Weekend Sun column

Friday, May 13, 2016

Last week I announced the Government’s Electric Vehicles programme, which is an ambitious and wide ranging package of measures that will remove barriers and accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles in New Zealand.

New Zealand is the ideal environment for electric vehicles. With more than 80 per cent of the country’s electricity coming from hydro, geothermal and wind, electric vehicles will maximise New Zealand’s renewable advantage. The increased use of electric vehicles will replace petrol and diesel with clean, green, locally produced energy.

The benefits of increasing the uptake of electric vehicles are far-reaching. They are cheaper to run than petrol or diesel vehicles, they are powered by our abundant renewable electricity supply, and they will reduce the amount of emissions that come from the country’s vehicle fleet.

In fact, I am so convinced by the benefits of electric vehicles that I am currently in the market for one myself.

By 2021 we aim to have around 64,000 electric vehicles on New Zealand roads. To assist us in reaching this target, the package includes a contestable fund of up to $6 million per year to encourage and support innovative low emission vehicle projects. An annual fund of $1 million will also be included to contribute towards a nation-wide electric vehicle information and promotion campaign over five years.

We are also extending the Road User Charges exemption on light electric vehicles until they make up two per cent of the vehicle fleet, saving them around $600 a year.

If we start now on the replacement of New Zealand’s fleet with electric vehicles, we can begin to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and reinforce New Zealand’s image as a clean, green and renewable country.