Focus on green new cars 'foolish', analyst warns

DATE: 2007.11.24


Focus on green new cars 'foolish', analyst warns


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 per cent of passenger cars built 15 years ago still on the road, and this is bad news for the environment, Dennis DesRosiers reported Wednesday.

He calculates that as recently as 2000 only 28 per cent 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 up 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. "There's $147 million that they've earmarked for this debacle. . . . I think they're probably still celebrating in Toyota City on the shop floors there from this program, because they're getting subsidies from Canadian auto workers.''

Masse said the feebate should be scrapped and turned around to encourage vehicle replacement. "We do not want penalties - we want incentives,'' perhaps a refund of GST for motorists who scrap elderly vehicles and buy new ones.

The overall longevity trend is "negative for the environment, negative for new vehicle manufacturers, negative for the government - and most immediately, positive for the average Canadian vehicle owner,'' DesRosiers wrote.

"Older vehicles are the least fuel-efficient and highest-polluting users of the road,'' he points out. "A current model year vehicle emits 98 per cent less toxins into the air than a vehicle bought 15 years ago.''

better beaters

TORONTO - The proportion of passenger cars 11 to 15 years old still in use averages 60.6 per cent across the industry but varies widely: Porsche 98.7%

Volvo 87.2%

Lexus 83.8%

BMW 83.6%

Mercedes-Benz 82.6%

Jaguar 81.4%

Toyota 78.2%

Audi 76.5%

Honda 76.5%

Acura 75.9%

Cadillac 74.6%

Lincoln 72.8%

Saab 72.2%

Saturn 69.2%

Buick 68.8%

Chrysler 68.8%

Oldsmobile 67.2%

Infiniti 65.8%

Mazda 64.8%

Volkswagen 63.1%

Nissan 61.0%

Subaru 59.1%

Mercury 54.9%

Dodge 54.6%

Pontiac 53.6%

Ford 53.6%

Plymouth 52.5%

Eagle 51.6%

Chevrolet 48.6%

Hyundai 32.8%

Suzuki 30.8%

Isuzu 19.8%

Lada 5.1%