NZ electric car ownership set for huge boom, claims report

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Words: Matthew Hansen
4 Dec 2020

It’s been a massive month or two for electric cars in New Zealand, what with the government declaring a climate emergency and the Greens floating the idea of banning internal combustion imports.

The topic of EV adoption among Kiwis is perhaps the biggest barrier. Most still recognise cars in the segment as too expensive in terms of initial outlay, and too challenging in terms of infrastructure and charging management. But, according to a new data report, local adoption may be on the verge of a huge increase.

US-based research and data firm Fitch Solutions have issued a report about New Zealand’s electric car position, in the wake of prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s declaration of a climate emergency earlier this week.

Prior to the announcement, Fitch’s annual average growth rate projections of EV sales were rated at 29 per cent. Now, the group has altered its average growth rate figures to 64.4 per cent — more than doubling the previous projection. By the end of 2025, it expects over 30,000 EVs to be the annual sales norm. Hydrogen vehicles are also expected to get more support, although more so in the realm of trucks and buses.

“We now expect EV sales to reach an annual sales volume of 32,690 units by the end of 2025, up from our previous forecast of 11,154 units,” said the research firm.

“Furthermore, given that the government directive placed increased emphasis on battery electric vehicles [BEVs], and we believe that this will be duplicated in the private EV market, we expect BEV sales to account for a greater share of the country's EV sales.

“We now forecast BEV sales to account for 80 per cent of New Zealand's EV sales by the end of 2025, up from our previous forecast of 67 per cent.”

In addition, Fitch says that these figures could further increase if the government can successfully get its ‘feebate’ proposal across the line — a set of regulations designed to help discount low-emissions vehicles by adding charges to so-called gas guzzlers.

Should feebate be made reality, Fitch claims that almost half of the country’s new-car sales by the end of the decade could be EVs; projecting a 49.9 per cent market share by 2029. To put that into perspective, EVs only account for around 1.8 per cent of the market in 2019.

While feebate hasn’t necessarily been discussed in the recent past after it was shot down last year, the climate emergency status is likely to put it back on the table. Local government is also expected to discuss the potential of following in the UK’s footsteps in announcing a deadline for a ban on new petrol and diesel internal combustion vehicles.


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