Climate change EV feebate: How green is the Government’s ministerial car fleet?

All but one Government minister’s self-drive car is now electric after an edict from the Prime Minister which did not please all ministers, the Herald understands.

Two years ago just over half the 26 vehicles that Ministers drove themselves – rather than where they are chauffeur-driven – were fully electric or plug-in hybrid.

The Herald understands Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said they must all opt for electric vehicles, without exceptions.

That meant EVs for ministers even in some of the most remote and expansive electorates with limited charging options, like the West Coast’s Damien O’Connor or Kelvin Davis in Te Tai Tokerau.

The latest figures from the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) show the vast majority have come on board, with just one Minister remaining driving a petrol or diesel vehicle.

The rest include 22 fully electric and three partially electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, none of the five Crown vans, which the Prime Minister chooses to use, are electric. Nor are the 20 Crown plated sedans – all BMW 7 series.

A DIA spokesperson said the issue with converting vehicles to electric versions was meeting range requirements.

The Crown fleet is comprised of chauffeur-driven vehicles as well as self-drive vehicles for Ministers and former prime ministers.

Overall, 60 per cent of 73 vehicles in the ministerial Crown fleet are classed as EVs – up from 29 per cent in 2019.

They include nine Crown SUVs that are electric, made up of six Audi EVs and three BMW plug-in hybrids.

There are a further four “Class 5” vehicles listed as “High security/specialist” in the Crown fleet, which the DIA excludes from its EV calculations.

The EVs include 30 that are fully electric, and 14 plug-in hybrids.

Former prime ministers are also entitled to a self-drive vehicle. These currently include three non-electric, fully electric and three partially electric vehicles

EV self-drive options for both Ministers and former prime ministers include the Hyundai Kona EV, Hyundai Ioniq EV, MG ZS EV, Nissan Leaf EV, and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

“The Department is in the process of transitioning all entitled users to either a PHEV or BEV model,” a spokesperson said.

“We are taking a phased approach to replacing vehicles in the Crown fleet so we can continually improve the fleet’s EV/emissions profile and achieve our goal of a fully-electric Crown fleet by 2025/26.”

The figures come as the Government launches its latest push to encourage uptake of EVs by the general public, part of plans to dramatically reduce still-rising greenhouse gas emissions and meet targets and commitments in line with advice from the Climate Change Commission.

Under a feebate scheme announced on Sunday, drivers who buy new cars from July 1 will be able to get taxpayer-funded rebates of almost $8700 for a new electric or plug-in hybrid car, and about $3500 for used cars.

These would be funded by fees based on emissions levels applied to new petrol cars up to $5875 and up to $2875 for imported used cars.

There will be no exemption for government agencies under the feebates scheme. They will also be able to claim rebates.

As of May 7 this year, there were 191 battery electric vehicles and 90 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in the entire government fleet of just under 15,000, making up 1.9 per cent.

There are about another 2000 fuel hybrid vehicles, however these are not classed as electric under the Clean Car Programme.

There are about 27,000 electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in the entire country, making up less than 1 per cent of the more than 4 million vehicles.

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