Tesla owners’ rebates piss off NZ official: “This is a reverse Robin Hood scheme”

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Vehicles like the Teslas have become popular in New Zealand, with the Model Y becoming one of the country’s best-selling vehicles in August and September. And with more electric cars on the road, more EV owners have received rebates for their vehicle purchases. This appears to have annoyed some officials.

As noted in local reports, the New Zealand government has paid out over NZD 30 million (over USD17 million) to Tesla owners. It’s not just Tesla owners either, as even buyers of more affordable EVs like the Nissan Leaf have also received substantial incentives.

But while more Leaf drivers have received subsidies than Model 3 owners, Newshub NZ noted in a recent report that Tesla drivers received notably more rebates than their Nissan-driving counterparts. About NZD 16 million (USD9.1 million) has gone to Nissan Leaf owners, while NZD 33 million (USD18.7 million) has gone to Tesla drivers.

New Zealand’s clean car discount is intended to be a revenue-neutral system, with subsidies being paid for by a tax on vehicles with high emissions, such as diesel-powered pickup trucks. Since April, however, only NZD62.8 million (USD35.7 million) has reportedly been collected from owners of high-emissions vehicles, but over NZD95 million (USD54 million) has been paid out in subsidies.

This is a reverse Robin Hood scheme. It takes money from farmers and tradies through the ute tax and gives it to people who can already afford to buy Tesla’s.

— Simeon Brown (@SimeonBrownMP) October 24, 2022

Simeon Brown, National Party MP for Pakuranga and Spokesperson for Transport and Public Service, has spoken out against the trend, noting that the system has become a “reverse Robin Hood” scheme of sorts. According to Brown, the current system results in rebates going to people “who can already afford to buy Teslas.”

“This is a reverse Robin Hood scheme. It’s taking from people who don’t have a choice about what kind of vehicles they drive like farmers and tradies, and it’s giving it to people who can afford to buy the expensive luxury vehicles like a Tesla,” Brown said.

Transport Minister Michael Wood, however, has noted that the program is a success. “The biggest number of vehicles that we have supported through the clean car discount scheme have actually been relatively affordable hybrid vehicles. What the clean car discount has done over the last year has increased our intake of zero-emissions vehicles to one of the highest rates in the world. The scheme is an outstanding success,” Wood said.

Amidst the criticism of the program, Newshub NZ noted in its report that some changes to the scheme may be coming soon, with the government rebalancing the system so that its fees match the subsidies.

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