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EV imports accelerate as NZ looks to the future

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Source: MakeLemonade.nz

Ōtautahi – Imports of fully electric vehicles more than tripled in the year ended March 2022, amid a record-breaking year for imports of all vehicle types, Stats NZ says.

The total value of cars imported in the year to March 2022 was $6.1 billion, an increase of 50 percent on the previous year. While this is partly due to the year ended March 2021 being heavily affected by covid, this still represents the largest value of vehicles purchased within any year ended March on record.

Rises in imports were seen across vehicles of all propulsion methods, with electric vehicle imports increasing 309 percent to $543 million. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and the less common plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) increased 63 percent ($242 million) and 141 percent ($46 million) respectively. The combination of all internal combustion vehicles increased 42 percent, to $5.5 billion.

Since mid-2020, passenger vehicle imports for reduced-emission vehicles (HEVs, PHEVs, and fully electric, combined) have grown from a share of 8.2 percent to 21 percent of passenger vehicles year-ended imports.

The last two years have seen a real step change for New Zealand’s car imports, and we expect this to continue with the introduction of the Clean Vehicles Act, Stats NZ says.

The Land Transport (Clean Vehicles) Amendment Act 2022 specifies that for vehicle imports that meet the criteria, a fee based on the emissions profile of the vehicle must be paid, with lower emissions vehicles offered a rebate.

Initially implemented in July 2021 as a low-emissions rebate, the act will work in stages to increase the cost of importing higher emissions vehicles starting April 2022.

Imports of vehicles for the transport of goods (including trucks, vans, and utes) also increased, with imports of non-electric transport vehicles less than five tonnes reaching $1.5 billion in the year ended March 2022.

While there may have been an expectation of a rush recently to beat rising import fees for light trucks, what New Zealand is seeing is mainly a correction from their early pandemic low.

Electric vehicles for goods transport have recently been added as a separate category, with $1.6 million in imports achieved since January 2022.

Public transit vehicles are also changing to electric, with electric bus imports overtaking diesel buses for the first time in the last 12 months. Many commuters will have noticed more electric buses on their streets as councils look to change their policies in this area.

Alternative forms of personal transport are also important in the reduction of New Zealand’s transport emissions. While the humble pedal-powered bike has remained popular for over a century, the electric mode shift has touched this growing sector too.

Electric micro-transport imports (from e-mopeds and e-bikes to e-scooters) have steadily increased since 2017, reaching $112 million in the year to March 2022, and overtaking the value of mechanical bicycles in 2021.