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Why isn’t govt hitting utes much harder?

Written By: - Date published: 7:52 am, July 26th, 2021 - 51 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, tax, transport - Tags:

Aotearoa has been super sizing its vehicle fleet for over a decade and given Jacinda Ardern claim that Climate Change as her generation’s nuclear-free moment, why is her government not smacking ute owners and other gas guzzlers much harder than just the feebate?

Transport creates about 47 percent of Aotearoa’s carbon emissions, and from 1990 to 2018, domestic transport emissions increased by 90 percent, according to the Climate Change Commission Report. Fuelled by tax advantages and lax regulation, much of that increase is due to the increase in the size of vehicles in Aotearoa.

Some 80 percent of new vehicle registrations are double-cab utes or SUVs and the increase in the sheer size of vehicles in our fleet has more than wiped out efficiency gains from better technology.

This month’s national farmer “howl of protest” against the “ute tax” began just as a deluge struck, inundating large swathes of the country with a “once-in-50-years” flood.

Farmers and those involved in the protests seem incapable of joining the dots. Instead of acknowledging the obvious link to climate change, organisers proudly presented pictures of a ute towing a small sedan from a flood.

“Is this a legitimate use of a ute?” their caption asked.

Marc Daalder of Newsroom in an article titled “Feebate won’t bankrupt farmers but climate change might ” noted that over half a metre of rain fell in parts of country between last Thursday and Friday with meteorologists attributing some of the intensity to climate change.

“This weather event was certainly worse due to climate change,” said Nathanael Melia, senior research fellow at Victoria University of Wellington’s Climate Change Research Institute.

Luke Harrington of the Climate Change Research Institute co-authored a paper on the economic costs of climate change induced extreme weather events that found virtually all of 12 major rainfall events between 2007 and 2017 were at least partially attributable to climate change.

While the feebate will help screw the scrum away from large vehicles, by adding around $3000 to the cost of Aotearoa’s most popular vehicle, a $60,000 Ford Ranger ute, it is far from enough to reverse the trend, according to Professor of Environmental Sociology, Dr Kirsty Wild.

“We can’t just rely on that (the feebate). We have to think about how we can discourage people from driving large vehicles in built-up areas,” the University of Auckland professor said in an interview on Kathryn Ryan’s Nine-to-noon show on RNZ.

Wild blames weak regulation and car company marketing for the vehicle upsizing trend. Exhibit A is the tax treatment of double-cab utes, the second most popular category of vehicles in this country after SUVs. Until 1991, company cars with more than one row of seats attracted Fringe Benefit Tax, seriously discouraging companies from providing such vehicles.

But in in 1991 a court decided that if a vehicle was designed for dual purposes, neither could be the “principal” purpose and as double-cab utes do not have a principal purpose of carrying passengers, they qualified as work-related vehicles under the Income Tax Act 2007.

IRD seemed to strengthen this ruling in its 2017 guidance which concluded that double-cab utes satisfy the requirements of the definition of a “work-related vehicle” because they were designed equally for carrying people and for carrying goods. However, the IRD document adds a rider saying: “Qualifying as a work-related vehicle does not mean, however, that FBT is never payable when a double-cab ute is available for private use.”

The stipulation that FBT be paid even on double-cab utes when they are used for private purposes has been more ignored than complied with. Tax expert Terry Baucher a couple of years back greeted then IRD Minister Stuart Nash to a tax conference, saying: “Welcome to the South Island, where we don’t pay FBT on company vehicles.”

In response to an OIA request in February, IRD said its policy team is looking at various aspects of the FBT rules as part of its Environmental Taxes workstream of its Tax Policy Work Programme, “to ensure that the rules do not encourage more environmentally damaging outcomes. The treatment of double-cab utes is being considered in that context.”

IRD refused requests to release communication between the minister and department on the subject on the grounds that the payment of FBT is “under active consideration”. That refusal was repeated this month.

Inland Revenue Minister David Parker hasn’t actually done anything in the six months since my first request although he has made noises hinting he may one day finally do something. He told NZ Herald that his advice from IRD was that double-cab ute owners weren’t exempt from paying FBT, despite popular belief to the contrary. Parker claimed existing rules weren’t being enforced.

“The advice I have is there isn’t actually an exemption for double-cab utes, the question is whether the existing rules are being properly enforced,” he told NZ Herald.

Something seems likely to happen here, but why, when the Ardern government’s rhetoric is so forceful, is their action so feeble, when a simple law change would do the trick? And why is IRD sitting on its hands, if existing rules are not being enforced?

Prof Wild says the FBT exemption is important because it makes double-cab utes relatively cheap. Equally importantly, she says, we lack the kind of emission standards Europe has in place. Lax regulations for “work” vehicles like double-cab utes also apply in the US so car makers circumvent emissions standards, making these vehicles far cheaper to produce and therefore more profitable.

Today, Ford, for example, spends 85 percent of its massive marketing budget on SUVs and pick-ups (utes) and the link between marketing, profit and sales is strong.

In Aotearoa, ironically, marketing memes focus on being close to nature. “There are lots of images of vehicles being driven through the countryside – you can escape the city, you can be in nature,” Dr Wild says. That is also coupled with toxic images of such vehicles allowing dominance – of the vehicle being a beast, or raptor. As the boss you can ram your way through both the countryside and the city and to hell with other lesser road users.

Meanwhile, SUVs are marketed more on the basis of style and envy, but also fear. SUVs sit higher so their headlights blind others and if there is a collision, the SUV rides over the sedan, penetrating the cab.

“You are literally killed by these giant cars,” says Dr Wild.

They are almost twice as likely to kill pedestrians, even in slow speed Zones, and, in the US, they are mainly responsible for, in recent years, reversing a long-term reduction in pedestrian deaths.

Dr Wild said farmers and their utes are only part of the problem. “The biggest issue is in the cities. We don’t want people in giant vehicles to be driving to the dairy.”

Had Aotearoa maintained a trend towards smaller cars that was happening around the turn of the century, when the Toyota Corolla was the best seller, rather that today’s monster Ford Ranger, efficiency gains would mean our overall transport emissions would have been down rather than almost double the 1990 level, she says.

As well as scrapping the FBT exemption on utes and introducing the feebate, policy solutions should include robust fuel efficiency standards, introducing low emission zones, not registering cars that fail to fit normal parking places and discouraging driving in general, says Dr Wild.

Greenpeace also reckons the government should, at least until there is sufficient uptake, switch the FBT exemption on utes to EVs (electric vehicles).

“If we all work together, we can discourage this size creep. We can all send a message that we want our vehicle size to be heading in the other direction again, as it did in the ‘70s and ‘80s,” Dr Wild says.

(Simon Louisson reported for The Wall Street Journal, AP Dow Jones Newswires, New Zealand Press Association and Reuters and briefly was a political and media adviser to the Green Party. )


51 comments on “Why isn’t govt hitting utes much harder? ”

  1. RosieLee 1

    I don't have a problem with farmers and tradies using utes for work, and being able to do all the usual business writeoffs etc. But we should be taxing the shit out of city dwellers who have these utes and huge "recreational" vehicles for no good reason. They are absolutely unnecessary in town and create dangers for pedestrians and other drivers. Have you ever tried to back out of your parking space when there's one on either side? Not to mention the congestion around school zones morning and afternoon.

    • lprent 1.1

      Or try to do a left turn out of a street in a normal vehicle when there is one doing a right turn next to you.

      The SUV's are a pain, but something like a Ford Ranger gives you absolutely no visibility. I probably get more than usual because I live on small side street off Newton Road in Auckland that has John Andrew Ford. We have a continual stream of urban dipshits driving them on narrow streets taking them to and from frequent servicing. Few of them appear to be work vehicles.

      • Sacha 1.1.1

        Yes, that visibility blocking annoys the crap out of me. Wonder if it has created more crashes at intersections?

    • Chris 1.2

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/motoring/300353923/fewer-than-10-per-cent-of-utes-registered-as-work-vehicles

      If you take utes off the list of things farmers are complaining about there's very little left, apart from the general vibe farmers and others feel with a Labour government.

  2. Ad 2

    Around 170,000 people are involved in New Zealand construction. Those in construction-related trades push that even higher. As a % share of employment across New Zealand, that is growing every year.

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/975706/new-zealand-employee-count-in-the-construction-industry/

    Nearly every one of those people consider it a matter of pride if their business invests in them enough to get them their own ute. Not all, but most.

    Before this government puts out yet another policy in its long list of stuff it doesn't have the power to execute, maybe it should sort out its own electricity industry which is now having to import thousands of tonnes of brown coal per week from Indonesia just to keep the lights on.

    • Andre 2.1

      Before this government

      That there are apparently tax benefits to double-cab utes is a problem.

      That we are importing brown coal and burning it, even with our abundance of untapped renewable energy resource, is also a problem.

      The government should be tackling them both at the same time. Along with the myriad other transport and energy snafus we've currently got going on.

      • Ad 2.1.1

        At a certain point throwing more policy at New Zealand just doesn't work.

        It will already take years to decarbonise any fleet. Have they ever tried to bulk purchase anything on behalf of New Zealanders? Answer: of course – Pharmac do it every day of the week. So why don't they give NZTA a useful job to do here.

        They are about to roll out their RMA reforms on top of their catchment reforms, on top of their water governance reforms. Highly likely to tank.

        Same for electricity; multiple reviews, multiple crises papered over, stuff-all delivered on ground, let alone anything that would assist a consumer. Highly likely to achieve nothing.

        Same for nearly all of their major policy fields that have anything to do with climate change.

        Need I add that their major policy rollout for the entire term – vaccinations – isn't convincing anyone. And that's the one with the fate of the country riding on it.

        Government needs to show that it's effective, not that it has ideas.

        • Cricklewood 2.1.1.1

          Sums it up nicely… lots of ideas, some regulation or policy to make it look like you're doing something…

          Nero and Rome spring to mind.

        • Craig Hall 2.1.1.2

          Something Must Be Done, and This is Something.

        • greywarshark 2.1.1.3

          edit

          New ideas Ad. Bulk purchase. That would be an innovation and they leave these to business now, and then have lovely meetings sitting round big polished tables and feeling as if our tiny country is really ‘up with the play'. Do we ever see anything else when shown pictures of decision makers at work. One does not see tea stains, teatowels mopping up spills, piles of paper in In and Out trays, just heads looking at screens now, sitting on polished surfaces, completely clear of clutter (or CCC the well-thought-of business person's mantra. Like their minds.) Think of the boardroom (bored-room) scene in Python's The Crimson Assurance.

          There seems a lack of drama, involvement, with tech to the fore – a separation of minds, sitting with each other but concentrating on screens. I blame that situation for the increase in pornography! What a temptation when the circular arguments go on and one knows that one's opinions will be noted, but the decision to keep stalling has already been made, so no finality will be reached.

      • WeTheBleeple 2.1.2

        Just reading a Fonterra sustainability report and they crow about installing sustainable power sources at overseas sites to offset carbon emissions here. This is a critical component of their 'carbon zero milk' pipeline.

        Clearly, they'd do themselves better PR if they addressed this elephant (brown coal) burning in their lounge.

    • RedLogix 2.2

      maybe it should sort out its own electricity industry which is now having to import thousands of tonnes of brown coal per week from Indonesia just to keep the lights on.

      In the meantime Indonesia is busy working on ways to wean itself off needing to use this same brown coal. I'm not expecting anyone to watch this, it's quite dry and technical, but it's proof of progress. And stands in stark contrast to NZ which has nothing to replace it's dependence on coal or gas for dispatchable base load.

    • tc 2.3

      agreed Ad. Gotta be effective or you hand the opposition a mallet.

      Practice not policy. Talk about how it could be shaped AS you do it, don't faff about and crack on with it. The old forgiveness V permission.

      Do they have the mettle remaining after the ABC brigade drove many out ? Megan Woods has had Energy over 3 years now….not feeling it tbh.

  3. Tiger Mountain 3

    “Double Cab man” is certainly a bit of a kiwi subculture–immaculate urban and provincial town Utes replete with air intake snorkels! (meant for stream and bog crossing), and some signwriting or a “wrap” to pass them off as company vehicles.

    I have been a petrol head with my old Ford V8s from the 50s/60s/70s, Custom 300s, Galaxies, Fairlanes and a ’59 2dr Ranchwagon even, with Y Block and FE big blocks up to 390 ci. These types of vehicles are occasional Sunday drivers only now and I have no problem with a few diehards keeping them to make life interesting–and paying any appropriate levies and charges.

    And why get too excited about Utes? The big manufacturers are all working on or releasing giant EV trucks and Utes. Technology changes and the tractor/ute whingers of last week will be driving one soon enough–hopefully only if they really need one–and if Govt makes them financially attractive enough.

    • alwyn 3.1

      "replete with air intake snorkels! (meant for stream and bog crossing)"

      They aren't meant for that purpose. They are for use in outback conditions, or at least on unsealed roads, to get the air intake up above the dust produced when driving on those surfaces. They are of course totally useless when the vehicle is being driven on a sealed surface such as bitumen or concrete but the purpose isn't to help you drive in deep water.

      • Andre 3.1.1

        Depends where you are. I've once had to take a 200km detour to go across a bridge, whereas the couple we were travelling with were able to just drive across the bonnet-depth river in their snorkel equipped Landie.

        (not actually me or the actual place, but similar)

  4. pat 4

    "why is her government not smacking ute owners and other gas guzzlers much harder than the just the feebate?"

    'Ute' is a catch all for inefficient transport…..to effectively reduce FF use a sinking lid on its import/extraction would need to be implemented….but des gilets jaunes

  5. bwaghorn 5

    Completely missed why farmers dont like the ute tax!! Its because there is no other option.

    • Graeme 5.1

      Toyota's behaviour with this has been bizarre to say the least. Last April TNZ chief executive Neeraj Lala said “We hope to have Hilux hybrid enter the market before the end of next year”.

      The Government introduces the feebate scheme to incentivise the purchase of said hybrid ute and Toyota turns around and throws a hissy because they aren't going to have a BEV ute for some time and fudge about the hybrid one.

      If Toyota, or another manufacturer, hit the market with a hybrid before the feebate comes in jan 2022 then there will be an alternative that either doesn't attract the 'ute tax' or gets a partial rebate. I'd pick that once hybrid utes hit the market they will have a similar effect to the work fleet that Prius and Camry hybrids have had to the taxi fleet. LandRover have fleet spec hybrid Defender in the UK market at £34,000 which would work for me fencing or a as a service truck, but not for a farm truck. From the look of the number of Rivians tooling around Central for testing this winter they aren't far away. Cool truck btw, and rumours that some are rhd, but the ones I've seen have been lhd.

      Probably what we'll see is an exemption rolled out closer to the time for those who genuinely don't have an alternative if the motor industry doesn't bring things to market.

      • Andre 5.1.1

        Navaras are listed as only having to pay an $800ish emissions fee. The 2.0 twin-turbo Ranger engine is also often mentioned as only being liable for $800ish. Not gonna break the bank on a vehicle that's over $40k even for the absolute bare-bones poverty-spec bottom of the line. Especially since the fuel economy is that much better than a ute that gets the higher fee.

        If issue really is that people are pissy that someone else is getting a rebate for $8625 for their vehicle choice, that's another topic altogether. But unless BYD come to the party real quick, there aren't going to be any full electric utes under $80k that qualify anytime in the foreseeable anyways.

        • Graeme 5.1.1.1

          Think we're getting a clearer view of who isn't going to be involved as opposed to who is going to be in the market. Those that are won't be saying much until they launch and are standing back enjoying the show.

      • alwyn 5.1.2

        Toyota didn't throw a hissy as you suggest. They simply said that the PM was wrong when she told an interviewer that they were planning to bring out an RV ute.

        "When Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was interviewed on TV Three’s The AM Show on Monday she told host Duncan Garner that “within the next – we're hoping the next 12 to 24 months – the likes of Toyota are talking about bringing in EV utes. My hope is then people might delay their purchase in order to start building the market."

        EV does not, in normal usage, mean a standard hybrid vehicle which Toyota has been talking about The correction by Toyota was necessary to correct the false impression that the PM was giving.

      • Andre 5.1.3

        Graeme, since it appears you've actually seen some of those Rivians in the flesh – I gotta know – is it just a case of they don't photograph well, or does the front end on them really look as dorky as it does in pics?

        • Graeme 5.1.3.1

          I've stood right beside one, he was parked across our driveway waiting for someone to come off the Crown Range. They are a very nice looking vehicle, and seemed not that much bigger than a Hilux or Ranger. At night they are very distinctive with the oval lights. Definitely different, but still very nice looking and practical. Can see a shit load of them sold here once they hit, every tradie will need the ute yesterday.

          • Andre 5.1.3.1.1

            Pricing might be a bit high for actual tradies. Launch model in the US is allegedly $73k USD. So about double that in NZD, and no $8625 rebate. Unless the onboard power outlets means a whole lot more to them than I think it would.

            If they did take off though, it would kinda make a mockery of the bleating about the $2300 emissions fee coming in next year on our worst polluters.

            • Graeme 5.1.3.1.1.1

              The actual market would be the people currently driving around in a Merc double cab or big American truck, lots of both around here. The SUV would be in play right across the mid to upper part of that market.

              Fleet spec ute I’d like to see here would be the Canoo.
              https://www.canoo.com/pickup/

              Onboard power is something I would use a lot, right now I’ve got a generator on the trailer behind Landrover, batteries don’t quite do it hanging gates

  6. greywarshark 6

    Big and wider vehicles take up more of the road, park out from kerbs carelessly reducing width for others, block out visibility to an ordinary car or cyclist. I think there was an extra road tax or registration on larger vehicles like this at one time partly because they were less efficient fuel-wise with that extra bulk. So why not give them some signals like that, to encourage limiting their invasion? I call them garden sheds on wheels, and hate the way they park on the streets near corners, cutting off visibility of oncoming cars. Dangerous and unnecessary for most people needs.

    • pat 6.1

      It IS already a fuel efficiency 'tax'…..the fact it is called a ute tax is deliberate framing by those opposed or seeking political gain

      "From 1 January 2022 the Clean Car Discount will be based on the CO2 emissions of vehicles. Those with zero or low emissions would qualify for a rebate and those with high emissions would incur a fee."

      https://www.nzta.govt.nz/vehicles/clean-car-programme/overview/

  7. greywarshark 7

    Right now I'm up with the play or just about. I wonder how my 1989 Toyota will fare? I can keep it going for a while, and it is good looking in its lines and has a useful ledge at the back for resting groceries on! And a good hatchback.

    • lprent 7.1

      Old reliable cars are my favourite. I'd love to buy a PHEV or EV bacause of the minimal maintenance and emissions. But the price points simply aren't worth while for the amount of driving we do.

      Last year, our 1998 Toyota Caldina station wagon engine died, soon followed by the 1993 Toyota Corona sedan which got a reversing bump that wasn't worth fixing. On both of them we’d had done less than 20,000 kms over the previous decade. Both were second hand and at about 250,000km when they died.

      Replaced both with a 2005 Toyota Caldina station wagon for $4k off family who needed a bigger vehicle for larger kids. 125,000km. Right size for the occasional bit of building gear that we run around with. Spent a few thousand getting the paint fixed and the mechanics checked over.

      By way of comparison, my e-bike cost ~$3500 in 2017. I do about 1500km per year on the bike commuting to and from work.

      I now have a new job that will involve double days and an overnight in Hamilton for a while. Rest of the time will be working remote.

      Probably have to find another car for around town, because. If I take a car for two days, then my partner will not have transport for her occasional trips around town – which will invariably involve days that I need the car for work.

      I'd use the new commuter train – but it goes the wrong way. WTF! morning from Hamilton, evening to Hamilton is useless for any commute from Auckland. If it did a morning from Auckland and a evening from Hamilton, I'd use it. It'd be ideal because I could take the e-bike to and from it, plus take it with me on the train. Plus I can remote work on the train.

      The bus is useless because you simply can't work on one of those. It is worse than being in premium economy on a plane (where I can and have routinely worked). On the bus there is seldom room to take a big heavy e-bike. Without your own transport at each end getting to and from the bus station seems to take almost as much time and expense as the bus itself.

      Even if I do a year of it by car – which isn't that likely. Then 48 weeks * 126km * there and back = ~12,100km per year.

      Hardly worth spending a lot of capital buying either a new car or any EV or PHEV with any kind of subsidy. Spending something like $40k for 12,000km per year seems ridiculous.

      Basically my best options are decent public transport on a train. Failing that, an old but reliable Toyota.

      • Andre 7.1.1

        Small hybrids like a Honda Fit or a Toyota Aqua are now available around the $10k mark.

        I just got a project in Silverdale which means about 100km round trip most days so instead of using my old Landie I spent $10.5k on a 2014 Fit with 92k km. It gives me around 27km/l, or a bit under 4l/100km.

        Most of the fuel economy improvement on the open road comes from the hybrids using Atkinson cycle engines, which gives them diesel levels of thermal efficiency from a petrol engine. According to the fuel consumption readout on the dash, it's about the same around town, which is the hybrid battery doing its things.

        • lprent 7.1.1.1

          The problem is that for the kind of driving that we normally do, even $10k feels like a excessive amount. Currently with the station wagon, we'd normally fill ~$110-120 about every 6 weeks. This is in a relatively heavy car. I'd probably prefer it for the longer trips simply because it is more survivable in a high speed crash.

          With the new job I'll probably have to fill the Caldina every 2 weeks. It isn't going to exactly break the bank with a substantial pay rise. That is a fuel cost of about $3k for a year compared to our current cost of about $1k per year.

          I could get a nickel metal hydrid battery HEV Aqua for around $10k comparted to something like a mid-00s Vitz. Even assuming a a much lower fuel cost – say $1k per annum, I'd still be paying off the extra cost 3 years down the line for a car that is less crash survivable.

          Plus ultimately if I have to do do the weekly commute to Hamilton long term, I'd prefer it to be via train with an e-bike. A lot safer. Less hassle to get from down the bike paths to and from a train station.

          The rest of my work time I'll either be working at home or at a local workspace accessible by e-bike (or taxi if the weather sucks too much).

          BTW: Before someone suggests walking, I can't walk very far due to osteo-arthritis in the joint between my foot and one of my big toes. More walking than I have to do just causes more wear. I prefer to limit walking to the things that I do have to do – like the stairs up to our apartment.

          So the new vehicle will probably be something old and very small. I suspect that its only role is going to be around town driving. We'd be lucky to fill it every 8 weeks at a much lower capacity. But I'll keep looking out for a good cheap second hand lithium EV

      • greywarshark 7.1.2

        edit
        It is good to actually plot out the ways that people need to get around to attend to their lives and jobs, and not just airily talk about EVs and emissions. Have to be holistic and practical to get the best response on vehicles and the best showing on targeted emissions.

        The Ham-Ak Te Huia (this bird will fly and not become extinct, name) commuter train is still a brave experiment I think, where government responded to need and practicality, and didn't have to ask business what they would do – because we already know. Now that so many other business ideas are shown to be failing, perhaps gummint can get even braver, and show some muscle like Rosie the Riveter, rising to the nation's call with devoted determination. Perhaps the next train innovation, will be a sort of shuttle between Auckland and Hamilton. Or two that leave at the same time from each location and cross over midway where there is a loop enabling that.

        I've done a little nosey on what is the situation about loops or double tracks as I think rail is really important, so below:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Island_Main_Trunk:
        Most of the NIMT is single track with frequent passing loops, but has double track –

        • between Wellington and Waikanae, except for 3.3 km (2.1 mi) of single-track through tunnels between North Junction (35.3 km (21.9 mi) from Wellington) and South Junction, (32 km (20 mi) from Wellington), on the Pukerua Bay to Paekakariki section,[1]
        • between Hamilton and Te Kauwhata (except for the single-track Waikato River Bridge at Ngāruawāhia), and
        • between Meremere and Auckland Britomart….

        Note: The NIMT has been described as an "engineering miracle", with numerous engineering feats such as viaducts, tunnels and a spiral built to overcome large elevation differences with grades suitable for steam engines, the ruling gradient being 1 in 50.

        A paper written in 2008 for then railway infrastructure owner ONTRACK investigated the possibility of electrifying the remaining Papakura-Te Rapa gap between the Auckland urban system's terminus at Papakura on the NIMT and the central NIMT system, along with electrification of the East Coast Main Trunk to Tauranga. The report put the total cost of electrification at $860 million, with $433 million for the Papakura-Te Rapa section. It concluded that money would be better spent on grade and curvature easements, removing speed restrictions and increasing the length of passing loops

        And – Loops considered Under Tauranga Metro Services on google 2005?:
        Urban Form and Transport Initiative: Waikato & Bay of Plenty Metro Passenger Service Opportunities Report (KiwiRail) Additional Supporting Points to the Report

        The exact location of rail loops to enable frequencies needs to be aligned to future customer timetable requirements. As the Client specification is not yet at this point of detailing, KiwiRail advised generic (not location specific) loop requirements and average costs. More detailed specification and costing of double tracking, level crossing improvements, strand grade separation etc is beyond the scope of the report. The UFTI economic case has taken a conservative approach and instructed Beca to assume double tracking for much of the network for the “world class” scenario.
        (What would it cost if it was built to a NZ class, reliable, good-enough scenario?)

        There is mention of double track formation in the Future Opportunities page 28: https://www.transport.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/Report/The-Draft-NZ-Rail-Plan-December-19.pdf
        …more extensive network upgrades to enable accelerated and increased levels of service including:-Upper North Island – double track Auckland to Hamilton, re-open Stratford to Okahukura line, increase axle weight to 20 tonnes plus Auckland to Tauranga and 18 tonnes plus elsewhere, complete upgrade of rail in Northland….

        Interesting 'sideline' post about Malaysian Rail cf NZ.
        Feb.20219 https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2019/02/20/malaysian-regional-rapid-rail/

        [Too many links again that triggered Auto-Moderation. Try and keep your comments shorter with fewer links, fewer quotes and less quoted text, and more personal analysis]

  8. Mark 8

    The funniest part about the flood is that the old Nissan Leaf has a wading depth of 700mm, on par with the Toyota Hilux and only 100mm less than a Ford Ranger – no Utes needed to pull them EV’s out of the water.

    every time I mention that fact to a Ute lover they cringe and shake their heads in disbelief.

    • McFlock 8.1

      heh.
      Couple that with the fact that the ute towing the sedan is well out of the water on tarseal, the only essential kit for towing is the strap and a chassis attachment point.

    • Andre 8.2

      The owners manual on my 1994 Landrover Defender with zero electrickery (except the stereo) sez max wading depth is 500mm. Even though the air intake is about a metre off the ground, the holes into the timing belt cover and bellhousing that you're supposed to put wading plugs into are about 700 off the ground.

      Fair enough too, the way the steel chassis rusts it really is a good idea to keep it all out of the water.

    • Graeme 8.3

      700mm, that’s water into the cabin which will be the limiting factor.

      I've seen a video of an EV platform doing things that would kill a Hilux, extreme wading with the driver standing and the platform completely submerged, and going up, down and across quite extreme slopes. Unfortunately it seems to have gone off the web.

      Once these things hit market adoption will be that fast we'll wonder what all the fuss was about.

    • mac1 8.4

      Nissan Leaf test in water sends waves around the world!

  9. coreyjhumm 9

    Why are we pretending Utes are the reason they are most angry when they keep saying it's the SNA'S that they are worried about potentially losing 10-30% of their land. Rightly or wrongly that's there biggest concern and instead of anyone on our side trying to create dialogue we've gone all American style us and them and taken delight in flood damage. It's disgusting. We're actually creating an urban rural divide by mocking and condescension instead of listening. Gross

    Historically farmers and working class united under the liberal party against the landed gentry. A lot may have changed since then but just bagging the regions which the left won decisively last year is disgusting.

    I hate to defend the farmers but actually I see far more Utes on the streets of our cities.

    By constantly belittling them and laughing at any regional struggles or concerns the left are looking quite nasty and pig headed and actually this whole thing could grow and grow with this snide condescending attitude. They are openly talking about a general strike and talking to other industries like forestry, fisheries etc please actually stop being vicious and talk to each other ffs.

    I don't wanna see meatwokers locked out of their work cos there's no meat, cafes /supermarkets restraunts closed cos theres no supplies it'll hurt poor people like me who can't stock up. I don't want this to escalate.

    And also stop acting like the few racist and sexist signs spoke for all even the media said over and over again that they were a minority and it's just a what about ism to act like that was the entire protest

    Thats just as bad as when the right says the minority of antisemitic and fruit loop conspiracy theorist hard left signs you see at our left wing protests speak for everyone and how they try paint anyone with legitimate criticism of Israels govt with the same brush as the antisemites.

    Enough us and them . As the pm said on election night we are too small to be divided. We need to listen to each other and have dialogue not scape goat stereotype, rubbish slander and take glee at people we disagree withs suffering and that goes for us city folk as it does the rural folk

    Every day this country looks more and more americanized and divided and it's sad

    • lprent 9.1

      I hate to defend the farmers but actually I see far more Utes on the streets of our cities.

      My italics – and that is what most of the post was about (and certainly almost all of the comments). Perhaps you failed to read either of them? That is what your idiotic comment appears to say as far as I can see.

      The only reason that farmers came up in the post was because they were organising the "howl" and oversized junk on the roads was a major part of their publicity. If you want to whine about that – then talk to the PR morons publicising their protest.

      it's the SNA'S that they are worried about

      If a post was written on SNAs then the post would have looked completely different. It would have been about the RMA, district plans, erosion, biodiversity, protecting watersheds, and sediment in streams and rivers. But that wasn't the topic of the post – it was about utility vehicles, the effects of supersizing vehicles, and the lack of fringe benefit tax being charged on them..

      However the SNAs appears to be only a issue with a small minority of farmers that I'm aware of. Probably the ones who haven't been looking at watershed issues or taking care of their land. Most farmers I know have been voluntarily putting protections around parts of their land worth preserving from cutting and drainage for a long time.

      I know that my parents did decades ago to preserve bush areas and erosion zones. If you have a look at titles on a lot of farmland, you'll find SNA and preserved areas that are on the titles from decades ago.

      I don't wanna see meatwokers locked out of their work cos there's no meat, cafes /supermarkets restraunts closed cos theres no supplies it'll hurt poor people like me who can't stock up. I don't want this to escalate.

      You have to be kidding or simply outright ignorant. NZ exports roughly 17x as much food as it uses locally. The actual problem with the price of the food is that we are so orientated towards export that when demand for our exports goes up, so does the price of locally produced food.

      Just at present I've pretty much given up on buying steak and beef because the price exceeds my food budget. That is because we're effectively paying export to the US prices for any beef over the last few years. The same applies to most of the locally produced food in NZ including milk, cheese, butter, quite a lot of veges, etc that are largely exported to Aussie, China, US, Europe, and the other places we supply. Local prices are set mainly by what can be gained from those markets.

      If you don't this trend to 'escalate', then I'd suggest that ultimately your best bet is agitate to ban exports of food to increase local supply and drop prices. However I suspect that the resulting drop in an ability to afford imports would cause problems. Not to mention the banks foreclosing on farms.

      Which is why farmer ‘strikes’ are unlikely as well. Farmers mostly don’t control the food that they produce, It is sold to Fonterra, meat companies, export companies, and other companies – mostly for export. You’d have to convince them to join the strike and to not divert to the local market – which is unlikely. The money made at all phases largely goes to paying capital bank loans.

      But trying to argue that farmers are going to stop producing food because of minor cost increases relative to their current incomes from high overseas prices just shows that you don't understand the farming economy. Or alternatively that you're just another parrot repeating idiotic memes…

  10. weston 10

    Personally i dont see where all the angst is coming from about utes ?Yes i see quite a few ford rangers about i wouldnt want one even if i could afford it theyre just not my style im not gonna look askance at a ford ranger owner though cause its none of my damn business .If you can afford to save the world an get an ev thats excellent i,ll prob get one myself eventually when it can match my hilux for price reliability and usefulness .By the way theres prob a hundred suvs going down the road for every ute and they appear to be driven by mr and mrs perfectly normal and its because im guessing that a suv is versatile it suits a lot of people .IMO if you wanna rant an wail about motors theres ride ons regular lawnmowers weed eaters chainsaws generators every kind of moter under the long suffering sun billions of giant trucks and fucking campervans to mention just a few !!

  11. Maurice 11

    "SUV's" have basically replaced the old Station Wagon and are used either for cargo totting and trailer towing, or expanded passenger carrying. Where do we get an EV with those atributes and functionality in the $5,000/$15,000 price range? Especially as those SUV's do 300,000 to 500,000 kms before dying and are already here in plentiful quantities.

    • In Vino 11.1

      If they are already here in significant quantities and do the super-milages you claim, you can always buy a second-hand one when your own one dies, and we should continue with correct Govy policy of weaning entitled idiots off these gas-guzzlers.

      [removed this spurious text “If as you claim these” from user name]

  12. Sabine 12

    Maybe the government believes that there are more votes for them in the townies then the farmies? Also it needs to throw a bone – plant based of course – to the Greens every now and then, after all they might need them next election.

    All of the governments action are geared towards the haves, not the have nots. It is also geared against a rather small market – those with cash to spend on new cars or expensive second hand ones. The rest can walk, or swim depending the weather or pay fees because a. they are too poor to buy better, or because they can’t yet upgrade. But then, the poor have always paid for the toys of the rich and the wanna be rich.
    So in my books this has nothing to do with climate, but rather it should count as a ‘voter appeal’. Not sure however that it will be enough in 2023.
    At least if they would give the same hand outs for bikes – push bikes or electric bikes, or free public transport for a while for those that get rid of their cars. But i guess that would be some form of ‘socialism’ and we can’t have that for the poor either. Socialsim is for those that are rich. Here have a tax’cut’err’incentive.

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