Calls for Government to incentivise owning electric cars

There are calls for the Government to introduce subsidies or rebates for buyers of electric vehicles if they're serious about wanting more on the road.

Electric vehicle drivers say most countries offer financial incentives to those swapping petrol for electric, and it's time New Zealand did the same.

The Flip the Fleet event in Cromwell on Sunday kicked off Drive Electric Week - and surprisingly, an electric Tesla beat a petrol Ferrari.

It's not just the speed that's impressive; electric vehicle owners told Newshub that the cars are "comfortable and quiet" and "very, very cheap to run".

But organisers say it's time the Government introduced subsidies to incentivise more people away from fossil fuel vehicles.

"I really think the Government needs to step up and get much more active than it has in the past," says Henrik Miller from Ecosystems Consultants.

New Zealand lags behind other countries on the roads, and we have many more old and emission-intensive cars because we get a lot of used car imports.

As of July 2018, there are only around 9200 registered electric vehicles on our roads.

Acting Associate Transport Minister James Shaw told Newshub that New Zealand is one of only a handful of developed countries without vehicle emission standards, and the Productivitiy Commission has pointed out that we risk becoming a dumping ground for heavy, polluting vehicles that other countries won't buy.

The Minister says one idea the Government is looking at is introducing a 'feebate' scheme, in which high emission vehicles would incur a fee, while lower emission vehicles would receive a rebate.

Many other countries have decent subsidy incentives to buy an electric vehicle.

In the US, owners get up to $11,000, and it's around the same for those in the UK. In Spain, it's up to $13,000 - while Hungarian electric vehicle owners are eligible for 21 percent of the vehicle's purchase price. The Monaco government gives a subsidy of over $18,000, with free parking for the vehicles everywhere.

The only incentives Kiwis get from the Government is no road user charges and reduced ACC levies. According to those at Sunday's rally, that's just not good enough.