National News

National News is brought to you by a partnership between Crux and RNZ News 

eight col RNZD7965

Electric vehicle sales reach 'turning point'

Sales of new electric vehicles have hit a record and for the first time have broken in to the top three passenger models sold last month.

New motor industry figures show a total of 605 electric and plug-in hybrids vehicles were sold in September.

The numbers were boosted by the first significant numbers of the base model Tesla reaching the country, with 329 sales making it the third-best selling passenger-SUV segment.

MIA chief executive David Crawford. Photo: Supplied

Motor Industry Association chief executive David Crawford said consumer attitudes and behaviour appear to have reached a turning point.

"As the range of models increases there's more consumer interest in purchasing the electric vehicles ... these are longer range electric vehicles and that seems to be what consumers are interested in."

He said electric vehicles were expensive by comparison with most petrol or diesel models - the base price of a new Tesla is about $75,000 - but the cars were cheaper to run, becoming able to travel further between charges, and supported by a growing network of charging stations.

"Their environmental credentials are very strong and the increasing awareness of climate change and the need to lessen our carbon footprint, this is something practical that individuals can do and they (consumers) seem prepared to pay up front to do that," Mr Crawford said.

Mr Crawford expected sales to keep growing especially if the government goes ahead with its proposed fee-bate scheme.

Overall new car sales were up for the month on a year ago, but year to date sales are down about 4 pct with passenger and SUV sales higher but offset by a fall in commercial vehicle sales.