Exclusive: Government pays out over $30m in clean car rebates to Tesla owners

Newshub can reveal the Government has paid out tens of millions of dollars in clean car rebates to Tesla owners - more than any other car by a mile.

And the Government is now recalibrating the scheme because it's dished out too many discounts.

Most cars get you from A to B but a Tesla is not most cars. It's a disco, an all-singing all-dancing luxury electric vehicle.

The battery-powered brainchild of the world's richest man - Elon Musk - has exploded onto the New Zealand market.

The Model 3 costs about $75,000. And Newshub can reveal the Government is paying a pretty penny for them through the clean car discount.

The Nissan Leaf tops the charts for the most subsidies - 4233 - just ahead of the Tesla Model 3 with 3852.

But more than double the amount of cash has gone to buying Teslas with $33 million paid for Model 3s - while only $16 million has gone to Leaf buyers.

"Complete waste of money," one person described it.

"Should go to people who need to upgrade from 1990," another added.

The clean car discount is supposed to be a revenue-neutral policy - all subsidies are meant to be paid for by a tax on heavy-emitting vehicles like utes.

"The biggest number of vehicles that we have supported through the clean car discount scheme have actually been relatively affordable hybrid vehicles," Transport Minister Michael Wood said.

"This is a reverse Robin Hood scheme. It's taking from people who don't have a choice about what kind of vehicles they drive like farmers and tradies and it's giving it to people who can afford to buy the expensive luxury vehicles like a Tesla," National's transport spokesperson Simeon Brown said.

But while it's supposed to be revenue-neutral, since April when the tax part of the scheme began only $62.8 million has been collected from the heavy emitters tax - while just over $95 million has been paid out in subsidies.

That's about a $33 million shortfall - coincidentally about the amount they've paid out for Teslas.

"What the clean car discount has done over the last year has increased our intake of zero-emissions vehicles to one of the highest rates in the world. The scheme is an outstanding success," Wood said.

And Newshub can reveal major changes are coming to the scheme. As a result the Government is looking to rebalance it to make sure the fees match the subsidies.

Meaning ministers now have to decide whether to pump up the tax or decrease the discounts.