The Transport Ministry predicts that without government intervention or incentives only 40 per cent of vehicles coming into the country would be electric in just over 10 years' time.
The government also said it plans to set annual emissions targets for new vehicles, which would be phased in gradually, with an aim of reaching a target of 105g CO2/km in 2025. So who pays? Well if you're a baddie and buy the new gas-guzzler that emits a higher level of Carbon dioxide then you'll pay a fee of up to three grand.
Motor Industry Association chief executive David Crawford says a clean auto standard - which would require dealers to lower the average emissions of cars they bring into the country - implies that distributors have more influence on consumers' choice of vehicle and the type of cars being made than is the case.
New auto importers have welcomed government measures to reduce emissions from the transport fleet, but warn one of the initiatives - a proposed clean vehicle standard - may not be as effective as hoped.
New Zealand's government wants to make imported electric and hybrid vehicles cheaper by up to 8,000 NZ dollars from 2021 onwards through discounts. That compares to nearly 15,000 electric vehicles in New Zealand.More news: Bank of Canada head expected to hold interest rates steady
"The proposal to make electric and hybrid vehicles more affordable is a good move, especially alongside the Government's commitment to boost rail and public transport", she says. Efficient used imports get roughly half the discount.
She said those who did buy imports would likely still be better off.
"In France, for example, the top penalty is more than three times greater than what the New Zealand Government is proposing". The first two would be hit with a more than $2000 fee.
New Zealand is one of just three developed countries without fuel efficiency standards - along with Australia and Russian Federation - and New Zealand's imports are among the dirtiest in the world, producing heavy emissions and costing a lot to run.
"New Zealanders have also told us they want more climate-friendly vehicles to choose from, so we're also proposing that vehicle suppliers be required to import more fuel-efficient vehicles every year".More news: Borderlands 3 Has an Apex Legends-Style Ping System
Those tailpipe emissions will be determined by the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure, which is supposed to provide a more realistic assessment of the cars while also being harder to cheat. The ministry says the 105 gram target is not as strict as those set for Europe or Canada, or now applying in Japan. It is not as stringent as standards in Canada and the European Union.
"These changes would prevent more than 5 million tonnes of unsafe climate pollution going into our atmosphere and would make a major contribution to meeting New Zealand's climate targets".
"I think everyone knows we need to do something about climate change, so the question is 'is it fair?' and I think that it's fair that those who are buying those vehicles that contribute the most pay a little extra, they still have a little flexibility to get the auto they want but they also contribute to helping other cars on the road to reduce their risky auto emissions".
In a statement, the Motor Industry Association endorsed the "feebate" scheme, saying it sent a "very clear signal" to consumers. Cars like Hyundai's Loniq battery electric vehicle (BEV) are poised to become more common.More news: Gatwick Airport suffers complete failure of air traffic control