How many Kiwis have cashed in on Government’s clean-car discount scheme

A fossil fuel-free cherry orchard in Pisa Hills received an electric tractor.Video/Tracy Barrett

The government has praised the success of its clean car discount scheme, which has secured nearly 20,000 discounts in the past four months.

But the opposition scoffed at the figures, claiming that only a fraction of the approved tax rebate applications were for fully electric vehicles.

Newstalk ZB can reveal that nearly 20,000 applications for rebates have been approved since the scheme was expanded in April this year.

The policy, designed to encourage people to buy cleaner cars, offers up to $8,625 off the price of an electric or low-emission vehicle.

These discounts are covered by a fee of up to $5,175 for less efficient vehicles.

Transport Minister Michael Wood said the plan “has exceeded expectations”.

He told ZB he was pleased with the way things were tracking and hoped to see more EVs in the future.

“We’re eager to see this growth over time – I’m totally confident it will.”

Transport Minister Michael Wood praised the plan.Photo/Mark Mitchell  How many Kiwis have cashed in on Government’s clean-car discount scheme
Transport Minister Michael Wood praised the plan.Photo/Mark Mitchell

But the opposition parties disagree.

National’s transport spokesman Simeon Brown said only about 2,000 or 10 per cent of those approved applications were for fully battery electric vehicles.

The rest are fuel-efficient and hybrid vehicles.

“The minister and the government are saying it’s not delivering a huge increase in electric vehicles,” Brown told ZB.

Brown said it was effectively a “wealth transfer” and suggested the government, including Wood, was “going ahead”.

“The reality is that he has a plan to tax hardworking farmers or artisans to subsidize those who can already afford expensive electric cars.”

Nearly 20,000 clean car rebates have been approved in the past four months.Photo/New Zealand Herald  How many Kiwis have cashed in on Government’s clean-car discount scheme
Nearly 20,000 clean car rebates have been approved in the past four months.Photo/New Zealand Herald

The plan specifically covers zero- and low-emission options, Wood said.

“On top of that, National will scrap the scheme, which means it will cost Kiwis more to clean cars,” he said.

Wood will review the policy’s fees and discounts in the coming months, as the amount refunded is millions of dollars more than what was charged.

In response to National’s written questions, Wood said that as of July, “19,243 applications for rebates have been approved under the expanded clean car discount scheme, of which 1,980 have been approved for full battery electric vehicles.”

“Administrative costs, including setup costs, are $7.8 million from program start to June 30, 2022.”

Wood also revealed that last month, Waka Kotahi was forced to apologise for missing more than a hundred rebate applications due to a system maintenance error.

“Officials contacted 163 applicants affected by the system error, apologised to them and asked them to resubmit their applications.”

Simon Brown of the national team.Photo/Brett Phoebes  How many Kiwis have cashed in on Government’s clean-car discount scheme
Simon Brown of the national team.Photo/Brett Phoebes

Brown claimed it was further proof that the policy was “untargeted and untidy” following reports that cars were being charged incorrectly with erroneous emissions or safety rating data.

Former Deputy Transport Minister and current Greens transport spokeswoman Julie-Anne Genter said the plan was “better late than never”.

She tried to initiate and implement the policy during the last term in Parliament, but was thwarted by New Zealand First.

“It’s very important to keep reviewing the program … we’re going to have to keep up with that over the next five to 10 years,” Genter said.

Asked about the National’s criticism and promise to repeal the policy if voted to power, Genter said the party “has no idea what they’re talking about”.

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