What NZ should do to elec­trify its fleet

The New Zealand Herald - - Business - Grant Bradley

New Zealand politi­cians need to get more am­bi­tious with elec­tric ve­hi­cle in­cen­tives if they want to meet tar­gets and are se­ri­ous about cut­ting car­bon emis­sions, says the sec­re­tary gen­eral of the Nor­we­gian Elec­tric Ve­hi­cle As­so­ci­a­tion, Christina Bu.

She says this coun­try should fol­low the lead of Nor­way in tax­ing large, pol­lut­ing pri­vate ve­hi­cles and set more am­bi­tious tar­gets to get more EVs on the road.

“I think politi­cians are ex­ag­ger­at­ing the dif­fi­cul­ties of do­ing some­thing. It doesn't have to be too much but tax­ing the most pol­lut­ing cars that peo­ple don't need to buy and then help and in­cen­tivise the cars that they do want us to buy.''

Bu is in New Zealand meet­ing in­dus­try, fleet buy­ers and politi­cians to dis­cuss what this coun­try can learn from Nor­way's con­ver­sion to elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

Close to 50 per cent of new-car reg­is­tra­tions in Nor­way are now full bat­tery elec­tric or hy­brid cars, helped by tax in­cen­tives and other sweet­en­ers.

Large petrol-driven cars are taxed heav­ily while EV buy­ers don't pay im­port taxes or VAT in Nor­way, where cars and petrol are ex­pen­sive.

Free in­ner-city park­ing at charg­ers and per­mis­sion to use bus lanes also helped boost up­take but these in­cen­tives were be­ing wound back, with more de­ci­sions be­ing made by dif­fer­ent cities.

In Septem­ber, 10,600 new cars sold in Nor­way were elec­tric, dwarf­ing New Zealand's fleet which stands at just 11,000 reg­is­tered EVs, al­though the rate of in­crease in the fleet is ac­cel­er­at­ing.

More than 5000 have been reg­is­tered in this year alone and more than 30 key com­pa­nies have com­mit­ted to a fleet of 30 per cent of EVs by next year.

The last govern­ment set a tar­get of 64,000 EVs in New Zealand by 2021, still a tiny frac­tion of the 3.38 mil­lion light ve­hi­cles on the road.

Bu said cen­tral govern­ment and lo­cal govern­ment agen­cies needed to com­mit to buy­ing more EVs and where ap­pro­pri­ate min­is­te­rial cars should also be elec­tric.

New Zealand, with about 80 per cent of power gen­er­ated from re­new­able sources, was ideally suited for EVs and more of them would avoid the need to im­port ex­pen­sive oil.

Lines com­pany Vec­tor this year said this coun­try needed to build a strong elec­tric­ity in­fra­struc­ture to han­dle elec­tric ve­hi­cle up­take.

It said the amount of power re­quired to charge an EV with a longdis­tance bat­tery, at home in the suburbs, could strain ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

Bu said smart charg­ing could help al­le­vi­ate stress on in­fra­struc­ture and bat­ter­ies in cars could also feed power back to the grid.

Photo / Greg Bowker

Christina Bu, of the Nor­we­gian Elec­tric Ve­hi­cle As­so­ci­a­tion, with an elec­tric VW Golf in Auck­land. Bu is talk­ing to in­dus­try, au­to­mo­tive and Govern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives about Nor­way’s EV rev­o­lu­tion.

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