acting Associate Transport Minister James Shaw has a range of options to get people driving EVs. Photo / NZME
Acting Associate Transport Minister James Shaw has a range of options to get people driving EVs. Photo / NZME

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

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

Speaking to the Herald, Shaw said he would be announcing the Government's EV working programme in about a month.

He has a "whole stack" of policy options which he hopes would make EVs more attractive to consumers and make them more cost competitive compared to 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 previous National Government promised to make one in every three Government cars electric by 2021.

Earlier this year, the Government – along with some commercial and not-for-profit partners – stumped up $8 million in a bid to get 64,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2021.

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, there are number of other options Shaw is considering.

These include exploring the idea of increasing tail pipe emission standards – something the Productivity Commission recommended in a recent report.

"We're also examining the Productivity Commission's proposal for a feebates scheme – which lowers the upfront cost of EVs and makes them competitive with internal combustion engine cars."

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

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

He is hoping 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 remains concerned about the roadblocks preventing people getting into EVs.

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

But this makes up just 0.25 per cent 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.

He is hoping his new policy initiatives will help solve this problem.

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