The Pitch: National's climate spokesperson supports Govt electric vehicle policy, despite party opposition

National's climate spokesperson is supportive of the Government's electric vehicle (EV) feebate policy, despite opposition from the party's leadership.

A feebate scheme has been proposed which would see up to $3000 added to the sale of our highest-polluting vehicles in order to subside cleaner vehicles by up to $8000 from 2021.

In an interview with Newshub Nation, Todd Muller was asked if he'd keep the policy if National won power at the next election.

"I'm broadly supportive," he said.

"Transport is an area that has 20 percent of our emissions but more critically we have at our fingertips a technology, in this case electric vehicles and maybe in time hydrogen vehicles, that you can roll across the New Zealand sector to improve emissions.

"If you do have technology available to assist with those emissions reductions then I think it is a fair question to ask about how best can we speed up that adoption.

"A feebate is just one part of the equation. I'm interested that they haven't looked at the tail of our very old and increasingly unsafe cars, at what can be done to reduce them from the New Zealand fleet that is appropriately fair and equitable for those people who often drive those, who're often at the lower end of our socio-economic profile."

Muller's position contradicts that taken by the National Party leadership.

Deputy Leader Paula Bennett derided the policy as "yet another tax on hard-working New Zealanders" on The AM Show. Leader Simon Bridges, who owns an EV and as Transport Minister rolled out an EV incentive policy in 2016, also blasted the policy on Twitter.

Government EV goal vs progress.
Government EV goal vs progress. Photo credit: Newshub Nation.

During the interview, Muller was also asked why National didn't transition the Government's vehicle fleet to electric when it was in power

"Look I think that's a fair question, to put it bluntly, I'm sure there was a reason - there always is," he said.

"But Simon did make it very clear that EVs were a priority and put out that 64,000 [vehicle] target."

The Minister Responsible for Ministerial Services, Chris Hipkins, said a third of Crown cars are now electric vehicles, up from 2 percent in late 2017.

"EVs offer potentially massive benefits to both our environment and our back-pocket," he said.

"This Government is playing a leadership role and intends to transition its full fleet, including the 32 BMW 7-series vehicles, to emissions-free vehicles by 2026.

"The contract for the BMW 7-series is up for renewal at the end of this year and the Government is currently considering its options.

"Not all individual vehicles in the next few years, however, will be emissions-free as we wait for the market to mature with more options."

Newshub Nation.