EV Uptake: Actual vs Target

The first major target for EV uptake was set by the National government in May 2016. A number of initiatives were undertaken with the intent to have 64,000 EVs on the road by the end of 2021.

Five years later and the number is only half that.

Despite the plan to address Fringe Benefit Tax rules, no changes were made – missing out on a potential EV uptake by corporate fleets.

Barriers to EV purchase in NZ are typically around: upfront cost, range concerns, lack of model variety, and concerns around battery viability.

Climate Commission Targets

As part of New Zealand’s goal reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 – transport plays a major role. According to the Clean Car scheme, 50% of monthly registrations need to be EVs* by 2030. This is an ambitious target. The EECA submissions go even further, recommending that number be reached by 2027.

It’s worth considering that Germany went from a 3.7% plugin share of registrations (October 2019) to 34.4% (October 2021) src. Could NZ look the same in two years time?

Seems unlikely due to the high level of second-hand imports (compared to Europe’s prevalence for purchasing new). NZ’s primary source of used imports is Japan – however Japan has a poor showing in the EV department (just 1% of sales in 2020).

The Emissions Reduction Discussion Document (released 2021), expects “30 per cent of the light vehicle fleet … to be zero-emissions by 2035”. The current percentage of the fleet is just 0.8%.

Given that there are currently around 3.3 million passenger vehicles (not including goods vans/trucks/utes and exempt registrations) – this equates to almost a million passenger EVs on the road. This is incredibly ambitious.

Even if 50% all passenger car registrations from tomorrow were EVs (about 10,000 a month), that would take 10 years to add the million EVs.

However if the number of vehicles on NZ’s roads continues to grow (at around 2-3% per year), then these targets are not realistic

There would need to be a massive shift in transport (removing cars off the road), and massive incentivisation of EVs (be they battery electric, or future hydrogen fuel cell).

By James Foster
Updated as at December 31, 2021