Outrage is one word to describe how opposing political parties are feeling after Transport Minister Michael Wood’s announcement that the Clean Car Discount will be raising fees for high-emitting vehicles like utes.
The updated scheme is intended to reduce emissions even further than the New Zealand Government originally projected, but some don’t see it the same way.
The rise in fees have been labelled a “kick in the guts”, “out of touch” and downright concerning by multiple figures in the political landscape and the automotive industry.
National’s transport spokesperson Simeon Brown believes the fee hike is a result of the Labour party’s failed Clean Car Discount scheme which “spent over $200 million more in subsidies than it took in taxes”.
“Tens of millions of dollars in subsidies has been handed out to wealthy people buying Teslas, using money paid for by farmers and tradies that have been working hard keeping our economy moving,” Brown said.
“This is a kick in the guts for our farmers and tradies who rely on utes for their jobs and don’t have alternative EV vehicles they can buy.”
One comment that really struck the bone came from Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni, who said on AM that people driving utes in Auckland should switch to an EV because “they aren’t needed for practical reasons”. But is it really the Government’s business as to what Kiwi’s use their vehicles for?
In response to this, leader of the ACT party David Seymour said that Sepuloni’s statement was “out of touch” and “far beyond reducing emissions”.
While we’re all for lowering our carbon footprint where we can, there are still a limited number of fully electric and even hybrid options for utes in New Zealand. So can you blame Kiwis for choosing the only “high-emitting” vehicles out there?
With that being said, another thing that doesn’t make sense is that almost all hybrids on sale today will no longer be eligible for a rebate as the emissions output threshold will be lowered to 100g of CO2 per km from 146g. The Motor Industry Association (MIA) is concerned that the scheme will become counterintuitive by negatively impacting the downward trend of CO2 emission improvements in New Zealand.
So it’s fair to say the current Government is on a mission to get utes off the road with their new Clean Car Discount scheme which may be a factor on many New Zealander’s minds in the upcoming elections later this year.
That also begs the question, are utes now enemy number one?