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Simon Bridges says electric vehicle uptake is too slow

Ben Strang of rnz.co.nz

The National Party is criticising the Government's uptake of electric vehicles into its fleet, saying it's taking too long.

Fuel taxes contribute much to the National Land Transport Fund.Fuel taxes contribute much to the National Land Transport Fund. 

But the Government has hit back, saying it is progressing faster than National did in its nine years of running the country.

The leader of the opposition, Simon Bridges, said the Labour-led coalition is a "do as we say, not as we do" government.

That is because it has added just 135 electric vehicles to its fleet since taking office.

"The reality of this government is they've done next to nothing on electric vehicles, even though they want to tax New Zealanders more," Mr Bridges said.

"When I was Transport Minister, we saw electric vehicle numbers rise exponentially, but that was through a positive plan with many initiatives, not taxing the living daylights out of everyday New Zealanders.

Mr Bridges is critical of the government's plans to impose a levy on cars with high emissions, while subsidising the costs of clean vehicles.

The Economic Development Minister, Phil Twyford, said that from October new vehicles bought by government agencies must emit 20 percent less pollutants than its current fleet average.

He said the coalition's efforts are a vast improvement on the previous government.

"They only achieved 224 electric vehicles in nine years," Mr Twyford said.

"We've achieved 135 only in the last 18 months, and our policy hasn't even kicked in yet."

Mr Twyford said National's Climate Change spokesperson, Todd Muller, has given his broad support for the government's policy, even if Simon Bridges hasn't.

"Unlike the opposition, we're serious about tackling climate change," he said.

"We're currently proposing modest, practical policies that will result in a wide variety of cleaner cars, utes and vans being available and affordable for average Kiwi families and businesses.

"We're talking about discounts of up to $8,000 for EVs and this will make them more affordable for more people.

"Even Todd Muller supports the policy and thinks the last government should have done more."

Yokohama, Japan - April 24, 2014: Electric cars, Nissan's "Leaf", are being charged at the charging stations in front of the entrance of Nissan's global Headquarters located in Yokohama, Japan.
Electric-cars charging. Source: istock.com