Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Ullo John! Got A New Motor?

Hot on the heels of yesterday's report from developers whinging about not being able to build sprawling suburbs as quickly and cheaply as they'd like, today's Dominion Post says in a front page article that the Transport Ministry is considering a Green Party proposal to link car registration charges with fuel efficiency. A sensible move in the face of soaring oil prices and record trade deficits, one would think.

But of course, not everyone is happy. Someone said: "We agree something needs to be done in terms of the efficiency of the fleet. We would, however, be more likely to support increasing the registration costs in relation to the vehicle's age as opposed to whether it had a large or small engine." So that would penalise old cars rather than gas guzzling ones. And that would be an incentive to buy new cars, wouldn't it?

So who said this? Perry Kerr, chief executive of the Motor Industry Association, which represents those who, erm, sell new cars. Right, no conflict of interest there, then!


At 2:53 pm, January 25, 2006, Blogger Lucius said...

I believe Umberto Eco described Mr Perry Kerr when he wrote:
"A moron is a master of paralogism."

At 8:43 am, January 26, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Not as far as I know, but I wouldn't be at all surprised.

At 8:53 am, January 26, 2006, Blogger Hadyn said...

There is an urban density issue with this as well (urban density may not be the term but it's early in the morning as I'm writing this).

Which socio-economic group tend to own older cars? Ok. Now, which socio-economic group tends to live further from where they work?

Seeing a trend? Higher density living (and cheaper) would make this a little easier. Personally I would tax the SUVs (when did we stop calling them 4WDs?) off the road (with tax-breaks for contractors etc who actually need them).

A tax on older cars would be stupid as it would hit all of those National-voting classic car owners, whose cars probably have better efficiency anyway due to constant maintenence.

Sorry Tom, I should probably keep my rants to my own blog. Nice work in picking up on the self-service of Mr Kerr

At 11:45 am, January 26, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Density and transport issues are certainly interrelated. I'm not sure about your linking "older cars" with "National-voting classic car owners": the target seems to be second-hand Japanese imports.

In another recent press release, Mr Kerr attacked the emissions-testing scheme as not being tough enough:

"A simple visual test for smoke emissions might be better than nothing at all, but it cannot possibly address the whole cocktail of emissions, many of which are invisible," said Perry Kerr, CEO of the MIA. "We're killing 400 people a year through vehicle emissions, the same number that die due to road crashes, yet the Government refuses to adopt a responsible approach to the situation."

So what makes Mr Kerr so concerned about public health? He identifies high emissions with imported older vehicles, which of course are not what his members sell. When he warns of NZ becoming "the dumping ground for other countries' environmental problems", you could translate that as "the dumping ground for cheap second hand vehicles that compete with the expensive new cars that we're trying to sell".

He may have a point about older cars causing more pollution, but don't mistake the MIA's utterances for environmental consciousness: he's protecting the interests of his members.

At 7:24 pm, January 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you really want to rid yourself of 4WDs, Hadyn, taxs and rebates are a costly and inefficient way of doing so. Not only that, but the Remuera Tractor brigade - you know, the Mums roaring through your suburban side streets in small trucks at dangerous speeds - would eat the cost, anyway.

There's an easy route: make large, truck-based 4WDs (Land Cruisers, Land Rovers, et al) require the Class 2 license they damn well should, anyway. Farmers and tradespeople who need 4WDs will already have a class 2. Off-roading enthusiasts wll grumble a little and get one anyway. The Remuera Tractor brigade will have a hissy fit and go back to putting their incompetant wives in Volvos and BCSD husbands in Commodores.

At 7:27 pm, January 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

tom: I'm old enough to remember what New Zealand's roads looked like when there were no imports, and we lived on a trickle of whatever a handful of licensed importers cared to supply us with whatever they deemed fit.

I am quite confident that I am correct when I say Jap imports have been the single biggest driver in the improvement of car-related pollution in the country with the possible exception of moving to unleaded petrol. Which we couldn't have pre-import because we were all stuck driving 20 year old cars that couldn't have coped with unleaded.


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