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NEW Zealand is planning a huge increase in EV registrations by 2035 as the country unveils its climate change roadmap, but the nation’s auto industry body doubts that sufficient new EVs will be available to meet that ambition.

NZ’s Climate Change Commission this week released its final report laying out the roadmap for the country to slash emissions, including having EVs make up almost all car imports by 2035.

The Motor Industry Association (MIA) however believes the potential for there to be limited availability of right-hand drive EVs as a means of lowering transport emissions will put a dampener on the ambitions outlined in the report.

In the 400-page document, the Commission estimates there will be fewer imported used EVs than the current level, but that new EV use will continue to grow – NZ sells more imported used cars than it sells imported new cars, and it is this point about growth in new EVs that has concerned the MIA.

Its CEO, David Crawford, told GoAutoNews Premium: “The main issue for us is the availability of right-hand drive new EVs. Most EVs are made for Europe, China and North America which are all left-hand drive markets that have an insatiable demand for low-emission vehicles.

“Globally, New Zealand has only 0.18 per cent of all new vehicle sales and so does not register on the OEMs’ financial analysis for cost-effective production.

“The overwhelming reaction from distributors operating in NZ is: Where will the vehicles come from? Supply will be an issue for some time to come yet.”

David Crawford

Mr Crawford says the new vehicle sector “would love” to sell as many electric vehicles as they want, “but this side of 2030, it is highly unlikely we will be able to get enough electric vehicles to reach half of light vehicle imports by 2029”.

“Bulk procurement of EVs is a welcomed recommendation. However, as the world scrambles to buy EVs, the government’s ability to buy in bulk is likely to remain constrained for some years to come,” he said.

Mr Crawford also highlighted issues with selling used EVs imported from other right-hand drive markets into NZ.

The question of used imported EV’s “is an area where MIA feels less than comfortable,” he said.

“These vehicles are older technology and battery recycling issues are the main concerns. Battery recycling is being worked on, but there is no scheme in place yet.”

Mr Crawford said that the commission’s proposal to ban internal-combustion engines as soon as 2030 and no later than 2035 “is also in our view overly ambitious.”

“The MIA supports their recommendation to develop a low-carbon fuel market such as hydrogen, synthetic fuels and biofuels,” he said.

“This will be more effective in quickly reducing the transport sector’s CO2 emissions.”

Mr Crawford added that in the need to push for lower transport emissions, incentives for EV buyers would help address price differences between EVs and petrol/diesel cars.

He said the Climate Change Commission’s report made some “good suggestions on a package of regulatory tools aimed at accelerating the uptake of low emissions vehicles”.

“These include a clean car standard incentives and various tax/accounting measures (fringe benefit tax reductions and depreciation treatment) and developing low carbon fuel markets,” he said.

The Commission’s report said it received more than 15,000 submissions in response to its draft advice released in late January.

The plan released this week, which will be analysed by the NZ government, has proposals for the first of three emissions budgets for the nation.

These set the maximum amount of greenhouse gas emissions over five-year blocks: 2025, 2026-2030 and 2031-35.

The report calls for increasingly stringent emissions reductions, from 15 per cent by 2025 for long-lived greenhouse gases (including carbon-dioxide, nitrous-oxide and methane) required to rise to 63 per cent by 2035, and for biogenic (plant and animal) methane, a 17 per cent cut by 2035.

The government has until the end of the year to respond with its own plans.

By Neil Dowling