The announcement this week from Transport Minister Simon Bridges to increase our use of electric vehicles is a start, but more needs to be done for this segment.
Bridges wants to see 64,000 EVs on New Zealand roads by 2021 and introduced a package that, for a while, extended the Road User Charges exemption on light EVs; investigated bulk purchase of EVs; and launched a promotion campaign. Most of our workday commutes in New Zealand are 28km a day, so it makes sense to look at EVs and plug-in hybrids.
The one point in the package I could see that would encourage purchases was allowing electric vehicles in bus lanes and high-occupancy vehicle lanes on the State Highway network and local roads. You see concessions like this in Los Angeles.
We could also immediately introduce free parking for EVs in city carparks, especially as more and more of our large carpark buildings have charging stations.
Bridges also pointed at: “Government agencies co-ordinating activities to support the development and roll-out of public charging infrastructure.”
The lack of public charging stations is hindering purchases of EVs outside cities and I’d have liked to have seen the Government instead set a date to have the facilities available nationwide.
Another point missing from the package — which has worked well overseas — is incentives to buy EVs. In the US there is a US$7500-plus ($10,874) federal income tax credit, in the UK there is the Plug-in Car Grant, while France has a €7000 bonus and Germany is set to introduce a similar scheme.
The Government is promoting EVs, but for your average Kiwi driver, there have to be more robust concessions.