NZ EV Market Share – Light Vehicles

Electric vehicles – while growing in numbers – represent a small part of the vehicle market, with the majority being Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles.

Most recent quarter

The snapshot of the last three months shows the powertrain of light vehicles registered in NZ.

The light vehicle market provides a comprehensive view of cars and light commercial vehicles being added to the registration system each month.

It includes:

  • New passenger cars
  • Used import passenger cars
  • New utes and vans
  • Used import utes and vans

To see details of EVs in operation – see more about the overall NZ vehicle fleet.

Annual EV market share

The actual number of light EVs registered and the market share for that year.

In 2022, the number of EV registrations almost doubled those of 2021. In terms of market share, the beginnings of an exponential growth curve can be seen.

Market share by powertrain

At the beginning of 2020, over 88% of light vehicle registrations in NZ were Petrol or Diesel.

The effect of the clean car rebate can be seen from July 2021. Petrol vehicle registration is dropping; however, the diesel market share is not changing.

The introduction of the clean car fee system began in April 2022 – the market responded with a big move towards hybrid vehicles (where a small rebate was available).

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) show an inconsistent pattern (changing the graph to quarterly will even out the distortions). These inconsistencies are typically from irregular vehicle supply.

Seeing different numbers elsewhere?

They may be reporting on NEW passenger car registrations only. However, the NZ light vehicle market is made up of New and Used imports, cars, utes, and small vans.

Selectively including and excluding data is not a fair representation of the complete NZ light vehicle market.

Monthly market share

The EV market was increasing very slowly until mid-2021. Since then market share has grown rapidly.

The S-curve is a phenomenon where a new technology follows a recognisable growth curve and then rapidly reaches a high market share within a few more years once past this tipping point.

Is the S-curve probable? Or even possible?

The model uses a rolling 3-month average of market share per month and plots an exponential regression (a trend line). An S-curve is plotted using a logistic function that matches the growth curve.

This S-curve is just one possible forecast and may be incorrect due to the following:

  • NZ is at a very early stage of EV adoption.
  • Many see EVs as a compromise or too early of a technology.
  • Only 13% of car purchases in New Zealand are new, 11% are used imports, and 76% are existing used cars.
  • Many buyers are opting for hybrid cars to save on fuel costs.
  • Hybrid cars may delay the uptake of used EVs and negatively impact their values.
  • The residual value of EVs may have a flatter profile and a more dramatic drop at the end of the warranty period.
  • The NZ market is quite different from European car markets (demonstrating a strong S-curve).
  • NZ relies on the Japanese Domestic Market for the majority of used car stock. Japan has good supply of hybrids but very little supply of BEVs (Japan has very low EV adoption).
  • Future economic outlook – the possibility of a recession and declining property values may dampen the mood for new vehicle purchase.
  • NZ has a very aggressive light truck (ute) market. The market share of these (predominantly diesel) vehicles has shown no sign of changing.
  • The global EV market has experienced significant supply constraints (on some models).
  • Unprecedented global demand for metals used in battery production.
  • The future of government policy assisting EV uptake is uncertain.
  • Charging infrastructure is critical to EV adoption.
  • Rapid technological changes can lead to an Osborne effect . Consumers delay new vehicle purchases as an even better model is coming soon.

It may be that New Zealand experiences a more linear growth of EV market share.

However, if the S-curve eventuates, by mid-2026, 50% of light vehicles registered in NZ will be EVs. This also means only 50% will be ICE vehicles, representing a significant disruption for car makers who have been slow to electrify.

See more about the NZ EV adoption curve, and how we meet governmental targets.

By James Foster

James has been tracking the NZ EV transition since 2016.

Updated as at December 31, 2022