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EVs, plug-in hybrids to pay road user charges from 1 April

Jan 16, 2024

Owners of light electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids will have to pay road user charges from 1 April, the government has announced.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown said the vehicles would no longer be exempt in the interests of "fairness and equity".

The change would ensure all vehicle owners contributed to the upkeep and maintenance of the country's roading network, irrespective of the kind of car they drove.

"Petrol tax and distance-based RUC [road user charges] are paid by road users to contribute to the costs of maintaining our roads, but EVs and plug-in hybrids have been exempted from RUC," he said.

"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."

Owners of plug-in hybrids that were powered by electricity and petrol have had to pay petrol tax, but not to the same level as petrol equivalent vehicles, Brown said.

"To ensure that plug-in hybrids avoid paying twice through both fuel excise duty and RUCs, these vehicles will pay a reduced rate RUC."

RNZ has reported the government expects problems ahead over introducing road user charges for EVs.

A May 2023 Waka Kotahi document released to RNZ under the Official Information Act forecast "an increase of non-compliance and debt for customers entering the RUC system".

"Current resources are set up to manage the existing RUC system," it said. "There will not be enough resource to cope with the increase in education, engagement and enforcement needed."

The government intends passing legislation to cover the reduced rate for plug-in hybrids before the start date.

The last National government had exempted EVs from paying road user charges to encourage their uptake, however, it was always intended the exemption would end when EVs hit around 2 percent of the light vehicle fleet and that point had been reached, Brown said.

"With the increasing uptake of EVs and plug-in hybrids being brought into the RUC system, this means that these vehicles will now be contributing towards the maintenance and upkeep of our roading system like all other road users and will support the government's priority of building and maintaining our roading network."

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

The New Zealand Transport Agency/Waka Kotahi will get in touch with EV and plug-in hybrid owners about the change and what it will mean for them.

The details:

  • Owners of light EVs will pay $76 per 1000km, in line with equivalent diesel-powered vehicles
  • Owners of plug-in hybrid vehicles will pay a reduced rate of $53 per 1000km so that they are not double taxed when paying fuel excise duty. The partial rate of $53 per 1000km assumes that on average, a plug-in hybrid will consume petrol at a rate of just under 3 litres per 100km
  • Every EV and plug-in hybrid owner will receive a letter before 1 April 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 carried out, 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

Main image (RNZ/123RF): The changes will ensure all motorists contribute to the upkeep of the country's roads, the government says.

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