16 Jun 2021

Utes big ticket items at Fieldays 2021

5:51 pm on 16 June 2021

Thousands of farmers flocked to the first day of Fieldays today, the Southern Hemisphere's largest agricultural event.

Fieldays 2021 at Mystery Creek, near Hamilton.

Photo: RNZ / Maja Burry

Last year's event was cancelled because of Covid-19, so expectations were high for the more than 1000 exhibitors who were back to put their wares on display.

The last time the event was held at Mystery Creek, near Kirikiriroa-Hamilton in 2019, it generated $500 million in sales for New Zealand businesses.

Some of the big ticket items are utes and, with the recent EV policy announcement, farmers are expecting to soon pay fees when they buy fossil fuel vehicles for their farms.

From July this year, people buying new electric vehicles could get a rebate from the government.

The scheme would be funded partly through levies on new high-emissions vehicle imports, kicking in next year.

Dairy Flat farmer Dave Taylor told RNZ there were no electric vehicles that could take the load he needed to tow - including a pack of farm dogs.

"We're always towing trailers, horse floats, other vehicles, [carrying] quads, dogs, crates, hay, all sorts."

Another buyer was Thames farmer and businessman Peter Fullerton-Smith.

"For us, we know that we're going to turn this vehicle over pretty quickly because we do high kilometres," he told RNZ.

"In three or four years time, it'll be time to buy a new vehicle again and maybe by then the EV market for utes is improved or not."

Richard Wason travelled to Fieldays from Te Anau and bought a new ute that is due to arrive in August.

He said electric vehicles were not up to spec for his needs.

"We're too far away from any city, a battery car is no good for us," Wason said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visited Fieldays today and said there were alternative vehicles that would not attract fees which manufacturers were promoting as being in the pipeline.

"None of this applies to existing vehicles in the country - those in the second-market, those already here - it's only new and new imports. There are options available to avoid the fees regime."

General Motors spokesperson Ed Finn said it was too early to speculate when electric vehicles suitable for heavy-duty farm work would arrive in New Zealand.

"Unfortunately, the vehicles we have in our portfolio at the moment don't qualify for any rebates."

Isuzu spokesperson Kimberley Waters also said there was nothing in the pipeline just yet.

"From a ute perspective, there's nothing in the pipeline as far as what we're aware of here in New Zealand."

Taylor said the fee was unfair given there were unlikely to be electric utes available before it kicked in.

He said he would consider buying an electric or hybrid ute.

"Yeah, as long as they had the power and could do the job at a reasonable price compared with what we've got now," he said.

"At this stage, there's nothing."

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