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Budget Funding A Chance To Supercharge EV Pick-up

Budget 2021’s investment of over $380m towards supporting up-take of electric vehicles is an important move that has the potential to create a step-change in New Zealand’s journey to sustainable transport, says Drive Electric Chair Mark Gilbert.

Budget 2021 contains $41m for the Low Emission Transport Fund, which will be an expansion (both in terms of scope and size) of the existing Low Emission Vehicle Contestable Fund, $42m for government agencies to lease low-emission vehicles, and tags $302m* for a new initiative to support EV uptake, details of which are still being finalised.

“The combination of these investments should lead to many more electric vehicles on our roads in coming years,” says Gilbert.

“As electric vehicle uptake has accelerated in recent years in other countries, New Zealand has lagged behind. In countries like Norway, more than 80% of new light vehicles entering the fleet are electric or hybrids, while in New Zealand the figure remains below 5%.

“Each fossil fuel burning vehicle entering New Zealand today will be part of our national fleet for an average of 15 to 20 years. If we are to achieve our carbon zero targets, we need to start buying electric now.

“The investment in increasing the number of electric vehicles in government fleets is an important act of leadership, and helps grow the number of secondhand vehicles on the market over time. Further investment will be needed to decarbonise the 15,000 vehicles in the government fleet.

“For consumers we know that, while electric vehicles have much lower running costs and maintenance costs than fossil-fuel burning vehicles, the higher upfront cost remains a barrier. The coming Clean Car Import Standards, along with these new government investments, we hope will help reduce the upfront cost of buying an electric car. They will mean New Zealand joins the electric revolution, rather than becoming a dumping ground for fossil fuel burning vehicles that other countries don’t want.

“Changing to a sustainable transport system will be a big investment over many years but the benefits, in reduced emissions, reduced air pollution, and slashing the billions New Zealand spends each year on oil imports, is worth that investment, many times over,” says Gilbert.


*The $302m investment is referenced as a “tagged contingency” in the Budget documents, which states:

Incentivising Uptake of Low-Emission Vehicles (p. 103)

This initiative will build demand for buyers of zero and low-emission vehicles. This funding will enable Waka Kotahi to implement the system, and is being held as a tagged contingency while design work is completed.


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