Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Government plan allows bus lane access for electric cars

Electric cars will soon be allowed to drive in bus lanes, the Government has revealed.

The rule change is part of a long-awaited plan to increase the uptake of electric vehicles in New Zealand.

The package of policies for e-vehicles, or EVs, which was originally scheduled for release late last year, was unveiled by Prime Minister John Key and Transport Minister Simon Bridges in Auckland this afternoon.

It included a target of doubling the number of electric cars every year, which would amount to 64,000 cars by 2021.

The main incentive for purchasing an electric car would be exemptions on road user charges, which would save a car owner an average of $600 a year.

The exemption was already in place for light electric cars, but would now be extended to heavier vehicles.

Motorists in EVs would also be permitted to drive in bus lanes and high-occupancy vehicle lanes on state highways and local roads.

To satisfy demand, the Government would work with the private sector to investigate the bulk purchase of electric cars.

Public sector agencies would also co-ordinate to support the development of charging infrastructure across the country.

In the medium-term, the Government will review tax depreciation rates and fringe benefit taxes to ensure that electric cars are not being unfairly disadvantaged.

Announcing the policy at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Mr Bridges said the benefits of a larger e-vehicle fleet were far-reaching.

"They're cheaper to run than petrol or diesel vehicles, they're powered by our abundant renewable electricity supply, and they'll reduce the amount of emissions that come from the country's vehicle fleet."

Mr Bridges said the policies were designed to remove some of the barriers to increased uptake in New Zealand, which included a limited selection of electric cars, lack of infrastructure, and poor awareness.

The Government has allocated $1 million to run an awareness campaign about the merits of switching from petrol or diesel to electric.

Mr Bridges said: "On average, charging an electric vehicle at home is equivalent to buying petrol at 30 cents a litre, compared to petrol which is around $2 a litre."

The Government has previously said New Zealand is an ideal location for electric cars because of its relatively high proportion of renewable energy.

New Zealand motorists also have relatively short travel distances and are likely to have off-street parking.

National's electric vehicle policy is also a vital part of the Government's bid to meet its climate change obligations.

The transport sector produces 20 per cent of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions, and cutting this pollution is seen as more palatable and achievable to the Government than cutting agriculture emissions.

NZH

- NZ Herald

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