Do the math!

Motor Equipment News - - CONTENTS -

So we have a quandary for the Govern­ment. A coun­try­wide fuel tax hike has been pro­posed – 10c a litre has been men­tioned – os­ten­si­bly to up­grade ru­ral roads. And that’s on top of the ex­tra 10c a litre Auck­land re­gion mo­torists are go­ing to have to fork out to pay for new pub­lic trans­port sys­tems.

How­ever, at the same time the Bee­hive lot want us all to switch to elec­tric cars, with a tar­get of 64,000 EVs in New Zealand by 2021. So… EV own­ers are cur­rently ex­empt from road user charges, and will be un­til De­cem­ber 2021. They don’t pay any petrol taxes, and they pay re­duced ACC levies. A di­chotomy of note. Yet with all these in­cen­tives, the up­take on EVs hasn’t been as quick as it might have been, and most of them are im­ported used Nis­san Leafs, with their lim­ited range and, on ex-UK cars, re­ports of over-rapid bat­tery de­te­ri­o­ra­tion.

Strangely enough the best-sell­ing EV for the first quar­ter of this year has been the Tesla Model S, which tells you some­thing about the de­mo­graph­ics of own­ers of new EVs, since the low­est-priced ver­sion comes in at over $120,000 (in­clud­ing on-road costs). And will save (ac­cord­ing to Tesla) $5,000 in petrol over five years.

Yes, there are less-ex­pen­sive EVs com­ing into the mix, and this will con­tinue, hope­fully at the same time bring­ing down prices.

But al­ready the up­take on EVs has slowed down, al­though elec­tric charg­ing sys­tems provider Charge­mas­ter says the drop-off can be at­trib­uted a stink bug in­fes­ta­tions that in­ter­rupted im­ports of used cars out of Asia. Or maybe the pent-up de­mand from early adopters is dry­ing up.

What­ever, what none of this ad­dresses is the fact that the av­er­age age of the around four-mil­lion car parc in New Zealand is 14 years. And one has to won­der if it wouldn’t be bet­ter for the Govern­ment to con­cen­trate on get­ting lots of peo­ple out of their old, gas-guz­zling pol­lu­tant ve­hi­cles and into more mod­ern ones which use less petrol and don’t pump out nearly as much CO2, rather than spend­ing money on putting a rel­a­tively few peo­ple into ve­hi­cles that emit no CO2.

As Amer­i­cans say, “Do the math.”

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