The Government's new proposed vehicle tax has been slammed as a "painful, regressive tax" which will "take from the poor, give to the rich" by the New Zealand Taxpayers' Union.
The Government today announced it wants to give discounts for electric, hybrid and fuel efficient vehicles and put a fee on high emitters sold in the country for the first time, in a bid to increase New Zealand's cleaner fleet.
Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter said the "cars, utes and vans we use every day are also the fastest growing source of harmful climate pollution and account for nearly 70 per cent of our transport emissions".
"This is about making cleaner cars a realistic choice for more New Zealanders, by reducing the upfront cost of electric, hybrid and fuel efficient vehicles when sold in New Zealand for the first time," she said.
But New Zealand Taxpayers' Union Executive Director Jordan Williams told 1 NEWS the proposed penalty on "gas guzzling" vehicles would hurt the poorest Kiwis.
"Let’s be very clear: this is a tax on Otara vehicles to subsidies Teslas in Remuera," he said.
He said the Government should instead invest in more charging stations to encourage people who can afford an electric-car to take that option.
"They're punishing people that don't have the option," he said, adding people like tradies relied on their work vehicles.
"You can't replace a Hilux with a leaf."
Mr Williams said only a few, largely high-income, motorists would benefit from the subsidy, while many more low income motorists will have to "choose between a nasty penalty or delaying the purchase of a new car", adding they may then miss out on improvements to safety and environmental standards.
"Just because something is shrouded in environmental branding doesn't make it any less nasty to the poor.
"Successive Governments have already whacked motorists hard with hikes to petrol tax. Now Julie-Anne Genter is mixing it up with scheme to take from the poor, give to the rich."
However, AA General Manager of Motoring Affairs Mike Noon told 1 NEWS he was on board with the Government's move to a cleaner fleet.
Transport makes up about 20 per cent of New Zealand's emissions, and 70 per cent of that is on light fleet, so it made sense to tackle the problem there, he said.
"What they want is for people to think about what emissions they're making."
When asked if it would hit poorer communities, Mr Noon said the scheme would be phased in, and if there was to be a disparity between rich and poor, it may need to be phased in slower; but he reiterated the Government needed to start somewhere.
The proposal is to be phased into 2021, with the Government already setting targets to lower emissions to 2025.
"There is a generation in New Zealand of being environmentally friendly," Mr Noon said. "We are pretty good here in New Zealand, with renewable energy. E-vehicles in New Zealand are a very good thing."
Right now many models are pricey, he admitted, but second hand options were coming up on the market.
"You're going to save money over a lifetime," he said, adding that as more brands come out the price would go down.
Mr Noon also said if people could afford to, it was beneficial to have an e-car as a run-about-town car, then a fuel vehicle for activities like holidaying, towing, loading up with kayaks and longer travel.