Prince Harry and his new wife may have sped off in a classy, one-of-a-kind electric Jaguar but most electric vehicles aren't as sexy, and this needs to change says a marketing expert.

FCB head of strategy David Thomason said the view of Electric Vehicles (EVs) as dull and plain was one of several reasons they made up less than 1 per cent of the 3 million cars on New Zealand roads.

Thomason was the strategist behind Mercury Energy's latest ad campaign which featured a traditional muscle car being converted into an electric vehicle to show energy-efficiency didn't necessarily equate to dull.

"The psychology of driving a combustion vehicle is so ingrained into matters of identity, status, independence and freedom, and electric vehicles still have a long way to go to connect with us in a more emotional way," Thomason said.


"You can go on about the practical aspect of EVs but you have to get people excited about them, because it's a very emotional decision buying a car.

"Otherwise we'd all be buying practical, low-powered, economic vehicles so we need to change our thinking."

With petrol prices hitting a record $2.30 a litre, the cheaper running costs would likely be a bigger incentive for car buyers, he said.

In a survey of electric car owners by EV organisation Flip the Fleet, almost 50 per cent said they had bought an electric vehicle for its green credentials, followed by 33 per cent who quoted low running costs as the reason for purchase.

New Zealand aims to get 64,000 EVs on the road by 2021, including one third of Government vehicles, through incentives such as allowing them to use special vehicle lanes, exempting them from road user charges and subsidising projects through the LEVCF.

Boosting EV numbers would also require organisations including the government to support and promote the industry, similar to countries such as Norway, Thomason said.

In 2016, Norway's parliament set a non-binding goal that by 2025 all cars sold should be zero emissions.

Among other nations, France and Britain plan to ban sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.


Norway exempts new electric cars from most taxes, and grants perks that can be worth thousands of dollars a year in terms of free or subsidised parking, re-charging and use of toll roads, ferries and tunnels.

Sales of electric and hybrid cars in Norway outpaced regular combustion cars last year.

"It will take way longer than we would all like it to for [EV sales] to be the vast majority in New Zealand, but I think it will become very normal in a matter of three or four years," Thomason said.

"We're going to look back at petrol cars and go, 'What were we thinking'."