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MTA: Government misses opportunity

Rebates for EVs and plug-in hybrids praised, but issues with scheme raised and scrappage scheme called for.
Posted on 13 June, 2021
MTA: Government misses opportunity

The Motor Trade Association (MTA) has welcomed the clean-car discount package announced by the government.

However, it believes an opportunity has been missed to go further. 

“We have called for support on the demand side for a long time,” says Greig Epps, the MTA’s manager for advocacy and strategy.

“And we’re delighted the government has considered the safety aspect by setting a minimum three-star rating.

“We do believe there are still opportunities to strengthen the package further though.

“This can be done by making the rebate process easier for consumers, increasing the size of the rebate and focussing on carbon reduction rather than just electrification.”

Epps, pictured, says the proposed rebate process will still require buyers to have enough cash or take before applying for the rebate, which could be a hurdle for average Kiwi families.

“While dealers will be happy to help with making applications, perhaps the government could look at allowing buyers have access funds at the time of purchase, or for the dealer to access the funds on behalf of the buyer.”

The MTA believes the size of the rebate may be insufficient to stimulate demand to the level the government wants. 

In comparison to other countries, it says the level of rebate is proportionately far less.

Epps points out: “New EVs start at about $48,000 and average about $68,000, whereas you can get a really good new petrol car for under $30,000. The rebate only covers some of that gap.

“We think the government may need to reach a bit deeper into its pockets if it’s expecting families to reach into theirs.”

The MTA says the scheme could lower carbon emissions more if the rebate scheme had included traditional hybrid vehicles.

“In its final report, the Climate Change Commission acknowledged that hybrids will need to be a transition vehicle,” notes Epps.

“If we think about it in terms of available supply, there are fewer than 200,000 EVs in Japan compared with millions of hybrids, so it’s disappointing the government wasn’t willing to extend the rebate to hybrids as well.”

He emphasises the government’s announcement on June 13 has a continued focus on what is being brought into the country, but not what is currently on our roads.

“There remains the unanswered question of what we do with the existing fleet of 5.5 million vehicles,” says Epps.

“We need people to be thinking about how they keep their current vehicles running clean through regular servicing and the government should be looking at introducing emissions testing.”

He adds it will become increasingly unattractive for motor-vehicle dealers to take trade-ins of cars that are no longer desirable.

“So where do people go to remove their car from the fleet? More than ever, this country needs a comprehensive scrappage strategy.”