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Government Aligns Clean Car Importer Standard With Australia To Reduce Vehicle Prices For Kiwis

Hon Simeon Brown
Minister of Transport:

The Government will be aligning the Clean Car Importer Standard with Australia in order to provide the vehicle import market with certainty and ease cost of living pressures on Kiwis the next time they need to purchase a vehicle, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.

“The Government supports the Clean Car Importer Standard to ensure that New Zealand has an affordable mix of clean vehicles. Following a comprehensive review into the Standard we will be making key changes to ensure the Standard strikes the right balance between reducing transport emissions while ensuring that New Zealand’s have access to affordable vehicles.

“Advice provided to me by the Ministry of Transport found that under current targets set by the former Government, CCS penalties are forecast to amount to approximately $800.6 million of cost to consumers purchasing a new car in 2027 which is around $5,549 per vehicle.

“The review found that the Standard’s current targets are too stringent and are increasingly difficult for importers to meet, as they are out of step with manufacturing standards from leading vehicle manufacturers. In fact, the review found that the commercial targets for 2026 and 2027 are more stringent than every other country in the world.

“If we don’t change the path we are on, we will simply pile costs onto consumers while also failing to make emissions reductions. New Zealand won’t have access to the low emission vehicles needed to meet the strict Standard as manufacturers are not in a position to introduce them to our market.

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“New Zealand does not manufacture vehicles, meaning we are reliant on international markets and need to ensure our policies align with other larger economies to not put at risk our ability to access these markets.

From 1 January 2025, the Government is implementing changes to the Clean Car Importer Standard’s emissions targets for 2025-2029. These changes will ensure the Standard emissions targets are stringent enough for New Zealand to receive a supply of clean vehicles, but not too stringent that importers cannot meet the targets, leading to higher vehicle prices:

  • Re-aligning the Standard’s emissions targets for 2025-2029 towards Australia’s targets with Commercial Vehicles aligning from 2026 and Passenger Vehicles aligning from 2027.
  • Pass legislation to make further changes to provide more flexibility into the use of the Standard’s emission credits and charges to support achievement of the targets.
  • We will also be exempting disability vehicles from the Standard. This change will take effect as soon as possible after the new regulations are made.

“New Zealand and Australia are effectively one car market – so it makes sense to have the same approach to CO2 emissions standards between our two countries.

“We are also exempting disability vehicles from the Standard to ensure that New Zealanders with a disability can access the specialised vehicles they depend on without facing increased costs. New Zealand’s disability community has been calling for these changes for some time, and our Government is delivering.”

Notes :

  • The Government will review the Standard’s targets every two years to ensure their long-term achievability. 
  • Advice received from the Ministry of Transport states that the old targets were unlikely to be achieved. Consequently, the estimated emission reduction potential would have likely been difficult to realise. This is because the charges vehicle importers face for non-achievement of the targets would have flown-through into increased vehicle prices, encouraging people to hold onto their older emissions intensive vehicles for longer.
  • Disability vehicles will be exempted from the Clean Car Standard as soon as amendment regulations are gazetted which will be completed in coming weeks.

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