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Kiwis nervous about self-driving cars & electric vehicles, survey finds
Tue, 14th Aug 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Kiwis are nervous about New Zealand's future in driving, especially when it comes to autonomous vehicles – and a nation full of electric vehicles is still a long way off.

These are some of the findings from a recent Trade Me Motors survey of 550 people, which found that most people are concerned about autonomous vehicles.

According to Trade Me Motors head Alan Clark, younger people are more relaxed about autonomous or self-driving cars than their older counterparts, as only 28% say they are apprehensive.

“Almost two-thirds of Kiwis are worried about autonomous vehicles, with women (74%) significantly more sceptical than men (56%),” Clark says.

“People are most worried about the vehicles being hacked, along with the legalities around liability if the car crashed. All in all it seems self-driving cars will need to clock up a fair few kilometres of trust before Kiwis are okay with them on our roads.

Autonomous cars aren't the only vehicles that are yet to pick up the pace. The survey found that only 11% of respondents are considering an electric vehicle (EV) for their next purchase.

Despite the rise of electric and hybrid vehicles, 71 per cent of Kiwis said that the next vehicle they purchase will be the tried and true petrol or diesel.

Petrol was the most popular choice for 18-25 year olds, with 67 per cent claiming that their next vehicle purchase will be petrol.

“EVs are going from strength-to-strength with companies like Tesla making huge media waves and incredible technological advances, yet it's clear many New Zealand motorists are still hesitant,” Clark notes.

While that number is small, it is encouraging and Clark says that number will keep growing.

“Battery life, cost and reliability were the chief concerns of Kiwis and these are only going to improve as EV technology expands,” Clark says.

41% of respondents are concerned about battery life; 18% are concerned about the cost of owning and operating an EV; and 12% are concerned about overall reliability.

“Despite the ongoing savings, the initial outlay for an EV is a clear deterrent. The average cost for an EV onsite in July was $24,000 while the average price for a car on Trade Me was just $16,000 in July.

“Price is a massive factor for most people aged 18-25, so we won't see the younger demographic moving towards EVs until they're more affordable.

On top of that, there aren't too many charging stations outside the main centres and it can be a challenge to plan a journey. Clark says this can put people off.

People also need to consider the additional costs of installing a charging station in a home garage.

Despite EVs accounting for only 0.18% of New Zealand's national vehicle fleet, Kiwis are keeping an eye on what's going on in the EV space.

There's been a 71% increase in the number of EVs being added to members' watchlists on Trade Me in the last year. There has also been an influx of EVs onsite with the number of listings climbing 72% year-on-year.

To encourage used-car buyers to consider EVs, New Zealand needs new EVs first, Clark explains.

“It's great to see the Government's initiative to convert its fleet to electric because this will eventually mean more used EVs on the market for the average Kiwi. However, the challenges the Government is currently facing to make this switch is indicative of the challenge EVs have in gaining more of a foothold in the New Zealand market.

“There is a long road ahead before EVs become the vehicle of choice for Kiwis and we achieve the zero carbon emission goal. We need to see a larger investment in charging stations throughout the country and bigger incentives for Kiwis to make the switch, until then the internal combustion engine will continue to lead the way.”