And they are about to pay road charges.

EVs (light electric vehicles) are increasingly becoming a popular choice for people in Hawke’s Bay with the number of registered EVs steadily rising in the last few years.

According to NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi, there are two main types of EVs:

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) – these are powered by a battery only.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) – these have two engines – one powered by a battery that is charged externally, the other is fuel powered and generally uses petrol or diesel.

Conventional forms of petrol hybrids aren’t considered EVs as they aren’t charged by ‘plugging in’. In these vehicles, the batteries are only charged by re-capturing energy when braking or from electricity generated by the engine.

In Hawke’s Bay the total number of EVs actively registered has grown from 753 (December 2021) to 2,026 (December 2023).

Broken down by Territorial Authority the total number of BEVs and PHEVs registered currently are:

Central Hawke’s Bay District: BEVs (Full Battery Electric) 75, PHEVs 51

Hastings District: BEVs 686, PHEVs 339 

Napier City: BEVs 568, PHEVs 275

Wairoa District: BEVs 17, PHEVs 15 

Unfortunately, the owners will have to dig deep in their pockets with the coalition Government confirming the exemption from road user charges (RUC) for owners of EVs will end from April 1.

Petrol tax and distance-based RUC were paid by road users to contribute to the costs of maintaining the roads, but EVs had been exempted from RUC.

“Transitioning EVs and plug-in hybrids to RUC is the first step in delivering on the National-ACT coalition commitment to bring all vehicles into the RUC system,” Transport Minister Simeon Brown said.

“This transition to RUC is about fairness and equity. It will ensure that all road users are contributing the upkeep and maintenance of our roads, irrespective of the type of vehicle they choose to drive.

“Plug-in hybrids are powered by electricity and petrol and have had to pay petrol tax, but not to the same level as petrol equivalent vehicles. To ensure that plug-in hybrids avoid paying twice through both fuel excise duty and RUCs, these vehicles will pay a reduced rate RUC.”

Owners of light EVs, including plug-in hybrids, will need to buy a RUC licence from April 1.

Owners of BEVs will pay $76 per 1000 kilometres, in line with equivalent diesel-powered vehicles.

Owners of plug-in hybrid vehicles will pay a reduced rate of $53 per 1000 kilometres so that they are not double taxed when paying Fuel Excise Duty. The partial rate of $53 per 1,000 kilometres assumes that on average, a plug-in hybrid will consume petrol at a rate of just under 3 litres per 100 kilometres. 

NZTA will be informing BEV and plug-in hybrid owners about the transition to RUCs and what it will mean for them. There will be a two-month transition period to allow time for people to get registered in the RUC system without being penalised for unpaid RUC. 

As part of this outreach, each BEV and plug-in hybrid owner will receive a letter prior to April 1 that will explain the RUC process. The first time an EV owner buys their RUC licence they need to give their odometer reading. 

Whenever a warrant of fitness is undertaken, a vehicle’s odometer will be reviewed. If the odometer exceeds the RUCs purchased by the vehicle’s owner, they will be invoiced for any difference. 

Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air


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  1. Reluctantly we are about to sell our EV bought before the subsidies. The lack of charging stations in Hastings (just one non-tesla fast charger) now means long waits when we travel from CHB. The addition of road user charges was the last straw. Once Luxon delivers the promised 10000 chargers we’ll reconsider.

  2. All about fairness!! And using the roads. The Road Registration is exactly the same for a Mini as it is for a Rolls Royce!
    Not every motorist can afford to buy, spend out mega $$$$$$$$s an EV! So why should they be penalised?

  3. It is difficult to see how EVs will make a significant contribution to climate change. Each 60 KWh battery requires 4.5 tons CO2 for its production. There is an additional infrastructure cost for charging stations and electricity distribution; now RUCs and a cost differential on the purchase price.
    A hybrid with a small 1 KWh battery can achieve 3L/100km and pay no RUC fee.
    As well as recovering braking energy the motor can be run as an Atkinson cycle motor with up to 40% thermal efficiency.

  4. Can’t believe all the negative misinformation regarding EVs on social media at present. So hard for people to know what is real and what is fake. Just remember there are big oil companies and lagging legacy car manufacturers who have very good reasons to amplify all anti EV sentiment!
    Don’t want to wait for too many more cyclones , droughts, heat waves etc to be convinced

  5. Road user charges are not anti anything. Just fair for anyone not paying fuel tax. A small light and fuel efficient diesel car pays, so why shouldn’t a heavy EV?

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