New Zealand Transport Minister Simon Bridges has announced an ambitious and wide-ranging package of measures to increase the uptake of electric vehicles.

Launching the package last week, Bridges said the benefits of electric vehicles are “far-reaching”.

“They’re cheaper to run than petrol or diesel vehicles, they’re powered by our abundant renewable electricity supply and they’ll reduce the amount of emissions that come from the country’s vehicle fleet,” he said.

The package will tackle and remove barriers that have until now prevented households and business from choosing electric vehicles, including the limited selection of models available, a lack of widespread public charging infrastructure and a lack of awareness about electric vehicles in general.

Developed in consultation with the private sector and local government over the past year, the package includes:

  • a target of doubling the number of electric vehicles in New Zealand every year to reach approximately 64,000 by 2021
  • extending the road user charges exemption on light electric vehicles until they make up 2% of the light vehicle fleet
  • a new road user charges exemption for heavy electric vehicles until they make up 2% of the heavy vehicle fleet
  • work across government and private sector to investigate the bulk purchase of electric vehicles
  • government agencies coordinating activities to support the development and rollout of public charging infrastructure, including providing information and guidance
  • $1 million annually for a nationwide electric vehicle information and promotion campaign over five years
  • a contestable fund of up to $6 million per year to encourage and support innovative low-emission vehicle projects
  • allowing electric vehicles in bus lanes and high-occupancy vehicle lanes on the state highway network and local roads
  • a review of tax depreciation rates and the method for calculating fringe benefit tax to ensure electric vehicles are not being unfairly disadvantaged
  • establishing an electric vehicles leadership group across business, local and central government.

The package also seeks to realise the many benefits that electric vehicles offer, including annual savings of road user charges of $600 a year for the average vehicle owner and cheaper operating costs, said Bridges.

“On average, charging an electric vehicle at home is equivalent to buying petrol at 30 cents a litre, compared to petrol which is around $2 a litre,” he said.

Further information on the Electric Vehicles Programme is available at www.transport.govt.nz/ev.

Extracted in full from Sustainability Matters.