The Timaru Herald

Government offers $8k discount on EVs

- Thomas Coughlan

People buying new electric vehicles (EVs) will be eligible for a discount of up to $8625 from next month in a Government initiative to get more people into cleaner cars, reviving a plan from last term that was blocked by NZ First.

Cars worth up to $80,000 are eligible for the discount, meaning at least one model of Tesla is eligible as well as more popular EVs like the Nissan Leaf.

The discounts are not just for new imported EVs. People purchasing used import EVs, new or used imported plug-in hybrids, as well as ordinary internalco­mbustion vehicles that pollute less, will also be eligible for discounts depending on their emissions profile.

The discounts for these cars vary depending on their emissions but a new Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid would get a discount of $5750.

The Government will pay for the discounts by putting a fee on emitting vehicles – meaning the scheme does not end up costing the Crown. The fees go up to $5175 for a new import or $2875 for a used import. The charges could also be relatively small – the Mitsubishi ASX would incur a fee of $530.

The scheme, called the Clean Car Discount, was unveiled by Transport Minister Michael Wood and Climate Change Minister James Shaw yesterday. It will work alongside another policy, the Clean Car Standard, which incentivis­es importers to bring cleaner cars to New Zealand.

Both policies are largely the same as two schemes unveiled by the previous Government which were blocked by NZ First.

Shaw paid tribute to the work of his Green Party colleague, Julie Anne Genter, who was in charge of the scheme last term.

Wood said that the discounts would help New Zealand catch up with the rest of the world in its

uptake of EVs. ‘‘New Zealand is actually lagging behind on the uptake of EVs, so we are playing catch-up internatio­nally. Our monthly registrati­ons of EVs are about half the global average and sales are well below the 50 per cent of monthly sales seen in some European countries.’’

Wood added that because the policy applied only to the import market, the market for used vehicles would not be affected.

‘‘The policy only applies to new and used cars arriving in New Zealand, so the existing second-hand market of cars that lower income families tend to purchase from will not be affected,’’ Wood said.

Purchasers of the cars would either collect discounts or pay fees through Waka Kotahi-NZ Transport Agency when they first registered their vehicles.

Buyers could collect discounts for EVs and plug-in hybrids registered after July 1. It is still possible to get a discount for a car purchased before that date but only if the buyer delays registerin­g that car until July 1. From next year, smaller discounts for vehicles that cannot be plugged-in but which emit low amounts of carbon dioxide will be available.

The fees for high-emissions vehicles will apply from January 1, 2022. The Government has loaned itself about $300 million to get the scheme running in the interim but the fees are designed to be fiscally neutral over the long term, meaning fees on polluting vehicles pay for discounts on clean ones.

The fees and discounts may be adjusted each year to ensure the scheme stays fiscally neutral.

National and ACT MPs oppose the scheme. ACT Party leader David Seymour said it broke Labour’s promise of no new taxes beyond those in its 2020 manifesto. ‘‘Labour is breaking its promise ... by slapping new taxes on tradies, farmers and large families.’’

National Party leader Judith Collins tweeted that the policy had been ‘‘brought back from the dead ... National will fight Labour’s Car Tax every step of the way’’.

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