The Motor Trade Association (MTA) is calling on the next New Zealand Government to implement mandatory emissions testing for vehicles undergoing a Warrant of Fitness (WOF) after members of the automotive industry described current standards as a “joke”.
Earlier this week, the body presented a strategic publication to parliament, called Driving New Zealand Forward: Future Proofing the Automotive Industry, which outlined several challenges the industry faces in this country and how they can be addressed.
Among the calls to action was the requirement that vehicles over ten years old must undergo annual air pollution tests in order to pass inspection.
The Association says that tailpipe emissions produced by older vehicles have been linked to the premature deaths of thousands of New Zealanders, 3300 to be exact, according to the Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand study conducted last year.
“The current emissions testing rules in the Warrant of Fitness are a joke,” said Glenn Thorley of Grimmer Motors. “Basically, you’re just meant to rev the engine and look at how much smoke comes out. If you did that, you’ve already polluted the environment.”
What Thorley is referring to is the visual exhaust smoke check WOF inspectors use to determine whether a vehicle is road worthy or not. Vehicles are revved up from idle and if they produce smoke for more than five seconds, the test is deemed a fail.
But the visual test doesn’t account for the invisible gasses that enter our atmosphere such as nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and particulate matter, hence the push for emissions testing.
To measure said emissions, a device is inserted into the tailpipe of a vehicle and provides a reading of the level of each gas emitted.
Most modern cars are fitted with catalytic converters in their exhaust systems which are designed to clean toxic gasses and pollutants exiting the engine after fuel is combusted. However, a lot of older cars were never fitted with the device as it wasn’t a requirement for vehicles sold in New Zealand until 2010.
“New Zealand is an outlier when it comes to emissions testing, Many countries in the OECD conduct rigorous testing – we must follow suit,” states MTA.
The body also suggested a vehicle should immediately fail its WOF if the check engine light is illuminated as this can suggest the engine isn’t burning fuel efficiently, as well as requiring biannual inspections for cars older than 15 years.
It’s strategic publication also outlined that the next New Zealand Government should abolish the Clean Car Discount and defer the Clean Car Standard by two years among other recommendations.