James Shaw won't say when electric vehicle incentives will come

Climate Change Minister James Shaw says he can't give a date for electric vehicle (EV) incentives, as he's disappointed people before.

Speaking to The AM Show Shaw said the incentives are more complex than they appear as New Zealand's car market is different to other countries.

But the Government is definitely looking into something.

"I've promised dates before and I've overshot them, so I won't say that, but Government is actively looking at a package."

Kiwis tend to buy cheaper, second hand, gas-guzzling vehicles, which means it's harder to follow in the footsteps of other countries that have robust incentive schemes.

"The New Zealand car market is so completely different to Japan or Norway where you've seen a lot of strides on this," Shaw said.

"We obviously import our cars, we tend to buy second hand vehicles. One of the ways that we deal with the fact that amongst OECD countries we're not as high income is that we rely on our vehicles being cheap up front and so it just operates differently. We're not very used to leasing cars."

Norway had a goal of 50,000 EVs by 2017, and made EVs exempt from all non-recurring vehicle fees, including purchase taxes, which were very high for internal combustion engine vehicles.

They were also exempt from road tax, public parking fees, toll payments and were able to use bus lanes. Norway hit the goal two years early in 2015 and has since rolled back some of the incentives.

Norway hit 20,000 registered EVs in December 2018, and as of January 2019 Norway had 50,000 registered Nissan Leafs, the most popular EV overall.

According to the Ministry of Transport New Zealand currently has just over 13,600 registered EVs. The Government has a goal to hit 64,000 EVs by the end of 2021.

Shaw said any incentives have to be carefully introduced.

"There are times that I think that we just need to kind of crack on a bit, that we tend to over-analyse, but it is important because there are distributional impacts.

"The Productivity Commission report that came out last year emphasised this point in particular, that we can do this, but we need to be very cautious about the impact."

The AM Show host Duncan Garner asked if there would be anything in the budget on it, but Shaw wouldn't say.

"I can't talk about it, first rule of budget is you don't [talk about it]."