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NZ market does not 'lend itself as well' to electric vehicles – expert

Just 24,000 of the four million total cars on New Zealand roads are currently powered by electricity, 40,000 shy of the Government's end-of-year target.

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Motoring industry commentator Keith Bradsher believes NZ has a significant challenge ahead to increase electric vehicle uptake. Source: Q+A

Motoring industry commentator Keith Bradsher, told Q+A's Jack Tame costs are coming down and that will help, but he believes New Zealand has a “significant challenge" ahead of itself to increase electric vehicle uptake.

"New Zealand does not have especially high taxes for which it can then exempt electric cars” or the population density of a country like China, he said.

That nation produces 70-80 per cent of the battery chemicals, anodes, electric motors and key components, which has “really driven down” the cost of the vehicles there. He thinks electric vehicles will be as cheap to purchase as petrol versions in five to seven years' time and has found 

China’s extensive high-speed train network offers a viable alternative to driving, particularly over long distances.

Bradsher, who is also the New York Times' Shanghai bureau chief, questions what role the national electricity grid could play in New Zealand’s future.

"New Zealand could have the grid charge everybody a little more for their electricity and then use the money to install more charging stations," he said.

The Climate Change Commission has already called to stop the import of internal combustion light vehicles by 2032 in order to bring down carbon emissions.

Bradsher suspects Kiwi drivers will continue to prefer plug-in hybrids over fully electric vehicles because of their “somewhat greater flexibility,” due to the additional petrol engine.

“For longer range driving, particularly at high speed, people may want to keep the plug-in hybrids for a while,” he said.

Watch the full interview above.