New Zealand's Motor Industry Association (MIA), representing new vehicle importers, has come out broadly in support of government initiatives aimed at reducing the exhaust emission levels of used imported vehicles (which some new vehicle importers such as Toyota also bring in, sourcing cars from parent companies' dealer networks).

"It's pleasing that the government is becoming proactive in doing something about this problem," said MIA CEO Perry Kerr, "and it's particularly encouraging that the proposals include standards for diesel vehicles, including trucks, as well as mandating an actual emissions test at the border."

"The border emissions test is something that's long overdue and we support it wholeheartedly," added Kerr. "It's effectively the same test that the car would undergo if it was remaining in service in Japan, and it would provide a huge incentive for importers to avoid old, worn out vehicles."

But the MIA reckons the proposals could go a step further. The government is suggesting that New Zealand adopt emission standards applying in the Japanese domestic market from certain dates. For petrol cars, the Japanese standard updated in 2000/2002 (depending on model) would be the minimum applying in New Zealand from 2008. The 2005 Japanese standard would apply from 2010 and the new 2009 Japanese standard would apply in New Zealand from 2013.

"Although the government is suggesting that this proposal will in effect become a de facto age limit on used car imports, it's not quite like that because the Japanese standards are only updated every four years or so," said Kerr. "In the intermediate years older cars would be able to be imported, thus exposing us to older, less efficient technology. If the proposal was backed up with an actual age limit, we would not only have the benefit of continuously improving emissions technology, but we'd also have a progressive reduction in the average age of our vehicle fleet."

"Between 1996 and 2004, Japanese vehicle manufacturers achieved an improvement in fuel economy of their new models of 24%," Kerr said. "We need to take advantage of this ongoing progress rather than proceed towards the objective by way of lurches in 2010 and 2013."