The Motor Industry Association (MIA), a grouping of new car importers, has criticised a New Zealand government decision to abandon in-field testing of vehicle emission levels, originally planned to begin in 2006. The government said the project would have been plagued by accuracy problems.
“This is a huge cop-out, and an admission that our vehicle fleet is so decrepit that a meaningful measurement of emission levels would be too difficult to administer,” said MIA CEO Perry Kerr. “Frankly, we’re very disappointed but not surprised. There has never been any real incentive to reduce the age of the fleet, to maintain old vehicles in good condition or particularly to ensure that worn out catalytic converters are replaced.”
“The government is fast running out of options to satisfy the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol that they so hastily signed up to,” added Kerr. “Although they make a lot of noise about ethanol being one of the answers, the simple fact is that the fuel companies cannot endorse it because well over half the vehicle fleet (imported used cars, mostly from Japan) cannot be guaranteed to use an ethanol mix without incurring problems. Obviously the fuel suppliers don’t need or want that responsibility.”
The MIA said the only way the government can now have a serious effect on the emission levels of the NZ vehicle fleet is to implement an age ban on used imported vehicles.
“The fleet continues to get older, driven by the increasingly elderly 4WDs [SUVs] that continue to escape the loophole of the fontal impact rules,” said Kerr. “This is being exacerbated by the recent lack of legislative changes in Japan – the vehicle manufacturers are now moving well ahead of government requirements in both safety and emissions, and New Zealand is the loser due to our ‘Wild West” vehicle importing rules.”
“We urgently need some government action that will at least establish a minimum level of vehicle anti-pollution technology that can be imported into this country. We see a rolling seven-year age ban for used imports as the initial step,” added Kerr.
New Zealand requires only that an imported vehicle complies with emission standards applicable in its country of manufacture at the time it was built. For used imported vehicles, such emission standards could be a decade old.