Clean car crackdown: Govt sets new standard for vehicle imports

Importers of new and used vehicles will be required to import more climate-friendly cars to reduce overall emissions – and will face penalties if they don’t.

The Government announced several measures today aimed at lowering emissions of the transport fleet to help New Zealand meet the goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.

They are:
• Setting a clean car import standard this year to take effect from next year
• Requiring public transport buses to be zero-emission from 2025
• Requiring public transport fleet to be decarbonised by 2035
• Mandating a lower emitting biofuel blend across the transport sector.

Transport Minister Michael Wood said legislation would be passed this year, and the standard would begin next year, with the target of 105 grams of CO2/km by 2025 being phased in through annual targets that get progressively lower to give importers time to adjust.

The aim of the clean car import standard is to increase the number of cars that are electric, hybrid and fuel efficient.

Each vehicle import will have a different target, depending on the type of vehicles they import but they will have to meet their target when averaged out over three years.

Wood says that light vehicles coming into the country are among the most fuel inefficientand emissions intensive of any OECD country.

The average vehicle in New Zealand has CO2 emissions of around 171 grams/kilometre compared to 105 in Europe.

Wood said the greater supply of cleaner cars would make them a realistic choice for more New Zealanders and a cost in fuel savings.

The penalty for an importer failing to meet the target would be applied annually to the fleet from 2023 by $50 for new vehicle import or $25 for used vehicle imports.

So a new car importer who imported 100 cars and exceeded their average fleet target in 2023 would pay a penalty of $5000.

New Zealand was one of only two OECD countries without a vehicle CO2 standard, the other being Russia.

The first target of 105g was achieved by Japan in 2014 and by Europe in 2020.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcements with several ministers in Auckland today.

“Transport makes up our second highest amount of emissions after agriculture, so it’s important we reduce emissions from our vehicle fleet,” Ardern said.

“Tackling climate change is a priority for the Government and remains a core part of our COVID recovery plan. We can create jobs and economic opportunities while reducing our emissions, so it’s win-win for our economy and climate. “

The previous Government tried to increased the national fleet of climate friendly cars but were blocked by New Zealand First.

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