INDEPENDENT NEWS

Bridges pushes NZ as 'most ready' for electric cars

Published: Thu 5 Mar 2015 11:45 AM
Bridges pushes NZ as 'most ready in the world' for electric cars
By Pattrick Smellie
March 5 (BusinessDesk) - Transport and Energy Minister Simon Bridges has officials investigating ways to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles, although is ruling out incentives or subsidies in what he says is "the most EV-ready country in the world" because of New Zealand's very high proportion of electricity generated from renewable resources.
Speaking to an energy conference in Auckland yesterday, Bridges said he had "tasked the Ministry of Transport to provide advice on whether the government can play a role in facilitating early uptake of EVs and, if so, what options are available."
EVs have barely begun to become available in New Zealand, although sales figures of 400 in 2014 were an exponential increase on 2013. Electricity companies, in particular, but other commercial fleet operators, were also looking at the potential for at least partial fleet replacement with EVs, Bridges told BusinessDesk.
"The question is: what can we do to encourage commercial fleets to go EV?" said Bridges, with between 60 percent and 80 percent of all new vehicle purchases in New Zealand being made by commercial fleet owners, including government agencies. Higher initial costs of EVs are said to be offset over time by lower running and maintenance costs.
New Zealand is unusual for having around 80 percent of its electricity generated from renewable hydro, wind and geothermal power stations, making EVs a potentially meaningful way of "de-carbonising" the New Zealand economy. In countries with high proportions of gas and coal-fired electricity generation, the use of EVs raises questions about the efficiency of replacing fossil fuels in vehicle engines with electricity generated from other fossil fuels.
Bridges said New Zealand was also unusual for having very high proportions of off-street residential parking, reducing the need for investment in charging technology, since cars could be recharged straight from a three point plug.
The average New Zealand car journey, at 33 kilometres, was well within the range of EVs on the market today.
"In an urban setting, nearly everyone could have an EV without an impact on their driving range," said Bridges, who said the government would "take a lot of convincing" to subsidise or incentivise EV ownership and declined to comment on whether issues such as depreciation rates or barriers to uptake created by leasing firms' caution about committing to a new kind of vehicle would be among issues addressed in advice he expects to receive in coming months.
The issue was not one for the 2015 Budget, but Bridges said he hoped to have "more to say on this later this year."
Promotion of faster EV uptake is being pushed by electricity companies, particularly Mighty River Power, has support from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, and the rebranded lobby group for electric vehicles, now known as Drive Electric.
(BusinessDesk)
BusinessDesk
Independent, Trustworthy New Zealand Business News
The Wellington-based BusinessDesk team led by former Bloomberg Asian top editor Jonathan Underhill and Qantas Award-winning journalist and commentator Pattrick Smellie provides a daily news feed for a serious business audience.
Contact BusinessDesk
Email:

Next in Business, Science, and Tech

Employers told to pay minimum wage or risk prosecution
By: RNZ
More migrants head back overseas
By: Statistics New Zealand
Red Zone used to boost endangered bee population
By: New Zealand Government
Insurers spend $34 million on soft commissions
By: Financial Markets Authority
Facial recognition tech not reliable - privacy commissioner
By: RNZ
Cheesemakers have a reason to smile
By: New Zealand Government
Unpaid work: Businesses could go under back-paying staff
By: RNZ
Briscoe to reimburse staff for unpaid end-of-day cash up
By: BusinessDesk
First Union prepares to do battle with other employers
By: BusinessDesk
Migrant Worker Rights
By: Employers Assistance Ltd
Report highlights importance of transparency and disclosure
By: Financial Services Council
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILEWe're in BETA! Send Feedback © Scoop Media