Expert says feds ignoring 'old smokers'

PUBLICATION: The Calgary Sun
DATE: 2007.11.23
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Automarket
PAGE: FA12
BYLINE: CP
DATELINE: TORONTO
TYPE : Supplement
WORD COUNT: 183

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Expert says feds ignoring 'old smokers'

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A political focus on making new cars greener is "foolish" when most emissions belch from a swelling fleet of "old smokers," Canada's best-known auto industry analyst declares.

Vehicles are lasting dramatically longer than even a few years ago, with 43% of passenger cars built 15 years ago still on the road, and this is bad news for the environment, said Dennis DesRosiers.

He calculates that as recently as 2000 only 28% of passenger cars purchased 15 years previously were still being operated, and the rapid rise in survival rates profoundly affects "the most important issue facing the auto sector today: Climate change."

The DesRosiers commentary points to the "scandal" of the federal government's feebate system to encourage Canadians to buy more fuel-efficient new cars, said NDP auto critic Brian Masse.

The program -- rebates of as much as $2,000 on specific fuel-efficient vehicles and levies of up to $4,000 on gas guzzlers -- "is not working; it's been very much a meddling bill," Masse said from Ottawa.

Masse said the feebate should be scrapped and turned around to encourage vehicle replacement.

"A current model year vehicle emits 98 percent less toxins into the air than a vehicle bought 15 years ago," DesRosiers pointed out.

"I think it rather foolish for any politician to target the already highly fuel-efficient and very environmentally friendly new vehicles."