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Clean Car Discount Kickstarts NZ’s Electric Vehicle Future

Updated: Sep 1, 2021

The long awaited EV incentive that came in the form of the Clean Car Discount kicked in on the 1st of July and EV registrations have skyrocketed! Giving just the push EV’s needed saw July record 1,944 new electric and hybrid vehicles on the road with drivers making the most of up to $8,825 in rebate. This brings our electric fleet to 29,854 and it will continue to grow as the incentive runs through till December. Of the new registrations, 760 were pure electric and 1163 hybrids. Hyundai Kona, MG ZS EV and Tesla Model 3 continued to be the most popular pure electric models as they have been throughout the year. Whilst Toyota’s range including the Corolla and RAV4 continues to dominate the hybrid segment of the market with Mitsubishi’s Outlander and Eclipse Cross hybrids also growing in popularity.

Kiwi’s, even in the electric space, are tending to gravitate towards larger vehicles such as SUVs which we see in the popularity of the hybrid Outlanders and smaller SUVs like the Hyundai Kona and MG ZS EV. The practicality of their size and common use as fleet vehicles makes them a popular choice, as well as being competitively priced. Larger SUVs on the market, such as the Audi e-tron and Jaguar i-Pace, are placed in the luxury market so are out of reach of many customers to justify as their next vehicle. The more affordable models will be the key to getting more Kiwi’s into electric vehicles, despite the luxury sports car approach that EVs started with.

Speaking of affordable SUVs, July saw the launch of the Mazda MX-30 in NZ with 29 registered for the month. This small SUV has distinct suicide-style doors copied from Mazda’s ever popular RX-8, however it seems the jury is still out on whether these are liked by drivers on the MX-30 or not. They seem to leave minimal space for accessing the back seats which seems contradictory to what we come to expect from the SUV style the car is given. A nice design feature but we will see if it remains in future models.

Another new addition to the electric options is the award winning Renault ZOE. This little hatchback brings further variation to what's on offer. The ZOE has been extremely popular overseas with one in five electric cars sold in Europe being one. No doubt Renault is hoping for a similarly strong uptake here in NZ. However, starting from $63,990 for a hatchback the price might hold it back when compared to other electric models available. Despite this there are few electric hatchbacks as of yet so they may have an early entry advantage.

More manufacturers are making the switch to electric vehicles so the near future will likely see most of the popular combustion engine models we drive currently being offered as electric. The tech-loaded standard that electric cars have set also means that many of the interiors of these models are getting an upgrade to be able to compete in the electric space. This is a positive shift for all cars to be improved, not just to lower emissions but to improve driver experience.

Overall this has been a great starting response to the rebate showing that it has been effective in its aim of boosting EV sales. As the year continues we will likely see the curve continue to rise as more people adjust to the changed behaviours of driving electric. As uptake grows it will also help convince those on the fence about electric through seeing their friends and family making the switch. The increased EECA funding for the period will help to assist with EV charging infrastructure aiding the Clean Car Discount further in helping NZ make its way towards an electric future. Despite this, the jury is still out on whether it is moving fast enough to reach our carbon neutral goals and catch up with the rest of the world.

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