9 Jul 2019

Government reveals road map to cleaner, cheaper vehicles

From Checkpoint, 5:27 pm on 9 July 2019

Motorists are tentatively welcoming the government's plans to make electric vehicles more affordable - while cranking up the costs for pricey gas guzzlers coming into the country. 

A new fuel efficiency proposal, revealed today, incentivises bringing more fuel-efficient cars into the country, while raising the price for vehicles with a bigger carbon footprint.

The new policy also sets an emissions standard, which would take effect from 2025. 

From 2021, it's proposed there will be a sliding scale with an $8000 discount for a new electric vehicle, $6800 for a plug-in hybrid, and smaller discounts for other types of fuel-efficient vehicles. Efficient used imports get roughly half the discount. There will be fees for those that emit more than 180 grams of carbon dioxide every kilometre. 

Watch Michael Cropp's full video report:

Those discounts will gradually decrease every year after 2021, as the emission point at which cars start attracting fees also drops.

A spokesperson for associate transport minister Julie Anne Genter said: "The discounts reduce over time to allow for the expected uptake of low-emission vehicles. The level of fees and discounts would be reviewed over time to ensure it is effective in encouraging low-emission vehicles and that the level of discounts paid out is largely in balance with the level of fees received."

Those tailpipe emissions will be determined by the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure, which is supposed to provide a more realistic assessment of the cars while also being harder to cheat. 

In New Zealand, transport accounts for a fifth of our total emissions, and light vehicles account for two-thirds of those. The transport sector's emissions grew about 83-percent between 1990 and 2017. 

That compares with just a 23 percent increase for the rest of the economy. 

The government says it is aiming to make all Crown cars electric in 7 years' time. 

The Minister Responsible for Ministerial Services, Chris Hipkins, said: "About 30 percent of the Crown cars are electric - that's up from 2 percent in late 2017.

"The government intends to transition its full fleet to emissions free vehicles by 2026," he said.  

"The contract for the BMW 7-series is up for renewal at the end of this year and the government is considering its options."

But not all vehicles would be emissions-free as Mr Hipkins said the government was waiting for more options to come on the market.

People have until  20 August to tell the government whether they think this policy will help New Zealand meet its carbon reduction ambitions.