Today the New Zealand Government has confirmed a significant step in its plans to reduce CO2 emissions on home soil, most notably by introducing a new Clean Car Standard by 2025 — just four years away — which will impact both new cars and used cars.
The strategy will see local distributors become forced to adhere to a 105g/km CO2 emissions average for their local line-ups by 2025. Petrol and diesel vehicles as we know them will still be allowed into the country, but brands will need to off-set their local sale with more low-emissions models such as EVs and plug-in hybrids. Farm vehicles (not including utes), military vehicles, and vehicles with ‘historic value’ (i.e. classic cars) are said to be exempt from the regulations.
Labour says the plan will be passed later this year and actioned in 2022, first with a more mild CO2 emissions target, with the idea of gradually ramping up to the 105g/km target by 2025 — a 40 per cent reduction on our current vehicle emissions average. This average would put New Zealand in line with the likes of Japan and Europe, both of which already have similar regulations in place.
The plan divides vehicles into two groups; cars and SUVs, and utes and vans. The former has a target of 102g/km to hit, and the latter has a target of 135g/km to hit. This could drastically change the complexion of New Zealand’s vehicle line-up, particularly given the country’s fixation on large utes and large SUVs. Many of these produce well over 135g/km. Ford’s 2.0-litre Ranger is among the best utes in the country for emissions, and is rated at 195g/km. For further perspective, Great Wall’s all-new Cannon ute is rated for 249g/km.
The NZ Herald reports that distributors found to have breached the average will be penalised a mere $50 per vehicle over the average for new-car sellers, and $25 per vehicle over the average for second-hand sellers.
The announcement is one of a raft of announcements the government has announced today. These include plans to fully electrify New Zealand’s bus fleet by 2035, and plans to mandate a lower emissions biofuel blend for use in cars across the country. These changes align with the government’s declaration of a ‘Climate Emergency’ late last year, which brought with it a pledge to electrify the government vehicle fleet by 2025.
“We’re moving quickly to introduce a Clean Car Import Standard to reduce emissions and Kiwis’ fuel costs. Legislation will be passed this year and the standard will begin next year, with the 105 grams of CO2/km 2025 target being phased in through annual targets that get progressively lower to give importers time to adjust,” says Transport Minister Michael Wood.
“The Import Standard will prevent up to 3 million tonnes of emissions by 2040, mean more climate-friendly cars are available, and will give families average lifetime fuel savings of nearly $7,000 per vehicle. The Government will also consider options for an incentive scheme to help Kiwis make the switch to clean cars. The Government will have further announcements on our plan to reduce transport emissions in the coming months.”
“Transport makes up our second highest amount of emissions after agriculture, so it’s important we reduce emissions from our vehicle fleet,” adds prime minister Jacinda Ardern. “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. We will be finalising our first three carbon budgets later this year following advice from the independent Climate Change Commission, which the Government receives mid-year.”
The announcement has already come under fire from the Motor Industry Association (MIA). In a statement, MIA CEO David Crawford has said that, while the group supports a push to introduce emissions standards, it also acknowledges that 2025 is too soon for local distributors to adapt. Crawford has urged the government to change the target date to 2030
“The MIA has stated on many occasions that we support well thought out and constructive policies that will lead to an increased rate in the reduction of CO2 emissions from the light vehicle fleet,” Crawford starts. “We welcome the Government’s commitment to introduce incentives and await more details on how these will work.
“However, while we believe the fuel economy standard is necessary, the speed at which we must reach the average target of 105 grams of CO2 per km is the most aggressive and severe in the world. No other country has ever had to face a 40% rate of reduction in five years that we now must meet. We urge the Government to amend the target date to 2030.”
Crawford notes that the Government hasn’t taken into account the shared distribution channels many local brands share with Australia — a country that doesn’t have a similar CO2 scheme in place. The issue here, he notes, is that these firms don’t have the capacity to be producing models specifically for the New Zealand market, which could result in local distributors struggling to meet targets and subsequently losing revenue.
“Contrary to the views of Government, the 2025 target date does not allow time for model development, vehicle sourcing arrangements and does not recognise that for many distributors in New Zealand their model choice is tied to the Australian market,” he says. “With no similar policy required in Australia, our market, which represents just 0.018% of new vehicle production in any one year, is too small for manufacturers to develop models just for us.”