New Zealand’s National Party has proposed a new plan to introduce road user charges for all vehicles, including electric vehicles (EVs), if they win the next election. The party’s transport spokesman Simeon Brown said ensuring the sustainability of the National Land Transport Fund was critical as New Zealand moved towards an EV-dominated vehicle fleet. According to Brown, this new charging system is a better way to assess charges based on the number of kilometers driven, rather than the amount of fuel. Currently, only vehicles that are not taxed at the source, such as diesel or electric cars, are required to pay road use charges instead of petrol tax. There are about 63,000 registered electric cars on New Zealand’s roads, just 1% of the country’s total vehicle fleet. However, this exemption for electric vehicles will expire by the end of March next year as it has started affecting the revenue generated for road maintenance.
Under the proposed plan, EV owners would pay $76 for 1,000 km of driving, contributing to $2 billion collected from road-use fees paid by other drivers, primarily truckers and diesel car owners. According to Brown, it is unfair that drivers of petrol-powered vehicles currently pay different amounts of tax for road maintenance, regardless of the distance travelled.
The National Party aims to implement a user fee system for highway maintenance, and while the project will take time to implement, it is considered a priority. Brown also suggested exploring alternative revenue generation methods such as tolls and congestion charges. The government currently receives about $4 billion a year from fuel taxes and road user fees, with 70 cents per liter of gasoline to fund highways.
Apart from road user charges, if elected, the National Party plans to scrap the government’s clean car rebate and invest $257 million over four years to build 10,000 new charging stations for electric vehicles. The plan has been criticized by the Green Party, which sees the clean car rebate as a successful climate policy.
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