Our ageing car fleet in MP's sights

By John Cousins

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The Kiwi tradition of keeping cars on the road for as long as possible could face a stiff challenge from the upcoming review of exhaust emissions.

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges has asked his transport officials to look at reducing emissions from New Zealand's ageing car fleet.

The Associate Minister of Transport told the Bay of Plenty Times that the average age of cars in New Zealand was around 13 years - the highest figure in the developed world and two years older than Australia's average.

On the basis that newer cars were not only safer but cleaner, Mr Bridges said that one of the options was to review the composition of cars and possibly develop a policy to accelerate the scrapping of vehicles approaching the end of their life.

"Newer cars have enhanced safety features and higher standards of emissions."

Another measure they could take was to clamp down on the practice by car and truck owners to tamper with emission control devices fitted to second-hand imports.

Mr Bridges said it was absolutely legal to attach other devices that got around these emission controls. "But there are some pretty strong arguments against this."

The practice was linked to increasing the performance of car engines and getting more fuel economy from heavy vehicles.

He wants to take a "broad look" at emission standards for vehicles already on New Zealand's roads prior to the next review in 2014.

Submissions to the last review, which led to improved standards for petrol vehicles being introduced earlier this year, would help "inform the review" for 2014.

"I am interested in how we can improve vehicles without heaping a whole lot more costs on people."

Better vehicles resulted in less deaths and serious injury because newer cars had a higher range of safety features like electronic stability control. "It really makes driving much safer."

The review would also feed into the whole debate around the 100 per cent Pure New Zealand campaign.

Meanwhile, the Government has amended the emissions rule for new vehicles entering the country after November 1 next year. The new rule which takes effect on January 1, will meet the world's best emission standards

It will mirror Australia's rules which adopted the current European standard that significantly reduced harmful emissions. Mr Bridges said it will also introduced more recent standards from the US and Japan as alternatives.

The new rule clarifies that proof of compliance with emission standards cannot be shown by a simple emissions test. It will require documentation provided by an approved body.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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