The start of this month brought with it the full implementation of the governments Clean Car Scheme which sees rebates given for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, funded by fees for high emitting vehicles.

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

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

“The Clean Car Discount scheme is off to an electric start, helping to get more Kiwis behind the wheel of cheaper electric vehicles,” Michael Wood said.

The Clean Car rebate provides a maximum of $8,625 for low and zero emission new and used imports.

“The climate emergency we face is a challenge we cannot postpone, and I’m excited and encouraged to see Kiwis making the most of the Clean Car rebate to help play an active role in cutting emissions and reaching our climate targets.

“Today’s milestone means that electric and hybrids vehicles now make up around 1 percent of Aotearoa’s light-vehicle fleet. This is a promising start, but we need to keep building on this momentum. As demand for electric and hybrid vehicles grows worldwide, Aotearoa needs to be an active participant in this market, and avoid being in a position where we are the dumping ground for high-emitting vehicles from other countries moving ahead in the decarbonisation of their fleet.

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

And that should only grow further as from the start of the month the fee part has kicked in. It also saw the rebate scheme expanded to a wider range of vehicles.

The government should have introduced the fee at the same time as the rebate back in July but they didn’t and as predicted, this saw a rush on large high-emitting vehicles.

New car buyers have rushed to get in ahead of the introduction of Clean Car Programme fees on higher-emission vehicles on the 1st of April, with 21,044 new passenger vehicles being registered in March, the highest monthly registrations ever recorded in New Zealand.

Motor Industry Association Chief Executive David Crawford says that while an increase in registrations was anticipated in the lead up to the Clean Car Programme fees, the March 2022 figures are a massive 4,374 units over the previous strongest in October 2018, when 16,607 units were registered.

As expected sales were dominated by the largest ever monthly registrations for light commercial vehicles of 9841 units as buyers rushed to avoid fees for high CO2 emitting vehicles that began on 1 April.

Overall registrations of 21,044 were up a huge 35.8 per cent (5546 units) on March 2021. Year to date the market is up 12.5 per cent (5230 units) compared to the first three months of 2021.

The top three models for March were all utes, with the Mitsubishi Triton (2266 units) taking the lead, followed by the Ford Ranger (1933 units) and the Toyota Hilux in third place (1580 units).

While the three biggest sellers were all about avoiding a fee, of note was the fourth place vehicle for the month, the Tesla Model 3 on 949 units, proving that not every new vehicle buyer was getting in quick to avoid fees.

While the motor industry all knew this bump would happen, I suspect the chances are high that over the next year or so we them forget this and complaining that their sales volumes have dropped.

The rebate scheme hasn’t been all that smooth either.

The Transport Agency, Waka Kotahi, has admitted there are inaccuracies in its feebate system after car dealers reported some car buyers were being asked to pay fees of thousands of dollars on cars that should be attracting rebates.

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

“With any new large scale programme we can expect some teething issues,” he said.

…….

But Vehicles Importers Association chief executive David Vincent said the motor vehicle register that recorded the emissions of different vehicles was incomplete and in some cases inaccurate, sometimes also “defaulting” to apply a fee when rebates were due.

As a result, some car buyers were incorrectly being instructed to pay thousands of dollars in fees on lower emission vehicles including hybrids.

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

That seems a pretty poor performance from Waka Kotahi.

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

The government should at least expand the scheme, or create a separate one, to offer rebates on e-bikes. E-bikes aren’t cheap but are already far more affordable than electric cars and many e-bike users find they are able to replace many, if not all of their car journeys with them. They also have the benefit of requiring far fewer materials to build and need even less electricity to run.

Skyrocketing petrol prices are driving commuters towards ebikes 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 a carpool to rein in climbing costs, a third of respondents were also considering switching to a hybrid or electric vehicle.

But that momentum has been building for a while, with interest in electric cars and bicycles increasing significantly over the last decade.

Michael Tritt​, chief executive of ebike maker and retailer Electrify NZ, said Customs import figures and other data showed ebike imports had skyrocketed from about 2000 in 2014 to 50,000 in 2020.

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

An ebike commuter himself, Tritt said it cost him 20 cents to charge his bike for 100 kilometres of cycling each week.

“The difference between that and 100km worth of petrol right now is huge, without taking into account the other costs that come with car ownership including registration, WOF, insurance, servicing and parking.”

Ebike riders were encouraged to service their bikes every six months but from a cost perspective, making the transition from a car to an electric-assisted pedal power made sense, Tritt said.

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

The biggest challenge to an e-bike subsidy is we just don’t have enough safe cycle route, but then if everyone has them there’ll be plenty of road space to reallocate.

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77 comments

  1. You are right. This is a car replacement:

    https://ebiketeam.co.nz/riese-and-muller-load-75/

    I should know, I use mine around the isthmus almost every day. For leisure on the weekends and for utility (going to the supermarket, doctors etc) during the week. It is just the best!

    However, the upfront purchase price is a real barrier to entry. Even a percentage of the dollar discount on offer for new e-cars would make a real difference to making e-cargo bikes cheaper, and therefore more popular and mainstream.

    I do the vast majority of my local trips on my e-cargo bike irrespective of if I have a load or not. And also, it has really helped during lockdown/level red to have such a fun thing on which to ride around the great and getting better shared path network of Auckland.

    The fresh air and the connections you make with your environment, along with the travel time reliability I now have is amazing on my e-cargo bike. The more people that have them the better!

    1. What do they cost roughly? Have an ebike already which I load up (to breaking point a few times) but sometimes dream about a Ute like that as well.

      Even if I never go through it helps me empathise with the Ranger drivers 🙂

      1. those Riese and Muller are super expensive, about $12K when i was looking. But you can get a decent cargo bike starting at about $5K. I got a Tern GSD for $5000 (last years model, but brand new). It wont carry quite as much as a bike with a front bucket, but it’s the same length as a normal bike which we needed for navigating steps and tight corners in/out of the house.

        https://www.ternbicycles.com/au/bikes/472/gsd

        If you don’t mind taking a risk on aliexpress there are all sorts of e-cargobikes for under $3K
        https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005002991324369.html?spm=a2g0o.productlist.0.0.4cc365c88qbNqn&algo_pvid=f18de7e2-b830-490c-ac00-ddc70bb8b437&algo_exp_id=f18de7e2-b830-490c-ac00-ddc70bb8b437-3&pdp_ext_f=%7B%22sku_id%22%3A%2212000023119672429%22%7D&pdp_pi=-1%3B2063.18%3B-1%3B-1%40salePrice%3BNZD%3Bsearch-mainSearch

  2. Misread the heading as “now includeS ebikes” and was excited for a second! They really are a game-changer and deserve a substantial rebate if we are serious about climate action – sooner rather than later is key

    1. So did I. Was wondering how much and about to look at e-cargo bike options. Still too expensive for me at this stage while I’m in the midst of retraining for a new job. Once I start earning some money again I might be able to afford one.

        1. I am going to be kind and say it was an unintentional side effect of trying to keep the heading short/brief.
          When you know what you meant it is easy to miss what others will read it as. Which is why having someone else do the final edit is always worth while.

  3. More publicity is needed about the speed of e-bikes. Politicians and planners who don’t use them aren’t aware of how fast they are. Google maps still only show times for push bikes. Even they’re often quicker than public transport. For example Penrose to Auckland in the morning rush is now shown as 46min by train, 41min by bike, but 22min by car, at a 30kph average. I regularly average 28kph on my bike, the difference between finding a parking space and going straight to my destination.

    1. Yes, on my eBike I normally either half the Google Maps cycle route time or just know how long it takes me as I’ve done that particular route many times before..

    2. The Auckland Transport app has a very good route finding for bikes and also allows you to set the average speed to 30km/h.

      1. Only 30kph? I borrowed my wife’s ebike and cycled from Auckland central to Hobsonville and back with an average speed of 41kph. I was getting a bit of sweat on, but if this was my typical commute it’s how I’d ride it. For comparison on my 8kg road bike I do this route averaging 30kph. The extra +250W and +15kg of the ebike works out nicely giving +11kph

      2. The app directs people to avoid biking along arterials. Probably good safety advice, but it’s infuriating to have AT accept that their roads are not fit for purpose, but then refuse to do anything above a snails pace to resolve the issues.

        1. Just proves that 50kph max for our streets is fine and should not be reduced to 30kph max. 🙂

        2. @Stu only if you are happy with the number of deaths we have on our roads and don’t want to increase the number of people cycling instead of driving.

  4. Offf that title.

    I asked the minister why not include ebikes on Twitter when the scheme went live last year. He replied something along the lines of ebikes are already very popular and don’t need to be encouraged further. I think it’s fair to say the government don’t really get ebikes.

    1. Interesting! I live next to an off-road shared path and I would say the main demographic of e-bike owners is people who would have a Super Gold card and are riding for leisure. That’s fab, but it seems like there would be a lot of current car commuters that are yet to be captured. I wonder what research is there about what would influence them onto e-bikes, and what is holding them back.

      1. 50,000 ebikes were imported just last year, the minister is not wrong to say ebikes are popular, he wrong to think there is enough and that they should be excluded from this scheme. But the bigger issue is a lack of space. He and his govt are not going to rapidly reallocate space, so bikes will be kept token. So stupid, on many levels.

        What’s holding evoked back? Situations like what happened last week.

      2. The main users of ebikes being Super Gold card holders is partly because they have the cash to buy one.

        There’s massive untapped potential in other groups such as families with young children, or people who don’t want every trip to be a sports workout (new segment ), or households who need one-and-a-bit cars

        1. I ride the NW cycleway 5 days a week and e bike rides are spread across the whole demographic. not just the elderly.

    2. I think if you stand on any major arterial in Auckland and count the number of ebikes vs cars going past, you will quickly disprove that “ebikes are already very popular”

      1. TP,wouldn’t have anything to do with e bike riders unwilling to risk their lives on crap infrastructure with a vehicle dominated roadway.A lot like saying there are no swimmers in a crocodile infested river. Your comment would have relevance if bike lanes in a completed network were installed.

        1. Tell that to Minister Woods, he’s the one that alegedy said “ebikes are already very popular and don’t need to be encouraged further”

  5. E bikes are good today but maybe not so good tomorrow if Fili gets here. I see a click bait on how transmission gully is gobbling up the electrons in electric cars compared to the old route. Presumably its increasing fuel consumption on gas vehicles as well. Predictions were made that trucks wouldn’t use it I wonder if there has being any reports of them reverting to the scenic flatter route.

    1. Good point Royce. The articles I have seen did not run the numbers on this so I have had a go. The average grade on TG is 3.5%. A chart for fuel efficiency of an SUV gives 17.6 l/100km at +3.5%, 10.6 at 0% grade, 8.2 at -3.5%. So the grade adds at least 25% to fuel consumption – probably even more since there is a 3 km section at 8.3% grade and the effect is nonlinear.

      If we count TG at 100 km/h, old route at 70, TG adds 40% to fuel consumption from the higher speeds. If we count the old route at 80 km/h, about 20%.

      I was going to say TG was a bit shorter but according to Wikipedia, SH 59 is shorter than TG.

      Summary line: TG uses about 50% more fuel than SH 59. A round trip will cost you $26 in petrol compared to $17 on the old route.

      Adds up to 22,000 tonnes CO2 a year, not counting the increased traffic.

      1. You have forgotten to factor in the speed changes required on SH59 with half a dozen sets of lights and half a dozen roundabouts. Those all add fuel consumption.

    2. I’ve ridden in ex-cyclones before, but to be honest there are conditions people shouldn’t be driving in either, despite the expectation to just keep motoring on regardless.

    3. Well i can report no problem dropping the kids off at daycare and school on the e-bike during Fili.

      It’s only a few times per year you actually get wet in Auckland if you have mudguards on your bike. Most of the time it has rained, is going to rain, there might be water on the road, it might be spitting on and off, but to actually be out in the middle of a downpour very rare.

  6. A bit of rain and wind isn’t a concern for me. I spent 10 years cycling in the the Norther hemisphere winters. Snow, ice on the roads, big chunks of ice and grit. If it’s your only way from A to B, you just have to get on with it.

  7. Ebikes feel safer in car traffic as the average speed is so much higher. Drivers overtake far less often and seem to allow more space.

    Still, I wish I could completely avoid riding on some of Auckland roads!

  8. Why is there not a trade in a “dunger” for an e bike,would target exactly where you want change to occur,without subsidizing the segment that would buy one anyway. Either way it removes old car off the road.

    1. Market it as trade in a expensive to maintain dunger and buy an e- cargo bike and I think you would increase the uptake. Just would need to show how well they work for supermarket runs, carrying sports gear, getting children to daycare/school.

      1. That, or how they can be a flexible option both for an adult to do those things, or for teenagers to have independent transport without the issues of carrying passengers, high speeds and the extra dangers that come with those things.

        Good deal to get rid of an older, unsafe car and replace it with a vehicle that lets a young person socialise, access employment etc without driving.

  9. Speaking of people rushing out and buying high emission vehicles is not necessarily true.

    The new emissions rules and charges were only announced officially to dealers a few months ago, most dealers have been frantically registering their vehicles they have already imported. As the new charges are for new regos, not new imports.

    So March-22 could really be more cars getting regod by dealers, more so than a rush of people buying high emission vehicles.

  10. Would love them to add ev motorcycles to the rebate scheme
    We already get shafted by acc levy every rego a nice rebate for going ev at least would be great

    1. The electric mopeds would have been the lowest hanging fruit imo. They seem like the ultimate surface route commuter vehicle in Auckland given the current infrastructure. Keeps up with traffic, has indicators, lights, doesn’t contribute to traffic, dense parking / storage.
      They are like 5 grand new in any volume you could want. One or 2 grand off the base price of those would make a massive difference to the overall price and put them squarely in the cheapest new transport you could by for medium distance commuting. The batteries are far smaller so don’t have the same footprint as a massive car battery.

      They also pay rego and probably will pay RUC’s eventually, so a lot of the political issues / excuses go away.
      Shame, I guess they aren’t high profile enough yet.

      1. Yeah I don’t think its very legitimate to try and take all the petrol vehicles off the road then start wacking ruc charges on the eve.

        Maybe if the government stopped selling all the assets it has that make money they wouldn’t need us to keep paying extra for road works that literally turn bumpy 24 hours after they finish lol

  11. I would be happy to have the ebikes included. Might as well get some of my taxes back for my weekend fun! And to offset any extra charges on my 2.0 turbo (which is surprisingly efficient)

  12. I’ve been thinking that a good way to both control and reduce emissions would be to introduce a petrol voucher scheme or a petrol ration scheme. I.e . Every individual would be given a certain quantity of petrol vouchers on a weekly basis. Those individuals who didn’t need their petrol voucher could “sell” them back and others who need more petrol ( e.g. maybe they need to drive to Wellington for some reason) could pay extra for extra fuel vouchers. Over time the government could reduce the quantity of gas to assist us to meet our emissions targets. A fuel rations system would encourage individuals to consider mode shift as they would need to prioritise which trips needed the car (I.e. a family trip to the beach) and which trips had good alternative (I.e. biking or busing to work).
    The timing is pretty good right now to introduce this as their is a looming fuel crisis. I just looked online and apparently a fuel rationing system wouldn’t be too difficult to introduce:
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/bay-of-plenty-times/news/carless-days-plan-to-avert-fuel-crisis/BZOJQ3QFCLLPKLQKTPJHRCLLJA/?c_id=1503343&objectid=10928197

    1. I love the idea.
      But there would be some challenging decisions.
      People living outside of cities with typically longer journeys and less access to public transport would be at a disadvantage.
      Do all NZ citizens/residents get allocated vouchers? Or just ones with a drivers license, or just those that own a car (or only a petrol car)?

    2. What about diesel emissions?
      What about LPG emissions?
      Why focus on one specific cause of emissions instead of the emissions themselves?

      We could extend your voucher concept to the emissions themselves. If you need to emit emissions then you have to buy a voucher. Over time the government could reduce the quantity of emissions allowed.

      We could call it the “New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)”
      https://environment.govt.nz/what-government-is-doing/key-initiatives/ets/

      1. +1, this is so much a better way to handle this. We don’t need to go and create a whole load of massive distortions. Just go and charge for any emissions and let people figure out which ones are cheapest to cut out of our lives.

  13. In the meantime you have Waka Kotahi encouraging people to buy new cars to get the latest safety upgrades.
    The messaging on cars just needs to be simplified, like the messaging about the smoking in public places was.
    If you’ve just bought an SUV or a big Ute you are a selfish prick who doesn’t give a shit about your or anyone else’s kids or grandkids future.
    If you bought an electric car, you’re better than the other selfish pricks just mentioned but still a bit of a tool.

  14. This is such a Labour govt mess, and it penalises those who can only afford the cheapest of cheap new or second hand cars (yes, plenty of people who don’t live in Ponsonby or Grey Lynn fall into this category – before you well to do urban city slickers down play them). So they will subsidise the rich, ironic for a Labour govt but shows what a F*** up this is.

  15. I have a friend who started off with the cheapest ev available. He has since upgraded it twice and sold his previous vehicles to other people.
    Yes this rewards those who can afford the more expensive cars but I don’t see that as being the same thing as penalising those who are not buying a car.
    The same could be said for any multi buy offer by supermarkets.

  16. If the incentive is to get people out of gas guzzling cars, then fuel efficient motorcycles are a better alternative for 20km+ commute than an ebike.

    If the incentive is to incentivise environmentally friendly transport then surely a pedal powered cycle is preferable to a an ebike. Ebikes are more expensive because they require more energy and materials to produce.

    Ergo any rebate applied should first go to either low power motorcycles and push bikes before we consider fashionable leisure toys such as ebikes.

    1. ebikes are use less petrol than motorcycles and are more efficient than currently rebated e-cars. Ergo, e-bikes should be rebated before motorcycles. Push bikes too, but when you can get a new one for $100 from k-mart, what size rebate would you offier

      1. How about start with no GST? (GST is also charged on freight import costs). So the savings (if passed entirely passed on to the consumer) would be greater than 15%

      2. 125cc motorbikes require specialist license to drive, not so an e-bike. 50cc motorbikes have worse fuel efficiency than most cars.

        1. Answers: Ebikes should require a licence, they are a dangerous machine that requires skills to ride safely. Your comment re: small capacity motorcycles is completely wrong. Check out the mileage for a Honda Cub or a Royal Enfield 350, well in excess of 100mpg. Find me a petrol car that can get even close to that.

        2. point is a 50cc motorbike is equivalent to an ebike in that almost anyone can drive them and they are cheap. But the fuel economy is terrible, worst than most cars. 125cc+ motorbikes are far more efficient but a not comparable option IMO

          Pushbikes are great, i ride one frequently, but days when i have to drop the kids at kindy and school on the way to work i choose the ebike. Not sure how many motorbikes you can fit two child seats on, can you even get child seats for a motorbike?

      3. I’m sure an Ebike is great if you have short to medium commute that doesn’t involve busy roads/motorways. But so is a pedal cycle and that uses even less “petrol” not just in use but in manufacture and maintenance.
        I dont know about how much a rebate should be. I wouldn’t be that keen on riding a $100 bike from Kmart. Decent quality adult push bikes probably start around the $1000 mark.

    2. @munchkjn the fact you consider any bike a fashionable leisure toy shows up the difference between how you think and how I use actually use my bike.
      I use it as a form of transport to get from A to B when the distance is further than I want to walk and not far enough to justify using a car. By having access to an e-bike I am happy to travel further by bike, reduce my car use and not worry about wind when it comes to how long the trip will take.
      I have never driven a motorbike and I have no interest in learning how to. There is 0% chance of me ever buying a motorbike let alone getting the appropriate licence to ride one legally.

  17. Well done you. I was being slightly tongue-in-cheek, it’s a European thing. You should try motorcycles, they are a source. The point I’m making is there are different ways of looking at this other than “it’s electric, therefore it’s green”. Other things include practicality and length of commute and whole of life impact. An ebike not only consumes energy itself but has a sizeable footprint in manufacture and maintenance. A pedal powered cycle is greener. A low capacity motorcycle can fill a sustainable gap for a mid-range commute, whether you intend to ride one or not. Peace.

  18. OK Nick, maybe not a licence, however electric vehicles can achieve some heady speeds. How dangerous are electric scooters and bicycles in the wrong hands, in your opinion? What needs to be done to improve safety.

    I think you are being a bit pedantic about the 50cc thing. 50cc machines are not what I would consider a motorcycle, more of a moped and I have no idea what the fuel consumption is for a moped. The Honda cub was a 90cc machine before the recent 125cc incarnation, so as I say think you are being a bit pedantic there. The four stroke 90cc honda engines were economical. You can defend TP if you like, but are you honestly telling me an average car is more economical.. ?

    1. A lightweight road bicycle can go faster than any e-bike, due to the speed limiters on ebikes, and the extra weight you have to push once the motor cuts out. What needs to be done to improve safety?

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