Election 2023: National would make electric vehicle drivers pay road user charges

National is committing to ending a "free pass" for electric vehicle owners if the party gets elected in October.

The Labour Government, in 2021, extended a programme that allows EV owners to not pay any road user chargers until at least March 2024. The idea of the programme is to encourage the uptake of EVs. 

But National leader Christopher Luxon told AM that wasn't sustainable.

Eventually, he said, the Government won't be able to collect enough money to fund the roads as the fleet of EVs increases.

"You ultimately have to get to that place, don't you?"

Luxon said National would, if elected, likely base the EV road user charges on kilometres travelled. 

National wanted to base the charges on how often people were using New Zealand's roading network as opposed to the type of vehicle, he said.

"Ultimately, for New Zealand to solve its problems… we are going to need to revisit those settings and, actually, get the logic straight and get it fair so that, actually, electric vehicles are paying their fair share - given they're contributing and consuming the roads, essentially, through their daily travel."  

The Government, earlier this term, adopted the Clean Car Package - which included the extension of the EV road user charge exemption as well as a discount scheme. The scheme was recalibrated earlier this year. 

National has criticised the scheme as "taxing people with utes… and actually subsiding wealthy Tesla drivers by giving them subsidies". However, Luxon's family appeared to claim the Clean Car Discount when they upgraded from a Model 3 to a Model Y Tesla - as did National MP Tama Potaka for a party-branded SUV.  

EVs currently make up about 1.8 percent of New Zealand's total fleet.