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Green Zone calls for tax breaks

You can park here: An electric vehicle parking space with charging points.

Green Zone group calls for government incentives including tax, registration breaks

1 Sep 2010

REDUCED or zero road tolls, priority and/or free parking, carbon-output based registration fees and more widespread public transit lane access for LEV (low emission vehicles) are some of the proposals put forward at the launch of the world’s first Green Zone vehicle expo in Melbourne this month.

Invited as a guest speaker, Choice Magazine spokesman Christopher Zinn said that governments on all levels – federal, state and local – supported schemes and introduce financial incentives that encourage new-car buyers to make the greenest choice available.

“Would it be asking too much to see more co-operation between the car-makers and governments (on green issues),” he said.

“When you can give a signal for savings on an everyday basis, that would really help reinforce the green message.

“If you drive around Melbourne looking for a park and you see a whole bank of empty spaces reserved for green vehicles, it is a great incentive (to buy greener next time).

“But it needs very powerful leadership right from the top for it to work – right at the federal government level.”

Mr Zinn suggested car manufacturers and importers introduce more detailed emissions-related information on the windscreen of all new vehicles in much the same way as energy ratings is mandatory on appliances like fridges and dryers.

“With household goods labelling really allows them to drive their purchasing time efficiently, but with cars it is actually much harder – certainly you do get the fuel consumption (label) but it doesn’t seem that people look at that first they look at that last.

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“But it is a complicated area – I would say that manufacturers work towards something that is simple yet very powerful.

“You would have to argue that the energy consumption for cars should be a far bigger factor in the purchase decision than the energy consumption of a fridge – so it should be more than possible to do that for cars – something that clearly states all of its emissions.”

Mr Zinn also recommended that dealerships implement a uniform ‘green space’ so buyers and window shoppers will be able to automatically identify the lowest emission option within the showroom.

“A green line in a certain part of the showroom where the green cars will be (would help) parking incentives will drive this … reduced registration taxes too.”

He applauded the Green Zone organisers (RACV, EPA Victoria and Future Climate Australia are the partners in the LEV Automotive Partnership behind the expo) for trying to raise awareness, educate consumers and canvass issues relating to eco vehicles.

A world-first event of its type, Green Zone will operate a fleet of 20 vehicles from nine manufacturers over seven days starting at the Docklands precinct in Melbourne from Saturday October 2, offering new car buyers free information and a no-obligation test drive with car company representatives.

A Green Zone spokesman said that up to 3500 test-drives would be undertaken during the allocated timeframe.

With support from the Victorian government, it has been an eight-month undertaking, with a view to travel interstate if the Melbourne Green Zone expo proves successful.

“This is a model that will hopefully be picked up by other cities around Australia,” Mr Zinn said.

RACV environmental programs manager Simon Mikedis said that he would like to see participation from more manufacturers and importers next time.

“Timing has been a big issue,” Mr Mikedis said.

“Manufacturers have their budgets and programs in place, so to get in at the latter half of the year has been a challenge. But we also had to limit the number of manufacturers that we could have here – we had to cap it to around ten for it to be a viable first-time event.

“But certainly it is something we would look into to increase next time if we decide to stage this type of event again.”

Mr Mikedis said that the manufacturers at the Green Zone expo – Mitsubishi, Audi, BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Mini, Citroen, Volvo and Toyota – saw it as an opportunity to showcase their LEVs in a separate forum in the lead-up to the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney that will also be staged in October.

“For manufacturers (part of the Green Zone appeal stems from the fact that) we haven’t had the motor show in Melbourne this year.

“There’s also no way known that manufacturers will be able to achieve that many test drives in a week-long period – so it is a relatively cheap way for the car-makers to (get that sort of public exposure).” Mr Mikedis added that Green Zone was talking with motoring groups such as the Australian Automobile Association with the view to taking the travelling road show to other states.

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