Driving ahead with the Clean Car Standard


Following discussions with vehicle importers, the Government has confirmed the Clean Car Standard will be phased in from 1 December 2022, significantly reducing the CO2 emissions of light vehicles in New Zealand, announced Transport Minister Michael Wood.

“Emissions from our light vehicle fleet are the single largest source of transport emissions in New Zealand, thanks in part to us having some of the most fuel inefficient and emissions intensive vehicles in the OECD,” Michael Wood said.

“This costs Kiwis at the pump and it’s damaging our health and the environment. We need to increase the supply of fuel-efficient vehicles and give New Zealanders more choices in the variety of low and zero emissions vehicles while also doing our bit for global climate change. The Standard will help us do this.

“From 1 January 2023 imported vehicles incur a credit or charge based on CO2 emissions. The phase-in will see the payment of charges deferred until June 2023 to ensure a smooth implementation for the industry. The system encourages importers to bring in a sufficient number of low and zero emission vehicles that attract credits to offset the charges applied to higher emitting vehicles.

“We have heard the request from the industry for a delay, and have work together to confirm a timeframe that balances a successful implementation with the need for action. This short extension gets that balance right,” Michael Wood said.

The Clean Car Standard requires vehicle importers to progressively reduce the CO2 emissions of the light vehicles, both new and used, they bring into New Zealand. This is achieved by setting CO2 targets which get more ambitious year by year.

“The Clean Car Standard will encourage importers to bring in vehicles with lower emissions, that burn less fuel and will stop New Zealand being the dumping ground for the dirtiest vehicles in the world,” Michael Wood said

“This is a scheme aimed at importers, not the general public who will continue to benefit from the Clean Car Discount scheme, which is seeing record numbers of electric vehicles and hybrids being imported and bought by New Zealanders. I regularly hear from importers about how the upcoming introduction of the Clean Car Standard is helping them access cleaner vehicles for the New Zealand market.

“The Standard will complement this work with greater choices for consumers.

“The Clean Car Standard is one of a number of initiatives in the Emissions Reduction Plan to reduce emissions, improving our health, our environment and our wellbeing,” Michael Wood said.


Legislation to enable the phased implementation will be passed this week.

The Clean Car Standard works by providing credits to importers for low or no emission vehicles and imposing charges depending on the CO2 ratings of the vehicles bought into the country.

High-emission vehicles will still be able to be imported but their emissions must be offset by the import of lower-emission ones. If vehicle importers do not import sufficient volumes of low emission vehicles to offset their high emission vehicles charges will apply.

The legislation for the Clean Car Standard was passed in February 2022. The regulations that set formulas for the weight adjustment of targets, specify the types of vehicles excluded and other details related to CO2 accounts can be found here:


The Clean Car Standard covers most light-vehicles being imported into New Zealand, except for mopeds or motorcycles which have been excluded.

More information on the Clean Car Standard can be found: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/vehicles/clean-car-programme/clean-car-standard/


  • 1 December 2022 - all vehicle importers must hold a CO2 account, where the CO2 emission ratings of their vehicles will be recorded. Without this information, vehicles will not be able to complete entry to New Zealand and be registered.
  • 1 January 2023 - the CO2 emission ratings of vehicles start to count towards the achievement of the CO2 targets. For vehicle importers complying on a “pay-as-you-go” basis, each vehicle will incur a charge, or a credit, based on its CO2 emissions. Credits can be used to offset charges or be transferred to other importers.
  • 1 June 2023 – charges to be paid and credits can be transferred from this date.