Key Points:

​ The country's CEOs are highlighting electric cars as the easiest and quickest way to help reduce carbon emissions. "We need to make use of our mainly renewables-based electricity supply and move more rapidly to electric vehicles," says Geoff Hunt of Hawkins Group. "I have been delighted to observe the rapid evolution generated by the market responding to this need (a low-carbon future), particularly with motor vehicles and power walls. It is incredibly exciting," says Matthew Cockram of private investment firm, Cooper and Company. Forty-nine per cent of chief executive respondents to the Herald's survey say New Zealand is not doing enough to transition to a low-carbon future. Some suggested the issue could really only be tackled at the global level and that political games were getting in the way of action. "We should boldly embrace electric vehicles as a priority," says a media boss. An energy chairman talks of the need "to electrify the transportation fleet." Mercury chief executive Fraser Whineray says New Zealand is one of just a few countries in the world that can reasonably consider moving to a total renewable energy rather than a renewable electricity target. "The renewable electricity target will be met as soon as Tiwai goes, and therefore that policy objective is 'in the bag'. "Enhancing renewable energy is where we need to now focus, since it is a genuine competitive advantage for the country. There are two significant choices for reducing emissions -- the cow or the car. "With renewable electricity at the equivalent of 30 cents a litre, switching to an electric car (or e-bike) is the fastest way to reduce emissions." Mainfreight's Don Braid says transitioning to electric cars is a prime example of lazy feet in this area. Transport Minister Simon Bridges is pushing for more electric cars on our roads. He believes New Zealand is "the most electric vehicle-ready country in the world" because of its significant renewable electricity sources, motorists' relatively short travel distances, and the high proportion of off-street parking. New Zealand motorists drive an average of around 33km a day, much less than the usual range for an electric vehicle (EV), and 85 per cent of drivers park off-street, so they have ready access to a power source. At present, the only Government policy designed to increase the use of plug-in cars is an exemption on road user charges. Other countries, such as Norway, Germany and Denmark, already provide incentives to buy electric cars.

We need to make use of our mainly renewables-based electricity supply and move more rapidly to electric vehicles.
Geoff Hunt of Hawkins Group
Expanding the EV fleet here is seen by the Government as an option for quickly reducing New Zealand's carbon footprint. Around 20 per cent of New Zealand's carbon emissions come from transport, and 60 per cent of all transport energy consumption come from light passenger vehicles. The Government is aiming to double the number of electric vehicles on the roads to 64,000 by 2021, and is working to buy electric vehicles in bulk across the government and private sector. Government agencies are being asked to support the development and roll-out of public charging stations, as well as information and guidance. An electric vehicle leadership group with local business and central government has been established to review tax depreciation rates and calculations to ensure electric vehicles are not unfairly disadvantaged. Several suggested the Government should offer tax incentives or major subsidies to encourage early adoption of electric vehicles and/or solar power. A number highlighted the need to also target agricultural emissions, which are a major contributor to carbon emissions in New Zealand -- and to address water quality issues. A chemical group boss suggested New Zealand should issue a biofuel mandate similar to that in place in Europe (the Renewable Energy Directive), pointing out that this country is endowed with many renewable resources that could be used to generate renewable liquid fuels. But there was a clear sense that little would happen without setting firm targets such as 100 per cent of electricity generation from renewables by 2030. Or introducing a biofuel mandate.