Govt to flick the switch on electric cars

Simon Bridges (Getty)
Simon Bridges (Getty)

The Government today will reveal plans to boost New Zealand's electric car industry, but don't expect ministers to give up their BMWs just yet.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges and Prime Minister John Key will reveal what's in store in the upcoming Budget at the Auckland War Memorial Museum this afternoon.

Mr Key this morning told More FM it would be "win-win all the way round".

"We're on 80 percent renewable energy, on our way to 90 percent renewable. An electric car, in the context of New Zealand, is a great thing because it removes all the emissions that would have come from all the petrol or diesel-fuelled vehicle. It's zero emissions."

That's assuming the electricity used to "fill" the car is renewable. Coal-powered Huntly Power Station was set to close in 2018, owner Genesis recently signed deals to keep it open until 2022.

Mr Bridges, who is also Energy and Resources Minister, said the coal units will only be used as a backup power supply. The Greens are calling it a "total smokescreen", with MP Gareth Hughes in Parliament on Tuesday saying Huntly was burning coal "all day yesterday and at near capacity".

Mr Bridges' response was that Huntly used to provide 12 percent of the country's electricity needs, now down to 2.6 percent.

Asked whether ministers would swap their $200,000 BMW 730s for electric cars, Mr Key said he thinks it will happen "over time".

But for now, the Government will be looking at some of the "self-drives" ministers have access to -- meaning cars they drive themselves, not self-driving cars.

Mr Key told More FM he personally doesn't drive himself.

The Government last updated its BMW fleet in 2015, only three years after its last upgrade.