Drive Electric, a non-profit group, has outlined five key priorities the new government should support due to the electric vehicle wave moving towards New Zealand.
Drive Electric has a board of many industry leaders including electricity, financial services and transport. Its goal is to mainstream EVs and educate the public and corporate sector about the benefits of EVs.
Drive Electric chairman, Mark Gilbert says the priorities help identify many of the changes that come with switching to EVs.
“Transitioning New Zealand’s fleet to electric vehicles won’t happen overnight, but the change is already underway with more than 5000 EVs on the road today,” Gilbert says.
“The country needs to be prepared for these changes, which involves investigating how to deal with issues that will disrupt the status quo.”
Some of the changes that need to take place include making sure both office buildings and people’s homes are safe for EV charging and ensuring there is sufficient public charging infrastructure to complement home charging.
Gilbert says New Zealand also needs to look at the bigger global picture.
The incoming transition to electric vehicles means planning for bigger and better infrastructure.
“It’s also important to note that electric vehicles aren’t just about cars, with many heavy vehicles going electric too. This requires infrastructure planning.”
Gilbert says Drive Electric looks forward to the government providing more information on how it plans to push EV technology in the future. This should mesh with autonomous vehicles (AVs) as well, as AVs aren’t that far away.
“As a country that’s a technology taker, we should be prepared. Our legislation on vehicles doesn’t prevent AVs from using our roads, so they will be here as soon as right-hand drive vehicles are available.”
“The UK government is investing heavily in this mode, so it stands to reason that right-hand drive vehicles will start their life in UK, or Japan, and very quickly find their way to New Zealand.”
Drive Electric’s priorities are:
1. Project ‘Switch’, which encourages the government to offer companies Fringe Benefit Tax relief on new EVs for a period to accelerate EV uptake in corporate fleets.
2. Home charging infrastructure – consider regulation or requirements around safety ratings for car chargers being installed in homes (eg. worksafe approval programme); checking the charging capability (Home WoF) to ensure future proofing of home charging options for customers.
3. Encourage local government bodies to invest in and install public charging infrastructure – especially in areas where housing density means no garaging like inner-city Wellington and Ponsonby.
4. Encourage all forms of public transport to be electrified by 2040 at the latest. This could be linked to cleaner air targets and possible emissions incentives, and where necessary, penalties for high emitters, including the public fleet.
5. Communicate that NZ will follow the strategy of major right-hand drive automobile markets, for example Japan and the UK, in reducing/stopping the sale of fossil fuel vehicles from 2030.