Weekend Herald




What’s everyone waiting for? Electric Vehicles (EVs) are easy-to-drive, easy-to-own machines that don’t cover cityscapes in poisonous soot or produce motor noise barrages that make every night sound like Guy Fawkes.

Such a high percentage of New Zealand’s electricit­y is generated from renewable sources that this country is right up with Norway when it comes to the limited environmen­tal impact of electric vehicle use. This is the reason that just about every Norwegian drives an EV these days. Us? Not so much.

That ease of ownership factor just got quite a bit easier thanks to the Government’s introducti­on of the Clean Car Discount on July 1. It provides rebates on the purchase prices of electric vehicles to make them more affordable. There’s never been a better time to buy a recently imported electric vehicle in this country than right now.

Register a new fully electric vehicle (Battery EV) where all motive power is supplied by a battery, and you can apply to have $8625 deposited in the bank account of your choice. Register a new Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), where an enlarged battery can enable it to travel a reasonable distance on magnetic power alone before a combustion enginetake­s over, and you’ll get $5750. Secondhand BEV and PHEV imports also qualify, earning rebates of $3450 and $2300 respective­ly.

So, what does qualify for the discount? When it comes to new vehicles, the most accessible BEV is the MG ZS EV compact SUV ($48,990) while the plug-in Toyota Prius Prime hybrid ($49,790) is likely to sit near the top of PHEV shopping lists along with New Zealand’s best-selling plug-in hybrid, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (from $52,990).

Those who value the lower running costs of a BEV are also likely to look at the Kia Niro EV ($77,990), the Hyundai Ioniq Electric II (from $65,990) and Hyundai Kona Electric II (from $69,990). The Niro and the Ioniq can also be bought with PHEV powertrain­s, from $55,990 and $53,990 respective­ly.

Got your heart set on a Tesla? Only the base Model 3 sedan ($66,900) is eligible for the rebate. Subtract the appropriat­e discount from these prices to get the real cost of these new cars.

What’s the catch? The rebates don’t apply to EVs already registered here, and the new registrati­ons have to be of new or second-hand vehicle imports costing less than $80,000 (including GST and on-road costs) that have earned more than three stars in new car assessment crash tests. Go to the https://rightcar. govt.nz website to see if your potential BEV or PHEV purchase meets the latter condition. Luxury BEVs like the Porsche Taycan, the majority of Tesla models, Jaguar’s sleek I-Pace and the Audi RS e-tron GT are therefore ineligible for the discount as they far exceed the cut-off purchase price.

Also excluded are a wave of cheap BEVs that could potentiall­y descend upon us from India and China as they are unlikely to meet the crash test criteria. So, apologies if you had your heart set on a new Mahindra eVerito sedan or the world’s most affordable BEV — the Ora R1 from China’s Great Wall Motors.

Both our new vehicle and second-hand vehicle distributo­rs are rapidly gearing up to import more EVs that are eligible for the rebates. This expansion of the Kiwi electric vehicle sector will coincide with a global ramping up of EV supply, as the new battery factories that have been built by large motor corporatio­ns and their electronic partners in recent years kick into production.

With the amortisati­on of the high cost of EV components such as batteries, motors and inverters over a far greater number of units, BEV and PHEV prices should fall significan­tly over the next two years, allowing more new vehicle models to qualify for the discounts here.

Rebates will be available until 31 December 2021, after which the full Clean Car Discount will take effect, subject to the necessary legislatio­n being passed.

From 2022 it’s proposed that the scheme will involve rebates and fees for imported new and used vehicles, based on their CO2 ratings, rewarding those who have chosen to buy a vehicle that can be operated without producing emissions with similar rebates to those currently offered. The full scheme will also increase the cost of registerin­g new and secondhand imports of high-emission vehicles, helping Treasury balance its books.

New Zealand has lagged behind most other G20 nations in introducin­g discounts that encourage the sales of EVs. Norway now has an EV fleet that accounts for 60 per cent of motorised personal transport there.

The Clean Car Discount is a crucial step towards NZ being able to meet the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. In March this year, there were just 25,000 light electric vehicles on our roads, a total that equates to just 0.6 per cent of our light vehicle fleet. With transport generating 47 per cent of all carbon emissions in New Zealand, more than 50 per cent of monthly vehicle sales here need to be of electric vehicles to meet that carbon zero goal by 2050.

To find out more, visit https://www.nzta.govt.nz/vehicles/clean-car-programme/clean-cardiscoun­t/

● Next week: BEV or PHEV: which should you choose?

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