PHEV road user charges reduced

The thousands who use them have welcomed the Government’s about-turn on road user charges (RUCs) for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

In March, after rigorous complaints about the rates, Transport Minister Simeon Brown announced a reduced road user charge of $38 per 1000km, which is half the full RUC rate. Pending regulations had proposed that this rate be $53 per 1000km, or two-thirds the full RUC rate of $76 per 1000km, but analysis showed that this would result in PHEV owners paying more in RUCs (including petrol tax) than comparable hybrid vehicles.

Motor Industry Association (MIA) Chief Executive Officer Aimee Wiley says based on average fuel consumption of new petrol hybrid vehicles sold in the last two years, MIA analysis showed that at the initial proposed RUC rate, a PHEV would pay 70% more than an equivalent hybrid petrol vehicle, and a full battery electric vehicle (BEV) would pay 95% more. “This would unfairly disadvantage owners of PHEVs, whose battery range can vary according to model and age, and potentially discourage the uptake of these low-emissions vehicles and undermine progress to reduce transport emissions,” she says.

The MIA recommended instead that the RUC rate for both PHEVs and BEVs be benchmarked to the average contribution of equivalent petrol-engine vehicles and not the full RUC rate. Wider industry jointly supported the requested reduction in RUC rates as a more equitable interim solution until RUC is universally applied to all light vehicles in New Zealand. “While the MIA is pleased with the lower RUC rate for PHEVs, we are disappointed that a fairer rate has not been introduced for BEVs also, as the higher rate will likely discourage some buyers. BEV and PHEV uptake can play a critical role in achieving our climate targets; reducing the health impacts on New Zealand from air pollution; and contributing to a more productive economy built on domestic renewable energy, which will ultimately bring down household energy costs.”

RUCs for pure electric vehicles continue unchanged, at $76 per 1000km.

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