2024 is shaping up to be a challenging year for the car sales industry. Changes to regulatory tax incentives along with tricky economic conditions have put the brakes on certain segments like EVs, meaning the bumper sales rush at the end of 2023 is well and truly in the rear-view mirror.

Sales numbers for overall passenger vehicles averaged 9,203 per month for 2023. For the first quarter of 2024, monthly sales numbers for the same have averaged 8,450 units (an 8% decrease).

However, light commercial vehicles are still popular, tracking slightly ahead of 2023 and led by strong demand for the Ford Ranger and other utes.

Demand for hybrid vehicles is equally strong, suiting manufacturers such as Toyota, who offer a large range of vehicles with hybrid powertrain options. The RAV4 Hybrid has started off 2024 with an impressive 1,801 units sold.

However, Battery Electric and PHEV vehicle sales are stalling, with some models reaching only single digit sales numbers over the last three months. And with several new EV manufacturers setting up shop in New Zealand, along with existing brands planning to increase their EV model range, 2024 will be a test of nerves for some manufacturers.

Expect to see creative marketing campaigns along with strategic pricing promotions to attract elusive EV buyers back into dealer showrooms.

EV Spotlight

New Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) Sales (passenger cars only)
















Subdued is the best way to describe Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) sales for the first quarter of 2024, with a 76% decrease in vehicle registrations compared to the first quarter of 2023. The end of the Clean Car Discount (CCD) resulted in a surge of buying activity in December 2023 (3,359 BEV sales) which was the biggest month on record for EV sales. Many customers expedited their decision to purchase an EV while discounts of up to $8,625 were available.

If we consider BEV sales for the final quarter of 2023 there were a total of 7,968 units, or an average of 2,656 per month. In contrast, the 2024 first quarter monthly average is a mere 361 units.

Another factor restricting BEV sales is the introduction of Road User Charges. Owners of light EVs will pay $76 per 1,000 kilometres from April 1 (there will be a two-month transition period). PHEV owners will pay a reduced charge of $38 per 1,000 kilometres.

Given the current economic outlook, the added cost of RUCs may create another hurdle for potential buyers, who will need to weigh up the economics of an EV versus other Light Emitting Vehicle (LEV) options, such as hybrid or smaller engine cars.

There is also uncertainty around residual values for EVs. EV residual values are impacted by manufacturers applying large discounts, the volume of new entrant EVs and large rental fleets scaling back EV operations due to increased repair costs. While these factors are having a greater effect in larger markets such as the United States, media coverage impacts consumer psychology in smaller markets like New Zealand, too.

Some vehicle brands in New Zealand have offered discounts far greater than the original CCD in an attempt to stimulate sales and reduce inventory levels. For example, The VW ID4 BEV is currently being offered with a $15,000 manufacturer’s discount compared to the previous CCD incentive of $7,015. But in total, just 34 VW ID4s have been registered this year. The VW ID4 ranks thirteenth in best-selling EVs for the past twelve months within New Zealand.

The Tesla Model Y leads the way in sales for 2024 with 244 units sold, followed by the Tesla Model 3 (134 units) and MG4 (66 units sold).

When it comes to ranking New Zealand’s all-time favorite EVs, the Tesla Model Y sits at top of the table with 8,407 units (since its introduction in 2023). In second place is the Tesla Model 3 with 8,343 sales, and third is the BYD Atto 3 with 4,904 (also since its introduction in 2023).

At the end of March 2024, there were 74,300 pure EV light vehicles registered in New Zealand, along with an additional 31,600 PHEVs.

One initiative proposed by the Green Party that would undoubtably help EV sales regain momentum is the FBT Exclusion Amendment Bill. This proposes that businesses could gain a five-year exclusion from paying Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT) on any EV purchased, bringing EVs in line with current exclusions for work-related vehicles like utes and vans.

The bill would also account for an existing anomaly that allows double cab utes to continue with the current FBT exclusion. The Green Party wants these vehicles to be treated as a car for the purposes of FBT, meaning, if the bill is passed, businesses will start paying FBT on utes with more than two doors.

Last year, the Ford Ranger was the most popular selling overall vehicle with 9,907 units registered. Many of these Rangers were purchase were for business purposes and claimed a FBT exclusion.


EV Sales and Market Share from May 2021-Current