What are the benefits of the government’s electric vehicle incentive programme?

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Despite the government’s incentives, it looks that most Kiwis will continue to pay five figures for dependable, low-emission automobiles.

Rebates for new imported EVs range from $8000 to slightly over $2000 for old plug-in hybrid imports.

Checkpoint went shopping with one of Auckland’s largest second-hand low emission dealers – Auckland City Electric Vehicles – to see what sort of wheels are available for city-dwellers, long-distance commuters and families, both little and large.

That’s because we’ve heard the government’s running a pretty good deal. On paper, one that can’t be missed, where it’ll pay us for selecting our dream, fuel-efficient fully electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid.

ACEV director and general manager Hadley Hargadon said spending $10,000 on a low-emission vehicle would leave drivers restricted if they wanted to leave town.

“Don’t and go and buy a $9000 car and then expect it to do 300km on a charge because that’s simply not going to be the case,” he said.

Instead, he walked us over to a bright orange, zero-emission 2016 Nissan Leaf – priced at $18,395, or about $15,000 with a rebate.

Hargadon said buyers should look for a battery that would not die on the way home from the after school pick up or after a full day of errands.

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“People might be tempted because the year’s good, it’s got low kilometres but it really does depend on the battery,” he said.

“Don’t be fooled by low kilometres with the Nissan Leaf because what we do find is that cars that are used more can maintain that battery more. So it’s always state of health with these.”

But what if you’re taking a four hour road trip to Lake Taupō? Hargadon suggested a plug-in hybrid Mitsubishi Outlander.

“These have been very, very popular here in New Zealand and a great option for size as well,” he said.

He recently sold a Highlander for about $35,000, or roughly $32,250 with a rebate – not bad, but certainly not accessible for all Kiwi motorists.

And what if you’re a family of seven on a budget?

“A hybrid van’s probably your most efficient and clean car in terms of needing those seats,” he said.

“If you want to go for something that’s relatively new you’re probably looking at $20,000 plus.”

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The government’s clean car discount, starting on 1 July, applies to new and used imports with a new registration.

Hargadon showed Checkpoint an example of something that would not apply – a late-model Nissan Leaf.

“This car won’t be eligible for the rebate because it’s already been registered in New Zealand. So that goes through to any of the vehicles that we’ve traded in, we can’t say to the customer that they can get the rebate because it won’t be applicable.”

Hargadon has skin in the game when it comes to this country’s transition to low-emitting vehicles.

But we wanted to know straight up, what he made of this government’s plans and proposals.

Take the Climate Change Commission’s mooted ban on petrol and diesel car imports, ideally by 2030, but no later than 2035.

“People like big cars, they like big diesel cars, they like towing boats, everything like that,” Hargadon told Checkpoint.

“So we do need cars in the market that are going to attract those people to buying them more so than anything else. So we’re going to have to have a bit of a mindset change as to what is good about an electric vehicle.”

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More infrastructure – such as charging stations – were also needed to support the Government’s longed-for EV boom.

Hargadon envisaged other growing pains if the government’s measures spur demand.

“There’s going to be a problem with getting good stock still. I mean, we try and secure the best stock that we can and that was already becoming a little bit difficult,” he said.

“So I think really we may see a bit of a supply and demand thing take hold where prices may start to increase as well.”

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