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Toyota New Zealand is on a pathway to lowering its fleet’s emissions and preparing for a zero-carbon future as recommended by the Productivity Commission’s final report on a low emissions economy.
“The actions our business has already started taking, demonstrate our commitment to action on climate change,” says Alistair Davis, the CEO of Toyota New Zealand. “We take our responsibilities to the environment seriously.”
The Productivity Commission’s report – released on Tuesday 4 September - is expected to provide recommendations and the framework for a Zero Carbon Act to go before Parliament.
Toyota is supporting the Commission’s call for a comprehensive, predictable climate change policy that has bipartisan support across the political spectrum, says Mr Davis.
“Action on climate change can be a competitive advantage,” says Mr Davis, who pointed to its increasing sales of fuel and carbon saving hybrid electric vehicles to the New Zealand market.
The just launched all-new Corolla has more hybrid model options and early in 2019 Toyota will launch its first hybrid electric SUV, the RAV4. It expects to offer hybrid or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles across its entire model range by 2025.
Mr Davis says it will take several decades for the transport industry, which accounts for nearly 20 per cent of all New Zealand’s carbon emissions, to significantly reduce its footprint, but the signs are positive.
“Our parent company has a long-term plan by 2050 to reduce emissions from its fleet and activities worldwide by 90 per cent. That will directly help our efforts here.”
Mr Davis said the high proportion of renewable electricity in New Zealand means the conversion of the national fleet to electric and hybrid vehicles will play a crucial role in meeting the commitment of the transport and motor industry to reducing CO2 emissions.
“There are a number of ways to encourage the nation’s fleet to move to low emissions, taking into account the large number of second hand import vehicles registered here for the first time.”
A feebate scheme that charges high emission vehicles and rewards low emissions would encourage suppliers and consumers to adopt lower emission vehicles irrespective of whether they are New Zealand new or second-hand imports. This could be complemented by a maximum age for imported vehicles, as the older the vehicle, the more emissions it produces.
Mr Davis says fuel pricing was another option as history has shown when fuel becomes more expensive, consumers buy more fuel-efficient vehicles.
“Toyota believes a target percentage for the light non-fossil fuel vehicle fleet should be set as a trigger point for when the Government would consider a date for phasing out of fossil fuel vehicles with plans and policies to encourage it.”
Global production of electric vehicles is still limited says Mr Davis and the technology has to be more affordable, to encourage broader uptake, so setting a date now would be premature.
Road pricing will be necessary in the future to compensate for the fall in fuel tax revenue to maintain and build new roads for the growing population.
New Zealand needed to encourage a greater scrappage rate of old vehicles which produce more emissions, as the rate has dropped with their greater reliability, he says.
“These are difficult choices to shift New Zealand to a low emissions economy,” says Mr Davis. “Social equity and fairness issues will have to be addressed. This will take decades and needs political consensus and long-term commitment from the Government and the motor industry to be successful."