The New Zealand Government will exempt light electric vehicles from paying road user charges for four years from October 2009.

This initiative is expected to encourage the uptake of the electric vehicles to meet environmental obligations.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce said that the government continues to see private vehicles as the most significant means of transport in New Zealand.

“it is important that we encourage the use of alternative fuel technologies in order to help meet our environmental obligations over time,” Joyce said.

“This technology can make a significant contribution to improving the efficiency of our vehicle fleet. Electric cars can also decrease our reliance on imported fossil fuels and improve our energy security.”

The RUC exemption will come to effect on 1 October 2009 and will apply until 2013, at which point the government will reassess the initiative.

At present light electric vehicles are classed as diesel vehicles for the purpose of road-user charges.