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Incentives needed to fix ageing car fleet

Small car sales up, but incentives needed to fix a still-ageing, high emission car fleet

Cash grants to people buying fuel efficient, low emission cars will provide the quickest way of cleaning up the country's ageing car fleet, the New Zealand Business Council says.

Sales of small cars are being pumped up by record petrol prices, and some claim the market has spoken.

However, the country was warned today that its car fleet is actually getting older and emission standards on new and imported cars need to be lifted.

"We have become the world dumping ground for high emission used imports," the Chief Executive of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, Peter Neilson says.

"The average age of a used import is actually going up, and is now eight years. New Zealand deserves a world class fleet. Why should we import vehicles you wouldn't be allowed to drive in Europe, Japan or in many states of the United States? Every time we take in a high emission cast-off we're adding to our Kyoto carbon bill.

"We need to phase in Euro IV-equivalent emission standards, and quickly introduce incentives for buyers of fuel efficient, low emission cars both new and used imports - to clean up the fleet. We also need cash incentives to make low emission, fuel efficient cars economic for companies to buy. At the moment, petrol would need to hit $4 per litre, or a car travel 80,000 km a year, to make a hybrid competitive.

"Our research indicates that if we bring in cash grants, we will add about another 86,000 fuel efficient, low emission cars to the fleet each year. If we do that for five years we can switch a substantial part of the fleet to climate friendly cars and the benefits will flow through for the 13 to 20 year life of each vehicle."

The policy to provide cash grants to buyers and penalise those buying gas guzzlers, using 12 litres per 100 kilometres or more had solid nationwide support in a UMR poll. Some 61% back cash grants for new climate friendly cars, and support stays solid at 55% for the policy involving a $2000 penalty for gas guzzlers.

The policy proposal is now being considered as part of the Government's climate change review.

The Business Council whose 51 members' $33 billion in annual sales equate to 28% of the gross domestic product also wants emission standards raised to the latest European standards on all vehicles, including imports.

"We can make a quick, relatively easy and painless tackle on transport emissions the second highest source of greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand," Mr Neilson says.

"We can cut people's petrol bills by up to half and improve air quality. Already 400 people are dying prematurely each year from diseases caused by fuel particles, and treating people suffering from illnesses caused by vehicle emissions is costing $400 million a year. It makes sense to go for a climate friendly fleet that also improves our health. Cutting the Kyoto carbon bill is a bonus."


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