Jacinda Ardern set to switch to an electric Audi e-tron
It’s been confirmed that the newly re-elected Labour Government is set to add three fully electric Audi e-tron luxury SUVs to its fleet as vehicles for high-level state duties — with one of them understood to become Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s ministerial daily driver.
While one of the new EVs will reside in Auckland, the other two e-trons are slated for deployment in Wellington, with motoringnz.com reporting that the models are flagship e-tron 55s, priced from $150,500 a pop. It’s expected that more Audi representation in the ministerial fleet is on the way, with more models potentially rolling in as replacements for the BMWs currently used.
The move comes after both Labour and National made respective pledges to switch over a portion of the Government’s vehicular fleet from internal combustion models to electric — Labour first doing so in the build-up to its 2017 election win, and National prior to its latest landmark 2020 election loss.
Labour, with agreement from former coalition partners New Zealand First, pledged to make its fleet completely emissions free “where practicable” by 2025–’26. The party has since been widely panned for falling short of these targets; having only brought on 108 electric vehicles out of a possible 15,000 by the time the election rolled around.
The new Audi signing may signal a return to prioritising transition to electric in the government fleet. It comes at a complex time for Labour, as it weighs up whether to form a coalition with the New Zealand Greens or whether to govern alone.
“The Government’s quiet back down on electrifying its vehicle fleet is surprising and incredibly disappointing,” Greenpeace campaigner Amanda Larsson told Newsroom in 2019. “This is a climate emergency and the Government should be leading by example to cut our dependence on the dirty fuels driving this crisis.”
Ardern is no stranger to EVs, given that she owns a Hyundai Ioniq EV as her personal car — the car most notably featuring in her extended 2019 feature on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The trio of e-trons now likely makes New Zealand’s fleet one of the few in the world to include EVs at a high level.