New Zealand will become the “Cuba in the South Pacific” with submersible diesel engines

Climate change

Toyota Motor Corporation has asked the new Minister of Transportation to create financial incentives for electrified cars

The CEO of Toyota New Zealand has issued a robust call for a “soft blueprint” to make electric cars affordable for business and family budgets.

Niraj Lala warned that “if we do not exercise caution, New Zealand will become the Cuba of the South Pacific, a waste land for Europe with dirty diesel and cars running on high-carbon fuels.”

He said the goal of the Paris Agreement for New Zealand would not be achieved without incentives for electrified cars, and that a weak scheme would provide much-needed financial incentives at no cost to taxpayers. This will need to include both new and used imported vehicles


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The weak scheme, as proposed in the last parliament, would incentivize private buyers and fleet buyers for low-emission vehicles. It would add a tax on high-emissions vehicles and use that revenue to lower the price of low-emission vehicles that cost less than $ 80,000.

Transportation Secretary Michael Wood said he had a good discussion on this issue with Toyota. He said, “I am open to continuing the conversation and we are keeping our options open.” Transportation accounts for 20 percent of our emissions – we know we have to increase the uptake of electric and hybrid cars.

“That’s why we plan to build more shipping infrastructure across the country to give Kiwis the confidence to switch.”

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Lala took over the CEO position in July, as he said the company was moving from a traditional car maker, known for its cars, trucks and vans, to a mobility company focused on future technologies.

Today, he said the move by the UK to ban sales of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2030 was an encouragement for policymakers in New Zealand, and a dangerous sign that the country could be inundated by the internal combustion engine used vehicles at the end of this decade.

“Companies like Toyota would be willing to supply the public sector with low-emission vehicles, but not at cost – it should be mutually beneficial.”
– Niraj Lala

He said New Zealand needed to urgently work on the right policy settings to encourage increased intake of electrified vehicles through feasible financial incentives. “We also need to make sure that we do not end up importing large numbers of ICE passenger cars. Otherwise, there is no hope of achieving the 2050 net carbon target for the Paris Agreement.”

With the global supply of hybrid cars and electric batteries increasing due to global demand, he said New Zealand will find it difficult to access stock without a financial incentive. “Essentially, we need to raise our hybrid and EV numbers to get higher inventory allocations. The poor scheme should return to the table quickly.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced this week that New Zealand is in a state of climate emergency, and that public service will be carbon-neutral by 2025. But just a few days ago, police announced that they would replace petrol-powered Holden police cars and utes with new 2,000 Skodas that run on gasoline . They said the lifetime auto costs of electric cars were not yet competitive.

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Lala himself, upon assuming the position of CEO, revealed that he was driving the 2020 Toyota Supra – a two-seat sports coupe with a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder petrol engine.

Lala welcomed the leadership demonstrated by Ardern’s climate emergency declaration, but said the government needed to put financial resources behind its policy. “Companies like Toyota would be willing to supply the public sector with low-emission vehicles, but not at cost – it should be mutually beneficial.”

Lala added that with transportation emissions accounting for nearly 20 percent of total carbon production, auto companies have had a major impact on how New Zealand progresses towards a zero-carbon economy. “The transition to a low-emissions transportation market comes at a price, but the cost of not enabling greater low-emission vehicle capacity could cost Aotearoa / New Zealand and the planet much more.”

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