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Electric vehicle imports into NZ climbing


Te Whanganui-a-Tara – Imports of fully electric vehicles more than doubled in value during the 12 months to March 2023, amid a series high for vehicle imports, according to data released by Stats NZ today.

The total value of passenger motor vehicles imported in the 12 months to March 2023 was $6.8 billion, an increase of 13 percent on the previous year. This represents the largest value of vehicles purchased within any 12 months to March.

Rises in imports were seen across vehicles of all reduced-emission propulsion methods, with electric vehicle imports having the highest increase of 127 percent, to $1.23 billion.

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and the less common plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) increased 79 percent (to $1.12 billion) and 123 percent (to $176 million), respectively.

The combination of all passenger internal combustion vehicles increased 1.7 percent, to $5.6 billion.

While traditional internal combustion vehicles are still the most popular choice overall, we are seeing a clear shift towards electric power among New Zealanders when selecting their next passenger car.

Since mid-2020, imports of reduced-emission passenger vehicles (HEVs, PHEVs, and fully electric, combined) have grown from a share of 8.2 percent to 37 percent of the value of passenger vehicles imported in the 12 months to March 2023.

Similarly, the number of these reduced-emission vehicles imported has increased from a share of 7.3 percent to 37 percent.

Electric vehicle numbers have increased from 2.6 percent to 11 percent of passenger vehicle imports during the same time period.

The top five countries by share of electric vehicle imports in the 12 months to March 2023, ranked by import values, were:

China, at 58 percent share of imports or $716 million

South Korea, at 16 percent, with $195 million

European Union at 13 percent, with $161 million

Japan, at 8.4 percent, with $104 million.

As electric vehicle imports increase, we are seeing a diversification of supply as more and more manufacturers release fully electric models.

Despite Japan accounting for 8.4 percent of the import value for electric vehicles, it provides 21 percent of the total number of electric vehicles. This represents a larger second-hand car market from Japan, accounting for 96 percent of total used electric vehicle imports during the 12 months to March 2023.

Electric micro-transport imports (e-bikes, e-mopeds, and e-scooters) have steadily increased since 2018, reaching $184 million in the 12 months to March 2023, and overtaking the value of mechanical bicycles in 2021.

Despite this, the number of mechanical bicycles imported remains significantly higher, with 218,500 bicycles imported during the 12 months to March 2023 compared with 94,811 electric micro-transport devices.