Until recently, Tauranga City Council required staff to get special "training" before they could drive an electric car donated to the fleet by Councillor John Robson.

The policy has been blamed for what Robson called the "disappointingly low" usage of the leased Hyundai Ioniq electric car since he gifted it in 2017 - paying $38,000 for a three year lease - to make good on an election pledge.

When he was first elected in 2013, Robson promised to donate a portion of his salary if the voters did not want him back the following term.

He did not make the cut in 2016 - hence, the donation - but was returned to the council last year after winning the byelection that followed the death of Councillor Gail McIntosh.

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Tauranga City Councillor John Robson at his swearing-in ceremony. File photo
Tauranga City Councillor John Robson at his swearing-in ceremony. File photo

In a council Policy Committee discussion about climate change on Tuesday, Robson said he recently drove the car and was disappointed to see how few kilometres it had done.

He asked what was being done to encourage staff to use it.

"Last time I looked, the amount of usage it was getting was disappointingly low."

He said he heard staff were required to do special training to drive the car.

"People are having to go through some sort of course to drive a car that has a brake, an accelerator and a steering wheel the same as every other car in the council's fleet."

Responding to questions from the Bay of Plenty Times, corporate services manager Paul Davidson said the council had, until recently, required staff to complete a "practical induction" before they could use the vehicle.

The new policy made one-on-one training "optional" for "staff who needed some extra support to use the EV [electric vehicle]".

Tauranga City Council corporate services manager Paul Davidson. Photo / George Novak
Tauranga City Council corporate services manager Paul Davidson. Photo / George Novak

"The EV is relocating to Cameron Rd basement car park from Monday, June 24 so that it will be more readily available for more staff to use so that we can further increase its usage and awareness in its last year under lease," Davidson said.

He said the odometer was sitting at about 10,000km.

Council staff would still be required to take "our e-bike practical assessment training by in-house NZTA approved assessors" to use one of the council's e-bikes.

Robson told the Bay of Plenty Times he did not do the induction before driving the car to Hamilton recently.

"It's just like any other car."

He understood that since the policy changed, the car was getting more use.