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LCQ12: Measures to promote the use of environment-friendly commercial vehicles

     Following is a question by the Hon Frankie Yick and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, in the Legislative Council today (February 17):


     To improve roadside air quality and safeguard public health, the Government has implemented the Tax Incentives Scheme for Environment-friendly Commercial Vehicles (the Scheme) since April 2008 to encourage vehicle owners to switch to commercial vehicles with better emission performance (environment-friendly commercial vehicles or EFCVs).  The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) reviews the qualifying standards of EFCVs annually, and the new qualifying standards will become effective in April of the following year.  Vehicles complying with the latest qualifying standards are eligible for tax concession.  However, some members of the transport industry have pointed out that as the EPD has updated the qualifying standards too rapidly and too frequently, only a few choices of EFCV models (particularly for heavy duty vehicles) were available (usually only models manufactured in Europe) in the market each time when the new qualifying standards were implemented.  Moreover, the relevant ancillary arrangements are also inadequate (e.g. vehicle manufacturers have not opened up to vehicle repair workshops the technology and information necessary for the repair of such vehicles).  As such, members of the transport industry have been giving a lukewarm response to the Scheme, resulting in substantially reduced efficacy of the Scheme.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) in each fiscal year since the implementation of the Scheme, of the number of EFCVs in respect of which the Government has granted tax concession, the percentage of such number in the relevant number of newly registered vehicles in the year, and the total amount of tax concession granted, with a breakdown by the prevailing qualifying standards and class of vehicles (including light goods vehicles, medium goods vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, private buses, non-franchised buses, taxis and special purpose vehicles);

(2) apart from technological advancements in the automobile industry and the existing statutory emission standards applicable to newly registered vehicles, of the factors, data and indicators based on which EPD determines whether the qualifying standards should be further upgraded;

(3) given that some members of the transport industry have indicated that, in terms of performance and price, vehicles manufactured in Japan can better meet the operational needs of small and medium sized logistics companies than those manufactured in Europe, whether the EPD will consider upgrading the qualifying standards only when a certain number of choices of European and Japanese models for various classes of commercial vehicles are available in the market; if the EPD will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(4) given that some members of the transport industry have relayed that as the Government does not require vehicle agents to open up to vehicle repair workshops the technology and information necessary for the repair of EFCVs, the repair of all such vehicles has to be left in the hands of repair workshops which are related to the vehicle agents, and since the repair fees charged by such workshops are relatively higher and they also take a longer time to complete the repair work, the difficulties faced by members of the industry in their operation are further aggravated, whether the Government will consider following the practices of advanced countries to require vehicle manufacturers to open up, immediately upon the introduction of a new generation of vehicles, the technology and information necessary for the repair of such vehicles, to prevent the vehicle repair trade from being monopolised; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     Exhaust emissions from commercial vehicles (including goods vehicles, non-franchised buses, light buses and taxis) are the main sources of our roadside air pollution in Hong Kong.  According to the Environmental Protection Department's (EPD) estimates in 2013, respirable suspended particulates (RSP) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from commercial vehicles accounted for about 85 per cent and 75 per cent of the total vehicular emissions in Hong Kong respectively.  The EPD has upgraded the statutory exhaust emission standards for newly registered commercial vehicles to Euro V since June 2012.

     Since April 1, 2008, the EPD has been encouraging vehicle owners to buy environment-friendly commercial vehicles (EFCVs) with exhaust emissions that out-perform the prevailing statutory emission standards through the Tax Incentives Scheme for Environment-friendly Commercial Vehicles (the Scheme).  Vehicle suppliers can also introduce more EFCV models into our local market.  In April 2015, the EPD tightened the qualifying standard of heavy duty vehicles (design weight more than 3.5 tonnes) to Euro VI under the Scheme.  As at February 11, 2016, the number of Euro VI diesel heavy duty vehicle models grew from 130 before the tightening to about 180.  We have also noticed that vehicle manufacturers other than European ones are preparing to supply their Euro VI diesel heavy duty vehicles to Hong Kong. Thus, upgrading the qualifying standards of EFCVs can help increase the supply of these vehicles and create favourable conditions for subsequently tightening the statutory emission standards for newly registered vehicles.

     My specific responses to the questions are as follows:

(1) From April 2008 to the end of December 2015, the Scheme approved about 39 500 EFCVs, representing about 48 per cent of newly registered commercial vehicles during the period. The first registration tax forgone is about $1.1 billion.  Detailed statistics are in Annex 1 and Annex 2 respectively.

(2) The qualifying standards are subject to annual review by the EPD in the light of the latest vehicle technological advancement and the prevailing statutory emission standards for newly registered vehicles.  This is to ensure that the incentive is made available only to vehicles of outstanding environmental performance outstripping the prevailing statutory requirements. If tightened, the new qualifying standards will come into effect on April 1.

(3) The Scheme can facilitate vehicle suppliers to early introduce EFCVs to the local market.  When there are sufficient vehicle models outstripping the prevailing statutory emission standards on the market, we will consider tightening the statutory emission standards for newly registered vehicles to that level.  Moreover, we will not consider the origin of the vehicles when setting the qualifying standards of EFCVs.  Any commercial vehicle that can meet the qualifying standards is eligible for the first registration tax concession regardless of their country of origin.  This arrangement will help encouraging local vehicle suppliers introducing as soon as possible EFCVs from different places and help improving our roadside air quality and protecting public health.

(4) The EPD has been collaborating with the Vocational Training Council (VTC), vehicle suppliers and vehicle repair trade in organising seminars with a view to assisting the vehicle repair trade to upgrade their vehicle maintenance techniques.  Pro-Act Training and Development Centre (Automobile) of VTC has also been offering relevant courses to train vehicle mechanics in maintaining new vehicles, such as Euro V and VI ones.  In 2015, we organised three seminars with a total turnout of about 700 participants. The Hong Kong Commercial Vehicle Maintenance Association had also found such seminars helpful for the trade in upgrading its vehicle maintenance techniques.

     In addition, the European Union (EU) has implemented the Euro VI emission standard since 2013 in which the relevant regulations require vehicle manufacturers to make available vehicle maintenance information to the public at a reasonable cost.  Currently, most of the vehicle manufacturers are providing such information to their clients through their websites.  The EPD is now working on to tighten the statutory emission standards for newly registered vehicles to Euro VI level, and will follow the EU practice to include such provisions in the regulation.  The EPD will also continue to collaborate with VTC, vehicle suppliers, the vehicle repair trade and transport trade to organise seminars and suitable courses to facilitate the vehicle repair trade in keeping abreast of the latest vehicle maintenance techniques.

Ends/Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Issued at HKT 12:01


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