Used car importers are taking legal action in a bid to prevent the Government from tightening vehicle emission standards, which they claim will push up prices.
Imported Motor Vehicle Industry Association chief executive David Vinsen said his organisation had lodged an application with the High Court at Wellington seeking a judicial review into actions of Transport Minister Steven Joyce.
It was seeking a review into his refusal to review vehicle emissions standards, which he said would progress in January to the point of severely limiting the choice of used cars.
The standards would effectively prevent the importation of cars manufacturer before 2005, compared with an existing restriction against pre-2002 models. Mr Vinsen said that would boost prices by $2000 to $4000.
A spokeswoman for Mr Joyce said the minister was unable to comment on the issue, now that it was before the courts.
But a report prepared for him in July by the Ministry of Transport said the vehicle emissions rule did not in itself create a price barrier to consumers wishing to buy a vehicle between $10,000 and $14,000.
Although acknowledging that car buyers may have to spend more to buy a newer imported vehicle meeting the new standards, it said they would have alternative purchasing options if they were constrained to the $10,000 to $14,000 bracket.
That may require importers to provide a larger range of smaller cars, until vehicles such as people movers became more affordable from Japan as they got older.By Mathew Dearnaley Email Mathew