Ford Mustang Mach-E next to a Tesla with racing stripes. Photo courtesy of Chris Chan.

New Zealand Electric Vehicle Price War?

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James of EVDB writes from New Zealand that calling the current situation in the land of the long white cloud an electric vehicle price war would be an overstatement, but that there is price movement. Newer generation EVs are arriving at lower price points (including the Great Wall Motors ORA Good Cat and the MG 4 — both yet to be released in Australia). And older EVs are being discounted. Examples include a discount of NZ$9,000 off the Nissan LEAF, NZ$20,000 off some Audi e-trons, and the Peugeot e-2008 and Opel Mokka-e have been discounted, as well. Peugeot is having a sale with NZ$5,000 off the Peugeot e-208. And Tesla, the villain here, has reduced prices on the Model 3 and Model Y by approximately 4%.

Check out the great interactive charts here.

Remember, New Zealand has a generous bonus/malus tax to discourage the purchase of fossil fuelled vehicles and encourage the uptake of EVs. Though, there is some speculation that the scheme may at some point run out of funds. The fine print reads: “If rebate funds are exhausted at any given time, no rebate will be paid.”

Overall market share was divided thusly: 25.7% plugless hybrid (HEV); 8% PHEV; 15% BEV; 9.2% diesel; 42.2% petrol.
The top selling BEV brands in NZ:

  1. Tesla — Model Y (127 sales) plus Model 3 (70 sales) captured 3% of the overall market
  2. BYD — Atto 3 (184 sales), another 3%
  3. Kia — EV6 (87 sales) and e-Niro (53 sales)
  4. Hyundai, with the most models available — Kona EV (54 sales), Ioniq 5 (28 sales), Ioniq (14 sales), and Ioniq 6 (12 sales).
  5. Ford was a surprise at number 5, carried by the Ford Mustang Mach-E (65 sales).
Electric Vehicle Price War
Ford Mustang Mach-E next to a Tesla with racing stripes. Photo courtesy of Chris Chan.

Small numbers of vehicles from just about all brands make up the rest. Notably, the Ora Cat has sold 26 EVs in its first month, auguring well for the future of this value packed model. The MG 4 is off to a slow start with just one registered.

Electric Vehicle Price War
Already selling well in New Zealand. Ora Good Cat.

For those of you who are curious like me, the PHEVs were mainly the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross (284 sales), with only 1 Outlander sold, and 95 plugin hybrid EVs from Kia. The bulk of the HEVs were Toyotas, with the RAV4 HEV topping the charts (493 sales).
So far, 2023 has not seen the exponential growth of the previous 12 months. It appears to be holding steady. But “the market shows a strong shift from petrol-only vehicles toward hybrids — especially in the used import market.” As you would expect, this segment is dominated by Toyota, with 30% of light vehicles registered in April.

New Zealand relies heavily on imported used EVs — mainly Nissan Leafs from Japan (which is also a right-hand-drive market). A recent article in The Guardian points out that New Zealanders love their cars, and love to drive, but that driving on the left hand side is hampering the accessibility of used imports, sometimes referred to as “New Zealand new.” The growth in EVs may have to come mainly from the new car markets. New Zealand has “one of the highest rates of car ownership in the world, with something like nine cars for every 10 people, and each car driven over 8,000 km a year. Given that a fifth of the population is children, this is a strikingly high rate of car ownership — and presents a key challenge to the country’s net zero goals.” The NZ government is aiming for 50% reduction in emissions by 2030.

Depending on Japan as a source for electric cars just doesn’t work. The Japanese auto industry is only now starting to plan for mass market EVs. Only 2% of new car sales in Japan were electric — so, in 5 years, there will be few second-hand cars available. Add to that the fact that NZ must compete with Australia for access to the used car offerings and you can see the issues.

“To address the likely shortage of second-hand EVs, households are likely to need support to reach into the new vehicle market.” The question is — what more support can the NZ government offer?

“For the second emissions budget period we propose recommending that the Government rapidly resolve the existing barriers to scaling up vehicle charging infrastructure, and at the same time develop incentives to accelerate the uptake of zero emissions commercial vehicles including vans, utes, and trucks.

“The greatest opportunities to reduce emissions through increased uptake of walking, cycling, and public transport are in major population centres, which account for 65% of national light vehicle kilometres travelled. We are therefore proposing to recommend that the Government simplify planning and increase funding of integrated transport networks that optimise public and active transport.”

New Zealand’s fleet already has almost 75,000 light electric vehicles and produces most of its electricity from hydropower. The agricultural sector produces emissions, but the government will be unable to reduce them due to political pressure.

Image courtesy of Evee

In other NZ news: Evee will rent you an electric car for an extended experience, much better than a 30-minute test drive. Limited cars appear to be available at present, but it is expected that the service will grow. Their motto: “Make your next adventure electric!”

Following similar programs around the world, Uber will launch a new electric vehicle (EV) subsidy programme in New Zealand that could put up to $10,000 back in the pockets of its drivers.

“From July 1, drivers with fully-electric vehicles will be eligible for a 50 per cent service fee discount of up to $5000 per year over two years. The move is part of a $7.5 million investment designed to accelerate New Zealand’s EV transition and help drivers with the cost of going electric.”

Sadly, the program is only available to the first 750 of 20,000 NZ Uber drivers.

Remember the LDV eT60 electric ute? There is one currently touring Australia with Solar Citizens. In NZ, 189 sold in April, as well as 6 eDeliver 3 cans and 1 eDeliver 9.

New EV models coming soon to NZ (and to Australia a few months after that, I hope) include the BYD Dolphin and the Renault Megane eTech. As an Australian, it is great to see our near neighbour making such progress with EVs. I watch with envy the range of cars that are available, but expect to see them in my home country soon also.

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David Waterworth

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

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