Wellington Scoop

Mayor welcomes government plan to encourage more electric vehicles

News from WCC
Wellington Mayor Justin Lester is backing the Government’s proposals to help improve the efficiency of the country’s car fleet.

The proposed Clean Car Standard will require importers to progressively bring in more fuel-efficient and electric vehicles and a Clean Car Discount scheme will offer rebates for new and used fuel-efficient and electric vehicles.

Both are aimed at improving the efficiency of light vehicles being imported into New Zealand.

“I applaud the Government for this initiative,” the Mayor says. “Every other OECD country has fuel efficiency standards except New Zealand, Russia and Australia. It has been very effective at driving down emissions and ensuring a wider range of low emission vehicles is sold.

“New Zealand’s car fleet is much older than it should be and we have too many chugging around our cities.”

The Wellington City Council has just adopted Te Atakura – First to Zero, which aims to make Wellington a zero carbon city by 2050.

“Te Atakura identifies a zero-emissions transport fleet as one of the seven big moves we have to make.

“Transport accounts for 58 percent of the city’s emissions and if we don’t get a younger and cleaner car fleet we will never reach that goal. Given New Zealand’s renewable energy assets, electrifying the fleet makes sense. And we can support a growing electric fleet as we are rolling out more EV charging stations in the CBD and suburbs.”


  1. Alan, 9. July 2019, 11:10

    Meanwhile Wellington’s buses continue to be predominantly diesel powered thanks to the Regional Council.

  2. Roy Kutel, 10. July 2019, 8:47

    Yes and Lester and his councillors sat on their hands when Wellington’s 100% electric trolley buses were axed and he now wants to fly to China to assess a replacement battery electric bus. What a farce paid for by gullible ratepayers!

  3. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 10. July 2019, 13:13

    Roy, that’s not completely true. Cr Sarah Free and I gave this our best shot. We met with NZ Bus’s CEO, senior GWRC officers and the Cheir & CE of Wellington Cable Car (which owned the trolley bus power supply infrastructure) shortly after the 2016 elections (when I was elected to WCC). We explored every avenue, including trying to get some “traction” on my proposal that all the remaining trolley buses should be allocated to the new route 2 (Seatoun- Karori) as a “signature sustainable route.” (This route has low tunnels so is not suitable for double deckers.) Unfortunately we were unsuccessful as the planning for the removal of the electric buses and power supply had advanced too far by that time. We were also assured by the CEO of NZ Bus that the trolley buses would be repowered with Wrightspeed motors “powerful enough to take them up Baldwin Street.” (NZ’s steepest street, in Dunedin.) I have repeatedly asked GWRC whether the remaining trolleys can be repowered with batteries (as per the black one that’s been operating on trial on the Airport Express service) but it appears that GWRC has no power to direct NZ Bus to progress this conversion programme.

  4. Andy Foster, 10. July 2019, 19:23

    Roy – just to add to Chris’ comment above. As I have previously noted on Scoop pages when this issue has come up, several times I proposed to GWRC that they allow NZ Bus to price trolley buses (including the overhead/substation costs which could have been capitalised over time) alongside diesels. That could have been done on the Lyall Bay – Railway Station route and the number 2 Karori Park to Seatoun routes with the addition of a few hundred metres of overhead cabling in Miramar.
    That would have given a clear picture of any cost difference between the two technologies and a decision could have been made on whether whatever the price difference was was worth paying to achieve cleaner public transport. Keeping the trolleys on any part of the system would have required significant capital investment and it would have meant a commitment for a good decade or more, allowing that capital cost to be spread over that period.
    However the Regional Council were absolutely adamant they would not do that. They were quite clear that trolleys were going. What was particularly galling about that was the significant upgrade money that had been spent by GWRC on keeping the overheads operational in the last 12 – 24 months of their operation.

  5. michael, 10. July 2019, 19:30

    Chris, how did the proposal to remove the trolley buses get so far down the track before the WCC become involved in the discussions?

  6. Local, 10. July 2019, 21:28

    Let’s be clear. The WCC was involved all along because it owns the Cable Car Company which owned the wires and electrical infrastructure. The WCC could have instructed through the Letter of Expectation that it expected the Cable Car Company to continue to supply the needed electrical infrastructure. City Councillors last triennium had every ability to do this and failed to do so. Andy I think you are being somewhat disingenuous here.

  7. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 10. July 2019, 22:30

    Hi Michael. I think Andy Foster has answered your question. He attempted to negotiate with GWRC in the 2013-16 triennium, and Sarah Free and I gave it a final shot in the current triennium.

  8. Roy Kutel, 11. July 2019, 7:09

    Chris and Andy > whatever both of you say you did was 100% ineffectual and we had a 100% electric transport system removed at a cost to ratepayers of $11 million. Light Rail to the airport will set up as back over $1.5billion and may require the re-instatement of overhead wires (there are other systems which are more expensive but less tried and tested). If you’d kept the trolley bus wires like Shanghai we could have gone for an improved trolley bus system with battery storage charged ‘on the go’. We could have had had a 100% electric system appropriate for the whole of Wellington City (not just one corridor) for $200million including higher capacity articulated buses.

    What WCC Councillors and officers didn’t do to keep our city’s asset of trolley bus wires was a dereliction of duty.

  9. Andy Foster, 11. July 2019, 9:56

    Local – absolutely we could have instructed the Cable Car Company to keep the wires in place but without anything to run on them what on earth would the point of that have been? It would have continued to cost money to keep the wires maintained and electrically safe even without anything running on them. GWRC also paid for the removal of the wires which they would not have done had we kept them.

    Roy – you are quite correct that we all (Wellington City Council) have not been able to persuade the Regional Council to keep the trolleys going at least on some routes, or at least to test their relative cost through the tendering process. But let’s all be very clear – the City Council does not and can not make the decision about public transport routes, timetables, fares, operators, the types of buses run etc. Those are all decisions made by the Regional Council. Our role is as road controlling authority – bus priority, bus shelters (thought GWRC does some including their hubs)

    GWRC is elected by you, just as much as WCC is. They are answerable to you, just as much as WCC is. If you really want to canvas these questions – then please go to the right entity. WCC doesn’t run the Universities, schools, police, health system etc either. We talk with them, often advocate on issues, often work in partnership with them, but at the end of the day we get to make decisions within our areas of responsibility, and they within theirs.

    Kind regards, Andy

  10. Roy Kutel, 11. July 2019, 11:41

    Andy so why is your illustrious leader off to China to see trackless trams at WCC ratepayers’ expense?
    Clearly one bunch of you – either GWRC or WCC – has to be abolished. I’d abolish GWRC and replace it with a PTA with clear targets and funding constraints asap, with city councillor representation (with limits as to their ability to interfere).
    We can’t continue with this ‘non-joined up Government’ with one bunch of Councillors blaming the other bunch whilst getting paid $60 to $150k a year and our bus and train services are going down the pan!

  11. Andy Foster, 11. July 2019, 17:01

    Hi Roy – Council has not approved any China trip to see trams.

  12. Roy Kutel, 11. July 2019, 17:34

    Hi Andy – Has Justin asked for his trip to China to be approved by the Council?

  13. Concerned Wellingtonian, 11. July 2019, 19:23

    Andy. Is permission needed? Is there usually a discussion of these trips at council meetings? [NZ Herald: China trip postponed.]

  14. BS, 11. July 2019, 20:39

    I wouldn’t have thought that the Council (ratepayers) could afford to send Justin to China after the city’s cost blowouts summarised in yesterdays DominionPost. It is a disgrace that Justin can even consider a trip. I will not be voting for him.

  15. Roy Kutel, 11. July 2019, 22:14

    I think we are paying for a return trip BS!

  16. Andy Foster, 11. July 2019, 23:05

    Hi Roy, Concerned Wellingtonian and BS

    Council delegations are covered in our governance statement https://wellington.govt.nz/~/media/your-council/structure-and-vision/files/local-governance-statement.pdf?la=en. These are reviewed every triennium.
    City Strategy Committee’s (mayor and all councillors are members) delegations include #35 ‘Approve the attendance and associated costs of elected members at overseas Conferences, Seminars, Training or Events or when representing Council as part of delegations or invitations.’ The Committee has made no decisions, nor been asked to make any.

    Under ‘Other’ delegations (generally those delegated to individual elected member roles) ‘The Mayor and Deputy Mayor and Chair of CSC are authorised to approve an elected member to travel overseas (whether for the purpose of training, representing the Council, international relations, attending conferences) – and the associated costs (if any) in urgent circumstances, when it is impracticable for the CSC to consider the item on an agenda prior to travel.’
    I don’t know if there has been any such decision, but I would expect we would have been informed, so I would be surprised if there had been. It is our convention that people travelling do not participate in decisions on their proposed travel.

    Kind regards, Andy