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New Vehicle Industry is right behind Biofuels

April 2006

New Vehicle Industry is right behind Biofuels

The new vehicle industry is playing a major role in the biofuels conference currently being hosted by EECA (Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority). “We’re totally in support of the advancement of renewable energy as a source of vehicle fuel,” said Perry Kerr, CEO of the Motor Industry Association, “and we’re working hard to help hasten the process in New Zealand.”

As part of this commitment, the MIA has brought a keynote speaker to the conference from Japan. Mr. Yasunori Takei is the chairman of the fuels sub-committee of JAMA (Japan Automotive Manufacturers Association), and he will be presenting JAMA’s papers on biofuel technology as it relates to not only a major vehicle market, but also the source country of most of the vehicles on New Zealand roads.

Individual members of the MIA are particularly proactive in terms of biofuels for vehicles sold new in New Zealand. “Currently 99% of new petrol-powered vehicles sold in this country are E5 (ethanol 5%) compatible, and 95% are E10 compatible,” said Mr. Kerr. “The problem however, is with the fact that the New Zealand fleet is dominated by used imports, which currently comprise 51.5% of vehicles on our roads, a figure which is expected to rise to 65%.”

This creates a huge problem for renewable fuel sources in New Zealand because biofuels have only been introduced very recently in the Japanese market, and because of the absence of proven fuel system hardware in older vehicles, the Japanese government only approves an ethanol blend of up to 3%. “As a result, we’re also stuck with a maximum of E3 for the foreseeable future, purely because of the fact that we continue importing so many old cars from Japan,” Mr. Kerr said.

Biodiesel has not yet been used commercially in the Japanese domestic market, although JAMA and the Japanese government are carrying out a testing programme. When results from this are available later this year, it may mean changes to the New Zealand standard for biodiesel, purely because of the increasing age of used Japanese diesel vehicles crossing New Zealand wharves.

“Until the results of these tests are know, we can’t comment whether or not biodiesel blend fuel is going to be suitable for the mixed New Zealand fleet of NZ-new and used imported diesel vehicles,” said Mr. Kerr.

The MIA is frustrated by the effect that a used import dominated local vehicle fleet is having on our ability to join the rest of the world in cleaning up vehicle emissions. “While used imports do address a shortage of used vehicles we should have rolling seven year age limit to minimise their adverse environmental impact” said Mr Kerr. “Biofuel technology is a central plank of our Kyoto commitment and we now find that we can’t introduce it because we continue to import outdated technology from Japan” concluded Mr Kerr


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