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New Zealand’s electric vehicle opportunities

The New Zealand Government recently announced cash incentives for all retail purchases of full electric or hybrid vehicles registered in the private automobile classes. These rebates are paid on all vehicles under a recommended retail price (RRP) of NZ$80,000 (US$56,000) and range from NZ$3,450 for used vehicle purchases to NZ$8,625 for all new vehicles.

With a new passenger vehicle market averaging almost 100,000 units per year, the goal for the New Zealand Government is to have 35% of the new vehicle registrations be electric vehicles (EVs) by 2035.  Currently EVs account for only slightly over 3% and are not expected to be over 4% by the end of 2021. Of the approximate 4,000 EV registrations, U.S. manufacturer Tesla is the market leader, with an almost 40% EV market share.  Tesla’s RRP is above the NZ$80,000 RRP rebate threshold and with other premium EV brands representing approximately 11% of the market, this means that brands that qualify for the government incentive only represent less than 50% of the EV market.

Of the total annual registrations of almost 100,000 vehicles, the clear leader is Ford Motor Company with the Ford Ranger pickup truck (referred to as UTEs in New Zealand). In fact, UTEs represented by Ford, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Mazda and Isuzu make up five of the top 15 registrations and about 23% of the total registrations.

With the introduction of the EV incentive the New Zealand Government also announced a “UTE tax” of over NZ$8,000 on every new UTE sale and stated this was to encourage and fund the EV incentive scheme. UTE’s represent a high proportion of sales to the tradesman market and this huge sector currently has no option for an EV powered alternative.

New Zealand, being a duty-free import market for new passenger vehicles, has no local manufacturing plants and relies on global model platforms for its market model offerings.  With less than 100,000 registrations shared among over 50 manufacturers, this means viability of specific country model development is nonexistent due to viability issues on specific product development.

Pickup trucks are forecast to dominate the industry and therefore market entry of EV pickup trucks is a definite opportunity and a relatively easy market entry with little local compliance regulation. In most instances, local compliance is being met in the country of origin with a self-certification process in place by the local importer.

Other opportunities identified by the U.S. Commercial Service in New Zealand include smaller EV passenger car development that can result in market entry below the NZ$80,000 EV rebate price threshold.  Charging infrastructure technology is another potential opportunity for U.S. technology to enter the New Zealand market pending further investigation.

New Zealand is a right-hand drive market.

Specific market statistics are available from The New Zealand Motor Industry Association.

For more information on market opportunities in New Zealand, please contact the Commercial Service in Auckland:  Email: