AA BUYER’S GUIDE: Save money, save the environment
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As petrol prices exceed the $3 per litre mark and possibly head towards $4, more people are now looking far more seriously at ways to reduce vehicle running costs.
AA principal policy adviser Terry Collins previously predicted petrol prices would top $3 and he has taken that a step further now, saying it's possible fuel could reach that $4 mark. It may not happen this year, but shifting demand in Europe will place upward pressure on the market.
"I don't think people fully realise the long-term impact this conflict will have," says Collins.
With the Clean Car programme coming into effect last July, and from April 2022 vehicles with zero or low emissions qualifying for a rebate and those with high emissions incurring a fee, many motorists are looking at alternative options.
Motorists are now considering replacing their vehicle with an alternative that may suit their lifestyle, but at the same time reducing/removing petrol as a running cost. And softening their carbon footprint of course.
Typically, members we are hearing from drive a conventional larger family vehicle along with a small runabout, both powered by an internal combustion (ICE) alone. They enjoy a leisurely family trip away a few times in the year and have an everyday commute of about 30km.
These members want to reduce their vehicle running costs. They are considering different scenarios. Do I replace both vehicles with an EV? Could it suit both the family road trip and the urban commute? Do I keep the road-trip SUV and get an EV for around-town?
Here are some of the popular solutions to consider.
Buying a used electric vehicle to replace the small runabout
This is often a popular budget conscious choice. A good used Nissan Leaf will set you back about $15,000-$20,000 and have a range of 100-150km, providing the battery is serviceable.
This is perfect for the school run, shopping and around-town trips. It’s a relatively small outlay and if you buy one that has not been registered yet, you could be eligible for a maximum rebate of $3450 currently. From 1 April 2022, it’s $3000 on a used electric vehicle such as the Nissan Leaf, if it meets the Clean Car discount criteria.
Buying a new Hybrid Electrified Vehicle (HEV)
Hybrid vehicles have the flexibility of great fuel economy and still can venture further afield – perfect for that long family road trip. Hybrid models have become increasingly popular, with models like the Toyota RAV4 having wait times from four to six months due.
The latest RAV4 hybrid SUV recently achieved a double victory, winning the 2021 AA DRIVEN NZ Car of the Year: Best Medium SUV and the 2021 AA DRIVEN NZ Car of the Year: Best Clean & Green Hybrid.
The RAV4 hybrid boasts excellent fuel economy, sipping just 4.8l/100km and produces just 109g/km of C02. From 1 April 2022 it will be eligible for a Clean Car rebate, which is an added sweetener. Price-wise a new hybrid model is not significantly higher to the cost of a conventional ICE variant.
Buying a new Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
A PHEV is a good Swiss Army Knife solution. New PHEVs have a decent range for around town and the flexibility to shift into hybrid operation once the energy is depleted. There have been some quite compelling SUV options perfect for the family recently, and we envision more to come to the market.
Take the Kia Sorento PHEV EX AWD, which is currently on offer for $74,990. It boasts an all-electric range of up to 57km, fuel economy of just 1.6l/km and C02 output of 35g/km. There is also ample space for seven, so that family road trip would be no problem.
Another option could be the slightly more affordable Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV, a smaller five-seater alternative at $50,990. The Eclipse Cross also has a low fuel consumption of 1.9l/km and a C02 output of 43g/km. Both models are also currently eligible for the Clean Car Discount.
Buying a new Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)
There has been a lot more choice in the BEV world in the past year, especially below the $80,000 mark. Although some say they are more expensive than ICE vehicles, thanks to the Clean Car Discount this margin is smaller than before.
The entry level Tesla Model 3 is a perfect example, with an impressive range of 491km, some of the latest and advanced features in the world and a price tag of $70,943; or after the Clean Car discount is applied, $62,318.
Other compelling options include the winner of the 2021 AA DRIVEN NZ Car of the Year: Best Luxury Car, the Hyundai Ioniq 5, the winner of the 2021 AA DRIVEN NZ Car of the Year: Best Clean & Green
BEV category, the Peugeot e-208 and the exciting new Polestar 2. All are broadening the range with more affordable fully electric options.
Replacing two petrol cars with one BEV is now a more realistic option for city dwellers, with the improved range offered by these newcomers to the electrified class. A new BEV may now be the perfect option, particularly as the charging infrastructure improves throughout the country.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are now a lot more options available for NZ motorists. All classes for electrified models grew by up to 345 per cent in 2021.