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Hero Clean Car Standards Media Release

MEDIA RELEASE 28 January 2021

MTA says "Don't forget vehicle safety"

“Greening” the fleet may exacerbate New Zealand’s vehicle safety problem.

Motor Trade Association (MTA) CEO Craig Pomare acknowledged the importance of addressing climate change and understands the Government’s decision to progress the Clean Car Import Standard.

“The overall targets and timing are very aggressive but there is not enough detail to fully assess the market impact five years from now, Mr Pomare said.

“Of immediate concern to MTA is the safety issues in the existing fleet of 4 million vehicles. The country must address the number of New Zealanders dying on the roads because their cars are not safe. Today one in ten fatal crashes involve a vehicle factor.”

MTA expects the new Standard to result in increased vehicle prices for fresh imports. As such, many consumers may be forced to purchase cheaper, older cars from within the existing fleet.

“The New Zealand vehicle fleet is getting older, not younger, and we know people are more likely to die in older cars. While we need do something about emissions we also need to saves lives by encouraging drivers to buy and maintain newer, cleaner, safer vehicles,” Mr Pomare said.

MTA strongly recommends Government consider initiatives to incentivise safe choices by consumers. These could include meaningful rebates linked to emissions and safety ratings, along with a robust scheme for scrapping older vehicles.

“We need to look at safety and the environment for the whole life cycle of the vehicle,” Pomare said.

In 2017 the average age of New Zealand’s light passenger vehicle fleet was 14.4 years. This is older than that in the United States (11.6 years for cars and light trucks in 2016) Australia (10.1 years for all vehicles in 2016). Older cars lack the crash mitigation safety features found in newer cars.

A 2016 Ministry of Transport study that analysed fatal crashes to determine why there was an impact severe enough to result in death, concluded that the victims’ vehicles were, on average, significantly older than the vehicles that they hit.