Industry Update: Clean Car Standard and How it May Affect Motorhomes

electric cars being charged graphic

The New Zealand government has made a commitment to playing our part in reducing the impact of climate change by significantly reducing CO2 emissions. One of their initiatives is to reduce vehicle emissions by incentivising the importation of low emission vehicles.

This emission rebate, labelled the Clean Car Standard, is a target for light vehicles. It progressively lowers the CO2 emissions entering New Zealand over the five years from 2020 to 2025. Vehicle importers are expected to meet the target by importing more electric vehicles (EVs), more hybrids and more fuel efficient vehicles.

We have been keeping a close eye on this legislation to determine what the potential impact on the motorhome industry may be.


What is the Clean Car Standard?

The Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019 requires CO2 to be reduced to net zero by 2050. The Clean Car Standard, released in January 2021, is a CO2 emissions standard for imported new and used light vehicles.

Under the new legislation, vehicles with a high CO2 emission rating would incur a fee - the higher the CO2 rating the greater the fee. For vehicles that are below a set standard, the importer would receive a credit that could be used to offset fees. In this way, importers would be encouraged to bring cleaner cars into New Zealand. For a more detailed explanation of the standard, read this summary from NZTA.


When will the Clean Car Standard take effect?

Legislation to implement the Clean Car Standard was introduced in 2021, with the policy taking effect from 1 April 2022. Any imported vehicle (new or used) which doesn't meet the emission standard after this date will attract a fee at the time the vehicle is registered.

What vehicles are affected by the Clean Car Standard?

The Clean Car Standard focuses on the two-thirds of our transport emissions that come from light vehicles – cars, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), vans, utes and light trucks - up to  3.5 tonnes. Vehicle types that are exempt include military and agricultural (tractors, harvesters, mowers, etc.) vehicles, classic cars, and some old vehicles (over 40 years old). 

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Are motorhomes covered by the Clean Car Standard?

As the standard applies to vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) of 3500 kg or less, many motorhomes will be included.


The New Zealand Rental Vehicle Association (RVA) has recommended to the government, in its submission to the select committee on the Clean Car bill, that motorhomes are excluded from the standard as they are an unintended part of the standard and there is no viable alternative to motorhomes built on an internal combustion engine (ICE).

What are the CO2 emissions of the motorhomes we import?

Most German motorhomes imported into New Zealand have a CO2 emission rating of between 316 and 388 g/km. This information is included in the Certificate of Compliance (supplied by the manufacturer) which is required for registering a vehicle in New Zealand.


How will the Clean Car Standard affect owners of motorhomes?

The Clean Car Standard will not affect existing owners of motorhomes, even if their motorhome is classified as a light vehicle. That's because the fee will be levied on the importers of newly imported vehicles. 


How will the Clean Car Standard affect buyers of new motorhomes?

The Clean Car Standard will be levied on importers, not consumers. However, if an importer or dealer decides to pass on this cost to its customers, it may result in higher prices of the affected new vehicles. If you have already purchased a vehicle and are awaiting its delivery, the dealer cannot raise the price to cover their higher costs.


Update 25 February 2022

When this blog was first published in January 2022, we mistakenly said that the Clean Car Standard applies to vehicles with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of less than 3500kg. This is incorrect. We have updated the blog with the correct applicable weight i.e. vehicles with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) 3500kg or less.


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