National Party leader Simon Bridges is back on the case of the Government and electric vehicles (EVs), saying the Government's own performance in its fleet is woeful with only 135 registered since taking office.

"The Government is sending a clear message to New Zealanders - do as we say but not as we do," said Bridges.

"In real terms the Government itself has done nothing on electric vehicles since the election, except propose more taxes."

Bridges has already slammed as a "car tax" a proposal announced last week by Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter which sets charges or subsidies for new and used cars at their first point of sale, depending on their pollution profile.


He said charging more for bigger cars penalised people in trades, farmers and families with kids who were not going to fit into a Suzuki Swift.

But Bridges denies that his continued griping meant he was anti-EV.

"National believes electric vehicles are the future."

He himself has had two electric cars and on his watch, EVs on New Zealand roads had gone from 1406 to 14,867.

One of the best ways to get more EVs on the road was to get them into the Government fleet of 15,500 vehicles, and they would at some point get into the second hard car market.

"When I was minister [of Economic Development] we saw the numbers go from a trickle to several thousand."

National had committed to harnessing the power of the Government fleet by making a third of it electric or hybrid by 2021 - as well as exempting other EVs from road user charges.

"That would have seen a lot of EVs flow into the second hand market."


It would have been good on the public purse too because by harnessing the bulk buying power of Government, the EVs would have come at a significant discount for the procurement officers within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Genter's proposed charges and subsidies would impose fees on new vehicles at the first point of sale on a sliding scale of up to $3000 for heavy emissions, and a subsidy of up to $8000 for low emission vehicles.

The fees and subsidies for used cars at the first point of sale would range up to a $1500 impost and up to a $2600 subsidy.

Bridges calls the fee a tax and says that while Genter has been quick to tell New Zealanders they needed to go out and buy an electric vehicle to avoid paying the Government's car tax, "she clearly isn't putting the screws on public servants".

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter said the benefit of the proposed policy would flow on into the second hand car market. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter said the benefit of the proposed policy would flow on into the second hand car market. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the Government had set ambitious targets for the government fleet.

"Our aim is for all new government light vehicles to be zero emissions by 2025. When agencies look to get replacement vehicles, they must aim to buy vehicles that emit 20 per cent less than their agency's current fleet average.

"Already [the] Government's CO2 emissions from light vehicles have decreased over the last quarter. "Electric cars are an important part of that and we're ramping up our agencies using them, with 135 brought into the fleet the last 18 months compared to 224 in the nine years under National."

Vehicles already registered in New Zealand would be exempt – or 70 per cent of vehicles sold each year.

Officials have estimated that the policy would prevent more than five million tonnes of pollution going into the atmosphere, would save $3.4 billion in fuel and result in fuel savings of $6800 over the lifetime of an average vehicle.