Will New Zealand Become the Norway of the Pacific?

When I drove around New Zealand in 2005, I was impressed by how well they looked after their own cars, and how British they were. Every yard seemed to be adorned by an old Morris. Well, things have been changing radically as New Zealand aims to become the Norway of the Pacific.

New Zealand does not manufacture any vehicles of its own. It is a small right-hand-drive market. All of its fossil fuels are imported. It is powered primarily by hydropower. New Zealand has massive thermal potential. In my opinion it is one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Fueled by the clean car discount, 12.5% of cars sold in New Zealand in September had a plug. That’s 2,282 EVs. The clean car discount in place since July offers a rebate of up to $8,625 NZD for new EVs and up to $3,450 NZD for used EVs. The NZ government is promising to pay for the rebates by taxing higher-emitting internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. It is a feebate approach. This move was welcomed by New Zealand’s Motor Trade Association.

The New Zealand government wants 30% of the overall fleet to be electric by 2035. To drive the market faster, they have now introduced a rebate for low-income drivers to swap their “clunkers” for EVs. This, coupled with subsidies for the installation of EV chargers, is expected to increase uptake significantly.

“When taken together, we are starting to send signals to the global automotive industry that New Zealand is serious about electrification,” said Drive Electric chair Mark Gilbert. “That’s how we will get a supply of these vehicles. The faster we can get a comprehensive plan in place, the faster we build the confidence of importers and consumers. Let’s hope that the Australian importers that influence the models available in New Zealand wake up and smell the electricity.”

The New Zealand draft plan also includes encouraging people to drive less, including a target to reduce car travel by 20% by 2035, to use bicycles and walk. The fact that petrol in New Zealand is $2.50 a litre and rising will also contribute.


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