Clean Car Scheme now live, now includes e-bikes

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The start of this month saw the full implementation of the government’s Clean Car Scheme, which provides rebates for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, funded by high-emission vehicle charges.

The remission part of the program was introduced in July last year and the government celebrated last week by announcing that already 12,000 remissions had been approved.

Transport Minister Michael Wood today announced that the Clean Car Rebate Program has exceeded expectations by already reaching 12,000 approved rebates.

“The Clean Car Discount program is about to go electric, helping to get more Kiwis behind the wheel of cheaper electric vehicles,” said Michael Wood.

The Clean Car Rebate offers a maximum of $8,625 for new and used low- or zero-emission imports.

“The climate emergency we face is a challenge we cannot postpone, and I am delighted and encouraged to see Kiwis making the most of the clean car rebate to help play an active role in the reducing emissions and achieving our climate goals.

“Today’s milestone means that electric and hybrid vehicles now represent approximately 1% of Aotearoa’s light-duty vehicle fleet. It’s a promising start, but we need to keep the momentum going. As the demand for electric and hybrid vehicles increases worldwide, Aotearoa must be an active player in this market and avoid being in a position where we are the dumping ground for high-emission vehicles from other countries that are advancing in the decarbonization of their fleet.

You can definitely see a big jump in monthly electric vehicle sales from July on the Department of Transport’s tracker stats. In total, they say there are now 38,000 EVs in the fleet, meaning the EV fleet has grown by nearly half in just eight months.

And that should only grow more from the beginning of the month, the part of the fees came into effect. The rebate program has also been extended to a wider range of vehicles.

The government should have introduced the charge along with the rebate in July, but they failed to do so and, as expected, this led to a rush for large, high-emission vehicles.

New car buyers rushed to get in ahead of the introduction of the clean car program fee on higher-emitting vehicles on April 1, with 21,044 new passenger vehicles registered in March, the highest monthly registrations ever registered in New Zealand.

Motor Industry Association chief executive David Crawford said while registrations were expected to rise ahead of the Clean Car program fee, the March 2022 figures are 4,374 units from the previous record in October 2018. , when 16,607 units were registered.

As expected, sales were led by the largest-ever monthly registrations for light commercial vehicles of 9,841 units as buyers rushed to avoid the charge for high-CO2 vehicles which began on April 1.

Overall registrations of 21,044 increased by 35.8% (5,546 units) in March 2021. Year-to-date, the market is up 12.5% ​​(5,230 units) from the top three month of 2021.

The first three March models were all utes, with the Mitsubishi Triton (2,266 units) leading the way, followed by the Ford Ranger (1,933 units) and Toyota Hilux in third place (1,580 units).

While the top three sellers were aiming to avoid fees, it’s worth noting that the fourth-place vehicle of the month, the Tesla Model 3 out of 949 units, proves that not all new-vehicle buyers were rushing to avoid fees. costs.

While the auto industry knew this bump was coming, I suspect there’s a good chance that over the next year we’ll forget about them and complain that their sales volumes have plummeted.

The reimbursement program was not that simple.

Transport Agency Waka Kotahi has admitted there are inaccuracies in its rebate system after car dealerships reported some car buyers had to pay fees of thousands of dollars on cars that should benefit from discounts.

Transport Minister Michael Wood said he was seeking assurances from Waka Kotahi that these were “isolated cases and there is a plan to address the problem”.

“With any new large-scale program, we can expect start-up problems,” he said.

…….

But Vehicles Importers Association chief executive David Vincent said the Motor Vehicle Register which recorded emissions from different vehicles was incomplete and in some cases inaccurate, sometimes also “defaulting” to apply a charge when discounts were due.

As a result, some car buyers have been tricked into paying thousands of dollars in fees on low-emission vehicles, including hybrids.

Greig Epps, head of strategy for the Motor Trade Association (MTA), said that in some cases information about whether a fee or rebate was due had jumped “every other day”, leaving auto dealers unsure of what what they had to tell the customers.

Seems like a pretty poor performance from Waka Kotahi.

But overall, the biggest problem with the program is that it’s only for cars, because while electric vehicles help reduce emissions, they don’t do anything to help address our other big challenges such as reducing congestion or improved safety performance.

The government should at least expand the scheme, or create a separate one, to offer discounts on e-bikes. E-bikes aren’t cheap, but they’re already much more affordable than electric cars, and many e-bike users find they can replace most, if not all, of their car trips with them. They also have the advantage of requiring far fewer materials to build and require even less electricity to operate.

Soaring gas prices are pushing commuters to e-bikes in record numbers and making the switch could save thousands of dollars a year.

Consumer NZ’s latest Sentiment Tracker found that as well as adjusting their driving habits or joining carpooling to limit rising costs, a third of respondents were also considering switching to a hybrid or electric vehicle.

But that momentum has been building for some time, with interest in e-cars and e-bikes increasing dramatically over the past decade.

Michael Tritt, managing director of e-bike manufacturer and retailer Electrify NZ, said Customs import figures and other data showed e-bike imports had soared from around 2,000 in 2014 to 50,000 in 2020.

In line with this growth, Electrify NZ doubled its sales in the 2021 financial year, Tritt said.

Tritt, an e-bike commuter himself, said it costs him 20 cents to charge his bike for 100 kilometers of cycling each week.

“The difference between that and 100km on gas right now is huge, not considering the other costs of owning a car including registration, WOF, insurance, maintenance and parking. .”

E-bike riders have been encouraged to service their bikes every six months, but from a cost perspective, making the transition from a car to an e-pedal made sense, Tritt said.

If the government were to expand the rebate scheme, it could help lower the cost of e-bikes further, potentially even making them a viable option for low-income households, which e-cars won’t be. It’s worth noting that for the $5.6 billion price difference between surface and tunnel light rail, the government could buy everyone in Auckland an e-bike and probably have some money left over. Alternatively, they could also give everyone in the country a $1000+ grant on them

The biggest challenge with an e-bike grant is that we just don’t have enough safe bike lanes, but if everyone does, there will be a lot of road space to reallocate.

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