Tesla says big car makers using disproved arguments to fight NZ carbon targets

Tesla big car New Zealand

Tesla has told MPs that big car manufacturers are rehashing old and disproved arguments to try to persuade them to water down the Government’s proposed Clean Car Standard.

A new law designed to slash the greenhouse gas emissions of new and used imported vehicles is currently being considered by Parliament’s Transport and Infrastructure select committee.

Ford, Hyundai, Nissan, Mazda and Toyota have all advised the committee recommend relaxing the targets, saying the current proposal would see New Zealand “leap-frog” Europe in cutting emissions by 2027 and is not realistic.

But EV company Tesla said in a written submission that the EU was likely to tighten its own targets before then, and the targets set out in the Clean Car Standard were “modest and reasonable” in an international context.

“Legacy automakers” had told governments all over the world that they wouldn’t be able to meet emissions reduction targets and had made the same argument in New Zealand, it said.

But Tesla said that was based on unrealistically pessimistic assumptions they were putting forward to discourage New Zealand from enacting bold policies that would drive change.

It described moves by the large car manufacturers to embrace EVs as tepid.

“They just need to choose to make the investment – and if they won’t do it for the environment, then government incentives from countries around the world, like the policies in this bill, will encourage them to do it.”

The fact that the average emissions of vehicles imported into New Zealand had fallen by 15 per cent between June and September, after the separate ‘feebate’ scheme was enacted, “disproves modelling from legacy automakers that claims only a gradual decrease in emissions can be achieved”, Tesla said.

To fully decarbonise transport by 2050, the world needed stop selling combustion-engine vehicles by about 2030 in most places, it said.

“The sooner countries stop bringing high-emissions vehicles with a 20-year lifespan into their national fleets, the quicker we will reach that future.”

Tesla recommended that instead of relaxing the proposed targets, the select committee should recommend toughening-up the financial penalties on car importers that failed to meet them.

The proposed penalties on new cars that exceeded the emissions target were considerably less than those applied in Europe, while even further discounted penalties on higher-emission second-hand cars were “just too low to drive behavioural change”, it said.

Importers that exceeded the emissions target by an average of 20 per cent in 2023 would only pay $650 per second-hand vehicle and $1300 for each new car, it said.

The select committee is due to complete its report on the proposed legislation by September 2.

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