Increase in electric vehicle numbers, fleet still tiny

The Government has significantly increased the number of electric vehicles in it’s fleet.

NZ Herald:  Just how green is the ministerial car fleet?

The Government has confirmed it intends to transition its full fleet, including the 32 BMW 7-series vehicles, to emissions-free vehicles by 2026.

In total, 29 per cent of all ministerial vehicles – including Crown and self-drive cars are electric vehicles (EVs). That’s up from 2 per cent this time last year.

A major increase, with plans to continue converting the fleet to EVs.

The complete Crown fleet is made up of 72 vehicles, both owned and leased.

But a tiny fleet.

EVs aren’t viable for everyone yet. The up front cost will put many people off, with few fully battery powered vehicles and chargeable hybrids costing from about $50 thousand. With reduced energy costs the life time cost may be lower, and the Government can ‘afford’ to invest up front, but many people will be reluctant to do this.

This comes not long after the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on New Zealand’s roads passed 10,000 – that’s up from just 210 five years ago.

Although that’s a dramatic increase, it makes up just 0.25 per cent of New Zealand’s total vehicle fleet.

A tiny fraction of cars on the road.

Apart from around town driving there are other drawbacks. One major one is the limited range of EVs – it is improving, but still well behind the range of a car on a tank of petrol.

There is also only a small number of charging stations around the country.

And even if you can find a charging station on a trip you have to wait until the car is recharged. This takes much longer than pumping petrol.

One option without the limitations are hybrid EVs that use a petrol engine supplemented by battery power. These are much more competitively priced – new Toyota Corolla hybrids cost much the same as conventional Corollas. But they only reduce fuel use by up to a third, a significant saving making these economically attractive, but only a partial solution in reducing fossil fuel use.

Another issue I haven’t seen addressed – if there was a major shift to EVs, where would the power come from to charge them? Most of our current power supply is renewable, mainly hydro, with some wind.  A big increase in wind generation would create continuity of supply problems because of weather variability. Wind power can only supplement on demand power sources.

The Government is setting a good example switching to EVs, but they would do much better if they came up with a plan for how to fuel the inevitable increase in EV use.

95% of vehicles need to be zero-emission by 2050

Minister of Climate Change James Shaw has a very ambitious target for “the ground vehicle fleet” (cars, trucks, buses and trains) – he says that 95% need to be zero emission by 2050. That means electric, person powered or powered by some other zero emission fuel.

RNZ: Carbon neutral goal reliant on electric cars – Govt

If New Zealand is to meet its zero carbon pledge, nearly all the country’s cars will have to be zero-emission by 2050, Climate Change Minister James Shaw says.

Mr Shaw said achieving the country’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050 was reliant on significantly boosting the uptake of plug-in vehicles.

“We can’t get to the zero-emissions carbon goal without switching over the ground vehicle fleet to electrics. You just can’t get there,” he said.

“We think that means about 95 percent of vehicles in the year 2050 will be zero-emissions vehicles.”

That’s an ambitious target given the current use of electric vehicles.

As of June, roughly 8700 plug-in cars are on the road of a total fleet of more than four million.

That’s about 2%, so a long way to go.

Not only will it mean a huge increase in electric vehicles, it will also mean disposing of a large number of petrol and diesel fueled vehicles.

Associate Transport Minister Julie-Anne Genter dismissed the suggestion that was unrealistic.

“What is possible in 2030 will be far different from what we imagine being possible today.”

We simply don’t know what will be possible in 2030, or in 2050.

Not only will it need a massive change in vehicle type, and if the Greens achieve what they want a massive shift to public transport, it will require a large increase in electricity production.

Zero emissions will need to apply to vehicle manufacturing as well.

There is unlikely to be a major change to hydro capacity because flooding land is not very popular these days.

Wind and solar energy are only a part of the solution.

The target is unrealistic until the Government comes up with a viable plan.

Electric vehicle ‘corrective taxes’ to incentivise behaviour

A couple of tweets in close proximity:

And:

This doesn’t properly sum up ‘incentives’ that would tax mostly poor people (as illustrated here) – it doesn’t show the giving of those taxes to mostly richer people, who are far more likely to be buying new vehicles. Perhaps that’s why Morgan likes the idea.

Levy on traditional vehicles may fund ‘freebate’ for electric vehicles

The Productivity Commission has put out a draft discussion document calling for drastic measures to shift from fossil fuels to clean electricity. One proposal, being promoted by climate change minister James Shaw, is to put a surcharge on new vehicles that rely on fossil fuels and use that to provide a ‘freebate’ to lower the price of electric vehicles.

RNZ: Fuel-car levy could subsidise electric vehicles – govt

In a draft discussion document, the Productivity Commission estimated carbon prices may need to be 12 times higher, up to $250 a tonne, to reach the government’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

That is a huge change in what is supposed to be a market.

It called for a shift from fossil-fuels to clean electricity and greater use of farmland for forestry and horticulture.

Green Party co-leader and Climate Change Minister James Shaw told Morning Report one option being looked at was the prohibitive cost of electric vehicles.

“So what the report is talking about is a freebate system where essentially we charge a price on – we put a levy on – fossil fuel vehicles and you use that revenue to subsidise electric vehicles.”

“What we all know right is that electric vehicles are a lot cheaper to run because they’re roughly about a third of the price per kilometre versus petrol, they’re a lot cheaper to maintain because they’ve got fewer moving parts, but the up-front cost of the vehicle is prohibitive.”

“If we continue to allow greenhouse gas emissions to increase, and we don’t invest in new technologies, and we don’t switch our car fleet and we don’t change how we do electricity, then yes they’re suggesting that there will be a bit of a shock to the economy.”

He said he did not know when such a change might be brought in, and it was just one of many options they were considering.

National is critical:

National’s transport spokesperson Jami-Lee Ross said the government should follow their lead and continue prioritising electric vehicles for the crown fleet.

Mr Ross said a levy would hit people at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum hard.

He said people who can only afford cheap secondhand Japanese imports would effectively be subsidising the cost of electric cars for the wealthier New Zealanders who can afford them.

That same argument applies in part to subsidies for home insulation and for installations of solar panels.

For vehicles this could be resolved by putting a big enough levy on fossil fuel driven vehicles to enable a full ‘freebate’ – giving electric vehicles to poor people for free. That would be popular, especially in the winter for those who are given a free handout to help pay power bills.

Should New Zealand ban internal combustion engines?

It is difficult to imagine the degree of disruption and change that we would have in New Zealand if internal combustion engines were banned. But this is what some people want.

Dominion Post: Why New Zealand should ban internal combustion engines

THOMAS ANDERSON AND JONATHAN BOSTON

Bold and decisive actions are necessary if New Zealand is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions substantially.

The new Labour-led Government has committed to introducing a zero carbon bill later this year. But how should the aims of such legislation be achieved?

Of such measures, perhaps the most effective would be a ban on the sale of all new or imported used vehicles with internal combustion engines. Such a ban could take effect, say, from 2030.

At least that would be twelve years to prepare.

Many developed and developing countries have already introduced or are seriously contemplating such bans.

Britain, France, Ireland, Germany, India and China are listed – if car manufacturing countries ban internal combustion engines that would have a flow on effect here anyway.

New Zealand should follow suit.

As it stands, our transport sector accounts for around 18 per cent of annual gross greenhouse gas emissions and over a third of carbon-dioxide emissions. Emissions from road vehicles make up over 90 per cent of our total transport emissions. Hence, a ban on the sale of new petrol or diesel vehicles would, in due course, considerably reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

It could also considerably change how people travel. It would presumably also affect freight – and at the moment I don’t think there is EV technology that would handle long haul trucking. And if it also applies to rail that would require electrification of all existing rail lines, a huge and costly exercise.

About 85 per cent of our stationary energy comes from renewable sources and this percentage continues to increase. Accordingly, EVs can be recharged in New Zealand with a very low carbon footprint.

18% isn’t that much different to the 15% of non-renewable stationary energy.

And from RNZ yesterday: Electric vehicles could put strain on power network

There are fears that an increase in the uptake of electric vehicles could end up overloading the electricity network.

Electric vehicles make up less than one percent of the entire fleet, but it has been predicted they could make up 70 percent of it by 2050.

Consultant Simon Coates told Nine To Noon that if this happened they would account for 40 percent of domestic electricity usage and would place a strain on the network.

The above proposal is for a 100% electric fleet by 2030, but back to the ban proposal…

Of course, even with such a ban it will take decades to decarbonise New Zealand’s transport fleet. In 2016 close to 40 per cent of light vehicles were at least 15 years old. If the current age structure is maintained over the coming decades, it will be mid-century, even with a ban, before most petrol and diesel vehicles are phased out.

It  may make sense to move away from internal combustion as quickly as possible, but it will be complex, difficult and costly.

A ban of the kind suggested would serve multiple purposes. It would underscore New Zealand’s global commitment to substantial emissions reductions. It would help give substance to our claim to be ‘clean and green’. It would send a powerful signal to the automotive industry and consumers, thereby altering expectations and decision-making.

Moreover, it would help improve planning in the transport sector by providing greater certainty. In so doing, it would speed up the required investment in a comprehensive charging infrastructure and hasten the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The planning required would be huge.

It might be argued that the proposed ban is unnecessary. After all, by 2030 most automobile manufacturers will probably have ceased producing internal combustion engines. But a high proportion of vehicles sold in New Zealand are used imports rather than new vehicles. New Zealand must not continue to be a dumping ground for cheap, out-of- date, high-carbon technologies. We must aspire to a better, cleaner future and act accordingly.

This is fine as an aspirational ideal, but there is no attempt to detail what this would actually require and mean for New Zealand.

There is also no costings – how much would be required to convert? And what would the resulting transport costs be like?

Who has proposed this?Not a couple of young Green idealists.

Thomas Anderson is a Research Assistant at Victoria University of Wellington. Jonathan Boston is Professor of Public Policy at VUW.

Transport Minister fails to consult on EVs

Minister of Transport Simon Bridges has announced that the Government will pass legislation allowing electric vehicles to use bus lanes, but has ignored advice that he should consult with councils.

NZ Herald: Simon Bridges faces backlash over electric cars in bus lanes

Transport Minister Simon Bridges ignored official advice to consult with councils before announcing he would allow electric cars to use bus lanes.

He now faces a backlash with one council indicating it won’t implement the policy and another considering whether to enforce it.

Documents from the Ministry show he was told it would be “important to discuss” the measure before making any form of announcement on the Government’s high-profile, multimillion-dollar bid to get more New Zealanders into electric cars.

The advice said councils would likely be uninterested in allowing electric vehicles [EVs] in bus lanes because of the impact on public transport.

But the Herald checked with the nation’s three biggest councils, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, and none say they were consulted with before the announcement.

The only authority which was consulted with was the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Promoting electric vehicle use is a good thing. Not consulting is poor from Bridges.

But things get confusing.

Bridges…said the Government would pass the legislation because it was the “single most effective non-financial incentive you can put in place to increase [electric vehicle] uptake”.

Bridges said the Government was not mandating EVs in bus lanes as ultimately it would be a decision for the Transport Agency and regional councils.

However, through changing the legislation councils would “have the opportunity” to assess whether it was a good option for their region or not.

So does the legislation allow  electric vehicle use of bus lanes but not make it compulsory?

Councils foresee potential problems:

Andy Foster of the Wellington City Council said his city had the country’s highest rate of public transport use “by far” and did not foresee it opting for the change.

“Traffic getting in the buses’ way is not conducive to maintaining reliable timetables.”

“Bus lanes are generally very well respected by motorists. If some vehicles start using bus lanes because they are [electric] there is a greater risk that others which are not [electric] will do so too.

It must make policing more difficult too. It’s easy to spot the difference between a bus and a car but not so easy to see what is powering a car.

And there is no mention of whether hybrids would qualify as electric vehicles or not.

So would the Greens support a push for electric or oppose the lack of consultation?

Instead Julie Anne Genter blasts the policy for other reasons.

Green Party transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter said Bridges “probably hoped” the policy would distract from the fact he wasn’t offering any new financial incentive.

Genter called Bridges’ electric vehicle plan “all back to front”.

“Auckland’s buses are already unreliable and too often stuck behind cars in traffic because of not enough bus lanes. The government would reduce pollution more effectively if it invested to support more reliable and frequent public transport in Auckland.”

Genter said the Green Party would exempt electric vehicles from fringe benefit tax, a move that would cut at least $8000 from a $40,000 electric car.

Exempting FBT would benefit businesses and employees who were provided with electric vehicles but not private owners.

Shouldn’t substantially lower running costs be sufficient financial incentive? And how much have the Greens consulted on their EV policy?

But the main story here is the lack of consultation from the person in power, Simon Bridges, ignoring advice from Ministry officials. Not that he should need to be advised to consult, it should be standard practice.

Promoting electric vehicles

Two days ago we discussed electric vehicles here in Electric vehicle advantage.

Today the Government announced incentives to buy and use electric vehicles in New Zealand with a target of doubling the number of them every year with a target of about 64,ooo by 2021.

That’s still not a big number compared to the 3 million passenger cars and vans and 600 thousand goods vans, trucks and utilties (as at March 2016 as per registered vehicles in National Vehicle Fleet Status)

Transport Minister Simon Bridges released this information:

GOVT DRIVING THE SWITCH TO ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Transport Minister Simon Bridges today announced an ambitious and wide ranging package of measures to increase the uptake of electric vehicles in New Zealand.

“It’s clear that electric vehicles are the future. A move from petrol and diesel to low emission transport is a natural evolution, and it is our aim to encourage that switch sooner, rather than later,” Mr Bridges says.

“The benefits of increasing uptake of electric vehicles are far-reaching. They’re cheaper to run than petrol or diesel vehicles, they’re powered by our abundant renewable electricity supply, and they’ll reduce the amount of emissions that come from the country’s vehicle fleet.”

The package announced today will tackle and remove barriers that have until now prevented households and business from choosing electric. Current barriers include the limited selection of models available; a lack of widespread public charging infrastructure; and lack of awareness about electric vehicles.

“The Government can’t tackle these barriers alone. That’s why we’ve been working closely with the private sector and local government over the last year on what measures we can take that will have the greatest impact.

“What we’ve come up with together is a strong package of measures that is ambitious and has real substance,” Mr Bridges says.

The Government’s package includes:

  • A target of doubling the number of electric vehicles in New Zealand every year to reach approximately 64,000 by 2021
  • Extending the Road User Charges exemption on light electric vehicles until they make up two percent of the light vehicle fleet
  • A new Road User Charges exemption for heavy electric vehicles until they make up two percent of the heavy vehicle fleet
  • Work across Government and private sector to investigate the bulk purchase of electric vehicles
  • Government agencies coordinating activities to support the development and roll-out of public charging infrastructure including providing information and guidance
  • $1 million annually for a nation-wide electric vehicle information and promotion campaign over five years
  • A contestable fund of up to $6 million per year to encourage and support innovative low emission vehicle projects
  • Allowing electric vehicles in bus lanes and high-occupancy vehicle lanes on the State Highway network and local roads
  • Review of tax depreciation rates and the method for calculating fringe benefit tax to ensure electric vehicles are not being unfairly disadvantaged
  • Establishing an electric vehicles leadership group across business, local and central government.

The package also seeks to realise the many benefits that electric vehicles offer up.

“This includes annual savings of Road User Charges of $600 a year for the average vehicle owner and much cheaper operating costs. On average, charging an electric vehicle at home is equivalent to buying petrol at 30 cents a litre, compared to petrol which is around $2 a litre.”

Mr Bridges says the package is an important part of the Government’s work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector.

“Electric vehicles will maximise New Zealand’s renewable advantage, with more than 80% of the country’s electricity coming from hydro, geothermal and wind.  The increased use of electric vehicles will replace petrol and diesel with clean, green, locally produced energy.

“If we start to replace New Zealand’s fleet with electric vehicles, we can begin to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”

Further information on the Government’s Electric Vehicles Programme is available here: www.transport.govt.nz/ev.

 

Electric vehicle advantage

Not surprisingly the Greens want a large increase in the use of electric vehicles in New Zealand.

In NZ only 1/4 of 1% of new vehicle sales are electric. Compared to around 10% in some European countries such as Norway.

“Such as Norway” is a bit selective, Norway has the largest per capita fleet of plug in electric vehicles in the world (although electric vehicles are still only at 3% of total vehicles).

Why so many comparatively in Norway? Financial incentives.

From Electric Car Sales Surge In Norway During 2015:

There’s no mystery why electric cars are so popular in Norway. To paraphrase an old saying, “It’s the incentives, stupid!”

Norway exempts most plug-in hybrid and electric cars from sales tax and registration fees. That makes them price competitive with conventional cars. It also gives EV drivers access to commuter lanes, free parking in most cites, and exempts them from most ferry and bridge tolls.

Incentives make a huge difference. In  Sweden, which shares the same peninsular with Norway, the government is much less interested in promoting electric cars. As a result, sales of plug-ins and electric cars in Sweden are a small fraction of what they are in Norway.

 So Norway isn’t a representative example of European countries, it’s an extreme example.

More detail from Wikipedia:

Among the existing incentives, all-electric cars and utility vans are exempt in Norway from all non-recurring vehicle fees, including purchase taxes, which are extremely high for ordinary cars, and 25% VAT on purchase, together making electric car purchase price competitive with conventional cars.

Electric vehicles are also exempt from the annual road tax, all public parking fees, and toll payments, as well as being able to use bus lanes. These incentives are in effect until the end of 2017 or until the 50,000 EV target is achieved.

That still isn’t a high proportion of vehicles.