Over the last 18 months, we have seen a big increase in the number of clients asking about importing electric cars from the UK.
This is partly because people are wanting to reduce their carbon footprint and partly because some governments have reduced the import duty to encourage the import of electric cars.
We have now sold a significant number of electric cars to a variety of continents and have noticed the common questions that are on people’s minds when deciding whether to import an electric car.
Is importing electric cars becoming popular?
It is interesting to see how quickly the residents of a country can be quickly swayed towards considering electric cars when the government steps in and provides tax benefits for electric cars or conversely increase the duties on larger engine petrol and diesel cars.
Looking at New Zealand, circa 18 months ago, most clients were talking about buying V8s and large consumption engines. But in 2021, the government introduced a rebate system for electric cars i.e. a reduction in taxes followed by an additional levy on petrol cars which very quickly increased interest in importing electric cars to NZ.
Will electric cars charge in different countries with different voltages?
The good news is yes. In our experience, all the electric cars our clients have enquired about have been able to be successfully charged in the destination country. Most electric cars are sold with a three-pin charger for use with a 2.4kW socket and a type 2 cable.
However, this can be extremely slow, sometimes in excess of 35 hours, depending on the car so many of our clients opt to buy a wall box charger that they can install at home and drastically reduce charging times.
Do I need to buy a wall charger supplied by the manufacturer of the car?
You don’t need to buy the branded charging point from the manufacturer of your car. There are many independent suppliers supplying wall box chargers and some larger names such as Podpoint, BP Pulse, and Tesla. Our team will be happy to recommend a supplier if you would like some guidance on this.
Can my electric car be serviced locally?
A significant concern is around the servicing of the car. We have strongly recommended that clients avoid importing electric cars if the manufacturer doesn’t have a main dealer service center available in the country.
In our opinion, should a vehicle need support, then you need to refer to the locally approved representative who can help. Having driven electric vehicles ourselves, they don’t seem to need to be serviced as much, but they do need the correct equipment to service them.
So having an endorsed local agent is a very important factor.
Are there any restrictions on exporting/importing vehicles?
With regard to restrictions on exporting a vehicle, the key point to consider is the ownership of the battery. Most batteries are owned by the car owner, leaving you free to purchase and export the car.
However, occasionally we see a car that has a leased battery, meaning that the manufacturer owns the battery. Should you want to export a car whose battery is a leased battery, this could well be an issue and it would be worth exploring the legal obligations in more detail before committing to the car.
Are there any restrictions on shipping or transporting electric cars?
We have recently been made aware of a potential issue with the shipping of electric cars. Some shipping companies have recently flagged electric vehicles as a fire risk.
Having surveyed a number of shipping agents, it seems that the shipping companies who are experiencing higher volumes of electric cars being exported are tightening their restrictions on how the cars are stowed.
We understand that some shippers are requiring the cars to be packed into a refrigerated container a ‘reefer’ as they are known. What is concerning is that the reefers don’t have the anchor points that a normal shipping container has, therefore the packing and lashing is a much more specialist task.
So where a traditional container is more expensive than RORO shipping, a reefer container is going to have a higher tariff than a standard container. This means that it is very important to understand the shipping requirements from shipping lines prior to buying an electric car for export.
Will an electric car drive the same and function the same when exported?
The functions and controls of the car are the same as they are when in its country of origin. The cars continue to be very intuitive.
They upload the software updates just as they would have in the UK and so you can feel confident that the cars will perform as you would expect when it arrives.
Do I get a discount on import duty for importing an electric car?
This is a country-specific question. But the current trend is for countries to introduce tax benefits and reduced levies for electric cars vs their petrol and diesel alternatives.
So we would strongly recommend researching this for your country and keeping close to developments in government policy as you may find your duties are much more cost-effective than you thought.