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Kiwis warming up to electric vehicles, cost remains barrier

By Shannon Williams
Tue 30 Jul 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

An increasing number of Kiwis are looking at electric vehicles, however their high cost remains a massive deterrent. 

A new survey by Trade Me has revealed 74% of Kiwis would consider buying an electric vehicle for their next purchase. That figure is up from only half of respondents to the same question a year ago. 

More than 1,300 New Zealanders took part in the survey, which looked at Kiwis perceptions of electric vehicles (EVs).

“We were keen to see how much EVs had come onto the radar of petrol-head New Zealand,” says lan Clark, head of motors at Trade Me.

“We were stunned to find out that nearly three-in-four New Zealanders would consider an EV for their next vehicle.”

Clark says New Zealanders had recently warmed up to EVs. 

“Just last year we asked Kiwi motorists the same question and only half of respondents said they would look at an EV for their next vehicle. That is a huge shift in mindset in just 12 months,” he says.

“With climate change top of mind for many people, a range of new models on the market, rising fuel costs and the governments new plan to subsidise EVs, we think more Kiwis will make the switch in the near future,” says Clark.

The initial outlay, however, is the biggest deterrent for New Zealanders with 69% claiming the cost of buying an EV is the number one reason why they haven’t already jumped on the bandwagon, the survey found.

Clark says the average cost for an EV on Trade Me in June was approximately $25,000, while the average petrol/diesel car was just $16,000.

Clark says that despite the leaps and bounds EVs have made, Kiwis are still more likely to buy a petrol vehicle than any other.

“While three-quarters of respondents said they would consider an EV, when the rubber hits the road, they are most likely to buy a petrol vehicle next,” he explains.

“Cost is of course a motivating factor to New Zealand consumers,” says Clark. 

“While you can pick up a used EV onsite for around $13,000, they don’t fit into everyones budget. On the whole EVs are slightly more expensive to purchase and while people are considering EVs more and more, some just can’t justify the spend at this stage,” he says.

Clark adds that we don;t have a lot of EVs in New Zealand in comparison to petrol and diesel vehicles; of the 95,000 vehicles for sale on Trade Me, 1,000 of those are electric.

“Kiwis are also concerned about running out of charge before reaching their destination with range concerns being the second most common reason for not purchasing an EV,” he says. “As a nation we love a road trip and stopping at regular intervals to charge doesn’t appeal to many people.”

Clark says these factors will be overcome by time and technology advancement, and he says it will be interesting to see how the government’s proposed subsidy on electric vehicles will impact buying habits. 

“Our survey suggests theres certainly an appetite for EVs and we’ll probably see more of them on the road if prices dip,” he says.

“We’ve seen a growing number of Kiwis looking at EVs onsite,” says Clark. “Theres been a 34% jump in the number of EVs being added to Kiwi’s watchlists when compared to last year.”

Clark says the number of EVs for sale onsite has also increased, rising 17% on June last year.

Clark says this had been driven by an increase in the number of dealers who are importing and supporting used EVs to offer New Zealanders a wider range.

The survey showed that the longer it takes for us to commute, the more likely we are to consider an EV.

“Respondents who have a total daily commute of 60 minutes or longer are more likely to think about joining the EV revolution with 80% saying they’d consider it,” Clark says. 

“On the other hand, of those who have a daily commute of 20 minutes or less, 71% would think about an EV for their next vehicle,” he adds.

“Like with any new technology, EVs will only get better as advancements are made in their range, charging speed and abilities,” Clark says. “You only need to look at a company like Tesla to see just how far these vehicles have come.

“New Zealand’s charging infrastructure is relatively weak too - as more charge points pop up around the country they’ll become more of an option for Kiwi motorists,” Clark explains.

“As electric vehicles become more common on our roads and we see a rise in the number of used models at a lower price point, we expect more Kiwis will get behind the wheel of an EV.

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