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Cash incentives for climate-friendly cars

30 April 2006

Media Release

Six out of 10 support cash incentives for climate-friendly cars

More than six out of 10 New Zealanders back a policy proposal to provide Government cash grants to people buying fuel efficient, low emission cars.

Support among Labour voters runs as high as 71%.

The representative national poll of 750 people aged 18+, conducted by UMR for the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, shows solid support for the main elements of a proposal now before Government to make cash payments to climate friendly car buyers.

While petrol prices hit all-time highs, the policy will allow some car buyers to cut their petrol bills by up to half, while also helping the country lower emissions. The policy will also help the Government tackle its $1 billion Kyoto carbon credit deficit.

The policy includes $2000 cash penalties for those buying cars guzzling 14 litres of petrol per 100 km or more.

The aim is to spur a change in the one of the world's oldest and least efficient vehicle fleets, while also moving to protect the quality of life in New Zealand.

The Business Council – whose 51 member companies advocate business should be profitable while contributing to ecological balance and social progress – believes its policy could see 43% of the car fleet become climate friendly over the next 10 years.

The cash grants policy would launch the first major assault to lower the country's green house gas emissions.

The poll shows 61% support cash grants for people registering used climate friendly used imported cars. Only 20% oppose.

On cash grants ranging up to $3000 for new cars on first registration in New Zealand, and a $2000 penalty on new gas guzzlers, there is 55% support. Only 24% oppose the idea.

The poll shows the main political parties will find the policy popular with a majority of their supporters: the climate friendly imports policy is supported by 85% of those saying they intend voting Green; 71% of Labour voters; 53% of National voters and 45% of NZ First voters.

Support among party voters for the cash grants and penalties policy for new cars is Green 68%, Labour 60%, National 51% and New Zealand First 50%.

Business Council Chief Executive Peter Neilson says the poll shows there is solid nationwide backing for measures which let Kiwis reap the financial, health and climate benefits of cleaning up one of the world's oldest and dirtiest car fleets.

The Business Council was doing more work on the policy's impact on cutting the country's carbon deficit under the Kyoto protocol. The net cost to Government and taxpayer would drop dramatically as a result.

"Our passenger vehicle fleet is one of the oldest in the world. The average age is 11.7 years. That compares with 10.1 years in Australia and only 6.3 years in the UK. On top of that we own more cars per head than most other countries in the world: 580 per 1000 people. Even the United States has only 481 per 1000.

"Every time we import a new gas guzzler we have the problem for the next 20 years. While higher petrol prices are crunching the prices of gas guzzlers, they still stay in use. So we need to make sure the cars we do import also have long term benefits from better fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

"Political leaders can take a great deal of comfort from our latest polling: if they implement this policy they'll have solid support from every region and main centre, the rural areas, and from voters of every political hue.

"For the Business Council it's very heartening to reaffirm that Kiwis are down to earth people who want to maintain the country's quality of life, especially for their children, and they'll back balanced commonsense policies to achieve that."

The number of vehicles qualifying under the grants scheme is steadily expanding and now includes about 29 models from nearly all major car makers (see list below).

The business leaders want the policy taken up in this year's Budget or as an outcome of the Government's coming climate change and energy policy reviews.


Editors note: Full results of the UMR poll are attached, or available at New Zealand's total emissions each year are 75 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. Of this, almost half (37Mt) is from agriculture (livestock and fertiliser emissions) and almost one fifth (14Mt) is from transport. The latest (2008-2012) forecast of our emissions position in the Kyoto first commitment period, when binding commitments apply, predicts that New Zealand's emission will exceed our 1990 baseline emissions by 36 million tonnes.

Examples of vehicles eligible under the Business Council's proposed grants policy:

(List derived from the Green Vehicle & Fuel Consumption Guides, Australian Greenhouse Office)

Vehicles eligible for $3,000 or $1,000 incentive (NZ new & used imports, respectively):

Audi A4 (2L) Diesel

Honda Jazz (1.5L) Petrol

Daihatsu Sirion (1.3L) Petrol

Peugeot 307 (2L) Diesel

Holden Barina (1.4L) Petrol

Toyota Prius (1.5L) Hybrid

Honda Civic (1.3L) Hybrid

Volkswagen Polo 3/5 Door (1.9L) Diesel

Mitsubishi RG Colt LS (1.5L) CVT 1 Petrol

Alfa Romeo 147 16 valve (1.9L) Diesel

Hyundai 05 Getz GL (1.6L) Petrol

Vehicles eligible for $1,500 or $500 incentive (NZ new & used imports, respectively):

Citroen C5 (2.2L) Diesel

Kia Rio (1.5L) Petrol

Daewoo Lacetti (1.8L) Petrol

Mazda 2 (1.5L) Petrol

Ford Focus (2L) Petrol

Nissan Pulsar (1.8L) Petrol

Holden Astra (1.8L) Petrol

Peugeot 407 (2L) Diesel

Hyundai Sonata (2.4L) Petrol

Toyota Corolla (1.8L) Petrol

Ford WQ Fiesta Ghia (1.6L) Petrol

Hyundai 3 Accent gl (1.6L) Petrol

Honda Civic VTi (1.8L) Petrol

Ford LS Focus Zetec (2.0L) Petrol

BMW 320i E90 (2.0L) Petrol

Holden JF Viva (1.8L) Petrol

Renault X84 Megane II (2.0L) Petrol

Vehicles with $2,000 or $1,000 penalty applied (NZ new & used imports, respectively):

Ford Falcon XR8 (5.4L) Petrol

Mazda RX8 (2.6L) Petrol

Holden Commodore Executive (3.6L) Petrol

Subaru Legacy (3L) Petrol

Honda Legend (3.5L) Petrol

Toyota Hilux (4L) Petrol

The Business Council's recommendations on price cuts for fuel efficient cars are outlined in its report "Incentivising Greener Vehicles" (available at

The Business Council believes sustainable businesses are profitable, contribute to social progress and ecological balance – and protect New Zealand's quality of life. The Council's 51 members jointly employ 55,000 people engaged in managing resources, manufacturing, retailing and the service sector. Members contribute annual sales of $33 billion to the economy, equivalent to 28% of GDP.

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