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Exhaust emission rule will backfire: IMVDA

Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier

BACKWARDS STEP: Import car dealers Graham Haworth (right) and Doug Rushbrooke unloading a new shipment of imported vehicles for their Te Awamutu yards. 186071AD

By Dean Taylor

Experienced Te Awamutu car dealers Graham Haworth and Doug Rushbrooke are putting their weight behind submissions against new exhaust emission standards. They say if the standards are made law, the industry could return to the ‘bad old days’ of high vehicle prices and an ageing fleet. The Government has proposed tough new exhaust emission standards for the New Zealand fleet of vehicles, which it says will help clean up the country.

Members of the Independent Motor Vehicle Dealers Association (IMVDA) say the result will be higher vehicle prices and no positive effect on the environment.

The new proposals were announced in May by Associate Transport Minister Judith Tizard and Minister for Transport Safety Harry Duynhoven. They say they are aimed at improving air quality and public health by reducing harmful vehicle emissions.

A 2002 Ministry of Transport report showed around 400 people died prematurely each year from vehicle exhaust emissions. Their aim is to combat this by requiring all vehicles to meet the tougher standards when they are first registered on New Zealand roads. This would mean used imports would need to meet the required standards.

But IMVDA chief executive David Vinsen says the result would be an immediate restriction on used imports, reducing availability and choice of cars, 4WDs and commercial vehicles. He predicts a 95% reduction in used commercial numbers and 50% for cars, resulting in huge price increases. It is expected the replacement for a basic used import in the popular $9000 to $10,000 range would cost $15,000 to $16,000. Truck prices are expected to double.

As a result most Kiwis will not be able to afford to upgrade, so will keep their current vehicle for longer. The national fleet will age and create more pollution, not less as the Government wants.

Unbelievably these fears are backed by the Government’s own experts. The Ministry of Transport commissioned consulting firm COVEC to evaluate the impact of the rule. Their best possible scenario, where every potential buyer upgrades to a conforming vehicle, shows an environmental improvement of less than 0.5%. The most likely scenario where half the potential buyers upgrade, and the rest drive an ageing fleet, results in a 2.5% increase in pollution.

The IMVDA believes the motor trade can work with the Government to achieve the desired result in a more positive manner simply by working on getting older vehicles off the road by making replacement more accessible.

Mr Haworth’s business, Watson Haworth Motors has been involved in the used import business for many years. He says in the days of high prices people were spending six months salary to buy a standard four door, two litre, four speed saloon with no air conditioning, no electrics, no air bags, no ABS braking systems or other technological safety features apart from seat belts. Now buyers can spend three months salary and buy a good family saloon with all those features, and more. He says the country’s fleet has improved over the years as a result of used imports, and the new proposal is a giant step backwards.

Mr Rushbrooke owns and operates TASS. His family is an automotive institution in Te Awamutu. He says the new law is flawed in many ways, and the negative implications far outweigh any possible benefits. Mr Rushbrooke says the industry’s infrastructure could be seriously undermined if this law came into effect - wasting years of work and costing jobs. Secondly he says New Zealand has a huge number of trade and service people using economical, small commercial diesel vehicles. These vehicles are most likely to be worst affected by a law change, so any dramatic increases in replacement prices will be passed on to end users and drive up inflation.

The final point is that every vehicle taken off the road requires energy use to break down the unwanted vehicle. Mr Rushbrooke believes that the energy used to dismantle, crush, recycle or destroy non-complying vehicles could exceed any environmental saving.

Submission on the new law close this Monday, July 9. Check www.ltsa.govt.nz/consultation and www.imvda.co.nz for further information.