Nearly half of Kiwi car buyers want to buy an electric vehicle - survey

Someone charging an electric vehicle
New Zealand is currently ranked ninth in global electric vehicle adoption. Photo credit: Getty Images

The number of Kiwis looking to buy electric vehicles (EVs) has hit a record high, according to a new survey.

The latest EY Mobility Consumer Index shows that 52 percent of respondents looking to buy a car worldwide want to buy an EV. Aotearoa is not far behind with 49 percent intending to buy a fully electric, plug-in hybrid or hybrid car.

This is the first time the number has globally exceeded 50 percent, EY said, representing a rise of 22 percentage points in just two years.

Since last year's survey, New Zealanders' EV purchase intent has increased by 19 percentage points.

The survey had 13,000 respondents across 18 counties, with car buyers in Italy (73 percent), China (69 percent) and South Korea (63 percent) the most committed to buying an EV.

At the other end of the scale, Australians (38 percent) and Americans (29 percent) are the least committed.

"There is no doubt New Zealand consumers are increasingly leaning towards electric vehicles, this is partly down to escalating petrol prices making internal combustion engines more expensive to run, but environmental concerns also remain top of mind," said Ashley Kearton, leader in EY's Power and Utilities practice.

"The New Zealand government is working to further encourage the uptake of electric vehicles – hence Minister Michael Wood currently being in Oslo [at the International Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exhibition].

"Establishing strong global relationships will be crucial to the accessibility of electric vehicles going forward," Kearton said.

Across the globe, environmental concerns are cited as the biggest reason for respondents to buy an EV (38 percent), although rising penalties on internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles featured for the first time as a key concern (34 percent).

The survey also showed that New Zealanders are more likely to purchase a used car (19 percent) compared to a new car (16 percent), the only country in the Asia and Pacific region where this is the case. 

"Even more so than in many other countries, creating a pool of affordable, second-hand EVs will be key to making EVs accessible for all consumers and accelerating uptake in New Zealand," Kearton said.

The issues around "range anxiety" and charging infrastructure are also reducing, with only 21 percent of EV drivers charging their car every day. Indeed, the top motivator for second time EV buyers is now that they have longer ranges than before.

"We know that the vast majority of journeys are relatively short, and as charging infrastructure continues to grow and battery quality continues to increase, we will start to see these concerns fade," Kearton said.

"It is also clear that those who own EVs know­ this already. They're looking at new models with greater range, which in turn is encouraging them to buy an EV again. They also know from experience that the charging infrastructure is there when they need it."

The survey also shows that those looking to buy an EV are willing to pay a premium. Eighty-eight percent say they would pay more, and 35 percent are willing to pay a premium of 20 percent or more, in keeping with last year's findings.