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Investigations Need To Go Further

Media Release

15th October 2006

Investigations Need To Go Further

The Government’s car fuel efficiency and climate change investigations for new and used car imports are welcome but will need to provide incentives to address our existing stock of old vehicles and cover vehicles over 3.5 tonnes.

The Government’s announcement of its investigations to improve the fuel economy of the country’s vehicle fleet are a welcome step in addressing the safety issues, air pollution and Greenhouse Gas emissions associated with the New Zealand car fleet profile which is one of the oldest and worst in the OECD.

Peter Neilson, Chief Executive of the Business Council believes the Government is trying to achieve a variety of outcomes which may be better addressed by specific targets and policies to address each area of concern:

“To address safety concerns, we agree with the Government’s plan to look at setting an age restriction on imports so we can take advantage of improving safety standards as they are introduced in the country’s manufacture. This needs to be supported by measures to ensure imports meet safety standard criteria which could restrict imports from markets which do not share those standards.”

“To address Greenhouse Gas emissions, the Government needs to incentivise people to change from lower to higher fuel efficiency cars which will reduce CO2 emissions. This requires dollars behind it.”

“To address air pollution, the Government needs to introduce a requirement that all vehicles coming into the country meet Euro 3 (or equivalent) now and Euro 4 (or equivalent) standard from 2008. This will bring us into line with Europe, Japan and Australia.”

Mr Neilson says polling shows that these types of policies will win widespread support among New Zealanders. The Business Council advocates the introduction of cash grants of up to $3000 to buyers of fuel efficient, low emission cars. This would see 430,000 low emission vehicles enter the terribly old national fleet over five years – and save the country millions in health and emission bills.

“There are a number of potential fishhooks in the proposals being investigated by officials to achieve an average fuel efficiency target for additions to our car fleet. Trying to set a target for the whole of the New Zealand fleet including both new and used import vehicles is likely to be a bureaucratic nightmare. The investigations address future imports which is a useful move but our biggest problem is the existing stock of vehicles which are sitting in garages and car dealers’ yards up and down the country. Unless we provide incentives for people to buy more fuel efficient/lower emission vehicles and replace the older ones, then change in the stock will be limited.”

“We welcomed the proposal to introduce a visible smoke test for cars however it is counter-intuitive for most of us to understand why the proposal targets vehicles under 3.5 tonnes when quite clearly we have a major issue with pollution and emissions from older trucks, vans and buses. Every car driver and cyclist has experienced the unpleasant reality of being behind an older truck or van pumping out exhaust fumes.”

“We were also encouraged by the Government’s plan announced last week to audit its own agencies with fleets of over 50 cars and addressing the “carbon footprint” of their travel impacts. Central and local government must lead by example by replacing their own cars, utes, vans, buses and trucks with fuel efficient low emission vehicles.”

“Cash incentives to purchase new or used import fuel efficient/lower emission vehicles would help both public and private sector buyers to green their vehicles. Many New Zealanders want to move to fuel efficient and cleaner cars but need financial incentives to make the move” said Mr Neilson.


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