The Rise of Electric Vehicles in New Zealand

First published on 17/06/202

From the rise of Tesla Motors to auto industry juggernauts like Daimler arguing that 'the future is electric', it is clear that we are living in an era of massive disruption within the auto industry. This monumental shift from fossil fuel vehicles to electric vehicles is rapidly proceeding.

It’s safe to say that there is no turning back. This is true in markets all across the world—including New Zealand. According to Drive Electric, there are 20,337 electric vehicles registered in New Zealand. This number will certainly rise in the years to come.

Whether or not you are interested in purchasing an electric vehicle, it is helpful to understand the current landscape of the electric vehicle industry in our country. By doing so, you can gain an appreciation of the way that electric vehicles are transforming the New Zealand auto market today.

Electric vehicles have become a mainstay in New Zealand due to several factors

Let’s start with one of the most significant major players in encouraging electric car use in our country: the New Zealand government. The government has created several types of incentives to promote the growth of electric cars in our country. It all started in May 2016, when the government announced an Electric Vehicles Programme. The Programme, among other things, was designed to increase the number of electric vehicles in New Zealand to approximately 64,000 by 2021.

The Programme contains several different measures to accomplish this goal. For instance, the government has offered tax incentives to those who purchase electric vehicles. Until light and heavy electric vehicles comprise two percent of their respective fleets, owners of those vehicles are eligible for the Road User Charges (“RUC”) exemption. The government itself is also investing heavily in electric vehicles, having added 15 new electric vehicle models to a government vehicles contract. Critically, the New Zealand Transport Agency is also working to rapidly roll-out public charging infrastructure throughout the country. Because range anxiety is one roadblock to the mass adoption of electric vehicles, local and central government agencies, technology providers, and the auto industry are working together to create a widespread charging network throughout the country.

Beyond the government’s investment in the Programme, however, New Zealand is a perfect site for the electric vehicle revolution because of its inherent makeup. To start, there is  enough electricity in our country for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Even assuming that every vehicle on our roads is electric, there is enough generation capacity to charge these vehicles. Even small things—like the fact that many New Zealanders, because of off-street parking, can easily leverage overnight home charging—meaning that the conditions are ripe for widespread electric vehicle adoption. Ultimately, because so much of New Zealand’s energy is generated from renewable resources, increased use of electric vehicles can produce a stunning 80 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to other nations.

Automakers both large and small have certainly noticed the current and future potential of electric vehicles in New Zealand. Manufacturers like Hyundai, Nissan, BMW, and Renault have already launched electric vehicles in our country, and many more manufacturers are planning on doing the same. As the technology improves, we will start seeing new makes and models that not only offer faster charging times and longer ranges, but lower prices as well. This will undoubtedly result in even more electric vehicles on our roads.

An exciting present and promising future

Electric vehicles are arguably one of the most consequential technologies in the last several decades. Not only can they play a significant role in combating climate change throughout the world, but electric vehicles are sleek, speedy, and fun to drive. They provide substantial benefits for drivers and our community as a whole.

Compared to other countries, New Zealand is in an excellent condition to take advantage of this transportation revolution. From the government’s Electric Vehicles Programme to the inherent nature of New Zealand itself, our country is doing substantial work to leverage this exciting future. We cannot wait to see how it all plays out.