Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has revealed she considered exempting utes from financial penalties in the electric car incentive scheme - but ended up ruling it out.
In a bid to increase the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs), the Government will give rebates or discounts of up to $8625 for newly imported electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles from July 1. Used EVs will fetch discounts of up to $3450.
The discounts will only apply to vehicles below $80,000 and the vehicle must have a three-star safety rating. The second-hand market will not be affected.
The Government has come under fire from farmers and tradies who say the incentive scheme is an unfair tax on them as no electric alternatives are available for their work vehicles.
"We gave them really strong consideration and we're very genuine in that, because we recognise that there wasn't an alternative in the market right now," Ardern told reporters on Wednesday.
But Ardern confirmed she's ruling out exemptions for utes.
"We did discuss that because we recognised that there is a lag in the technology right now. But after discussing it, debating it and working it through, it was going to be very difficult to operationalise," she said.
"A large number of those buyers of those vehicles are not using them for the legitimate use as those who work in the primary sector and the trades."
Toyota New Zealand expressed disappointment on Monday after Ardern told The AM Show the company was looking to deliver EV utes within 12 to 24 months.
"We're hoping within the next 12 to 24 months the likes of Toyota are talking about EV utes," Ardern told The AM Show.
"My hope is then that people might delay their purchase in order to start building a market in New Zealand where you can access those vehicles, because it is a problem."
Toyota NZ chief executive Neeraj Lala said the company had no plans for an electric Hilux ute within the next 24 months.
"It is irresponsible to suggest that customers stop buying non-electric vehicles immediately until there is an electric option available," Lala said.
"The range and volumes of EV's needed to meet demand is simply not available, and many customers still need a vehicle to transport their family or operate their business."
Motor Industry Association chief executive David Crawford also questioned Ardern's comments.
"Based on feedback from members... one or two brands are working hard to get in a fully electric ute, but our expectation is plug-in hybrid utes might become more widely available by 2025 and full battery electric utes after that."
He said speculation by ministers of when models are coming to the market is "unhelpful and potentially misleading".
Ardern is standing by her remarks.
"Toyota, of course, have indicated their hope that within a time period - my recollection is by the end of next year - they're hoping for hybrids," she said on Wednesday.
"There are alternative manufacturers, of course, that they wouldn't choose to name who are looking at electric options within the next 12 to 24 months.
"My point was that there are alternatives that will not attract fees that are being promoted as in the pipeline by manufacturers."
National leader Judith Collins has vowed to reverse the policy.
"It is a tax, just like Labour said they wouldn't do - they're now doing it again, revoking all those promises they made and just going and doing exactly what they want to do."