Toyota New Zealand CEO Neeraj Lala has raised further concerns about the Climate Change Commission’s recommendations to local government, namely around the proposed idea to ban the sale of new internal combustion cars in 2035.
In his own op-ed published in the NZ Herald, Lala said that the ruling could have numerous adverse side-effects to the local motoring industry should it be actioned by the government.
“As the developer of the hybrid Prius more than 20 years ago, Toyota has a long history of reducing emissions and continues to support the pathway to a zero emissions world,” Lala said.
“Yet a possible consequence of the Climate Change Commission’s draft advice to the Government is the appearance in New Zealand of zero-emitting yet potentially zero-safety-rated electric vehicles in an attempt to make EVs affordable.”
It’s the second time that Toyota New Zealand has taken issue with elements of the commission’s recommendations. The firm is not alone, with the Motor Industry Association and European Motor Distributors also issuing statements questioning the proposed legislation.
Lala notes that a ban could see more cars on the road locally rather than less, as car owners hang on to utes and SUVs for business and towing purposes while simultaneously adopting an EV on the side.
He also noted the price of EVs, which is still much higher than ICE and hybrid alternatives. “It could be decades before your average Kiwi, let alone more vulnerable citizens, will be able to afford an EV,” he said
“We will not have access to thousands of affordable and reliable pre-owned EVs from Japan for a long time. […] The cheapest new EV on the market in New Zealand today is around $60,000. We sell the Toyota Corolla hybrid for $33,690. There is no EV Corolla on the horizon for that sort of money.”
Some have hailed the upcoming arrival of Chinese brands, like BYD and MG, as being a potential driver for lower EV prices in New Zealand. But, Lala says that the arrival of low-cost electric models from China comes with a warning.
“There will be a supply of new, and potentially, cheap Chinese-made EVs. But therein lies the problem. Chinese cars are not designed for New Zealand roads and very few, at present, are ANCAP safety tested and rated,” he said.
“It will come down to a trade-off between driving a well-built, safe and low-emitting car designed for New Zealand roads or an affordable but dangerous one- or no-star rated zero-emissions vehicle. I would not want my kids driving around this country’s roads in a one-star rated vehicle, electric or not.”
It’s worth referencing that some Chinese cars sold locally have been awarded 5-star safety ratings from ANCAP, including the LDV T60, LDV D90, Haval H2, MG HS, and New Zealand’s cheapest electric car — the $48,990 MG ZS EV. The MG ZS and Haval H9, meanwhile, are 5-star vehicles.
Lala also cites that New Zealand’s electricity generation will need to increase “substantially” in order to sustain an increased EV fleet. The Climate Commission’s report included the estimate that annual demand for electricity [is predicted to] “increase from 40 GWh [gigawatt hours] in 2018, to 43–47 GWh by 2035 and to around 63 GWh by 2050.”
“The country has enough renewable electricity to power more EV cars and trucks. When we get to the Commission’s target, however, it gets expensive. We will have to increase electricity generating and distribution capacity substantially when the EV fleet gets to 15 to 20 per cent of the national fleet,” Lala added.
“I support the ambition to move to a low-emission economy, and I admire the passion of wanting to move at a brisk pace. However, lots of things will need to happen to get a decarbonised transport market. There needs to be a realistic transitionary period so we can, affordably, shift to lower emission vehicles.”