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New Zealand is exempting heavy electric vehicles from road use charges, a move that could save some truck drivers thousands of dollars a year.
A measure passed by Parliament June 27, which became law the next day, added large electric delivery trucks, buses and vans to the incentives already enjoyed by the country’s few drivers of electric passenger cars. It also grants all electric vehicles free access to high-occupancy lanes and bus lanes.
The Ministry of Transport estimates annual savings at NZ$2,480 ($1,806) for a medium-sized two-axle delivery truck, NZ$5,560 ($4,049) for a two-axle waste truck and NZ$6,140 ($4,472) for a trolley bus.
The value of the existing road user charge exemption for electric passenger cars is about NZ$558 ($406) a year.
Heavy electric vehicles, defined as any vehicle with a maximum gross weight of more than 3.5 metric tons, will be exempt from road charges until they comprise 2 percent of the heavy vehicle fleet. This would match arrangements already in place for light electric vehicles (up to 3.5 metric tons), which exempt them from road user charges until they make up 2 percent of the light vehicle fleet.
While New Zealand has about 4 million cars and trucks on its roads, fewer than 4,000 are electric vehicles, according to government figures. The country has set a goal of reaching 64,000 electric vehicles by 2021. In 2016, it had only 60 registered heavy electric vehicles, 57 of them electric trolley buses that operate in Wellington, the capital.
The ruling National Party introduced the measure, “an important part of the government’s work to improve the efficiency of our energy use and to meet our climate change commitments,” minister for energy and resources Judith Collins told Parliament.
But some lawmakers said the changes don’t do enough to encourage electric vehicle use.
“This is standing-still legislation,” said Labor member of Parliament Megan Woods. “It is not putting in place the kind of transformational change that will see the uptake of EVs happen faster,” Woods told Parliament.
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New Zealand's Energy Innovation (Electric Vehicles and Other Matters) Amendment Bill is available at http://src.bna.com/qtM.
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