THE Land Transport Authority (LTA) is reviewing a scheme that rewards or penalises motorists based on the amount of carbon dioxide their cars emit.
The carbon emissions-based vehicle scheme (CEVS), which was introduced on Jan 1 last year and is slated to run till June 30 next year, has been criticised for being lax, biased and ineffective.
Cars with low carbon emissions receive rebates of between $5,000 and $20,000, which are offset against the vehicle's Additional Registration Fee (ARF). But motorists have complained this lowers the residual cost of the car.
Cars with high carbon emissions pay a registration surcharge of between $5,000 and $20,000.
Motor traders said the main beneficiaries have been sellers of European makes with small-capacity turbocharged direct-injection engines.
Experts have also questioned the effectiveness of CEVS in reducing air pollution.
Asian Clean Fuels Association executive director Clarence Woo said: "You can lower CO2 and yet not lower pollutants such as particulate matter."
Since Singapore plans to adopt the Euro 6 emission standard, which specifies a big reduction in pollutants such as fine particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, the CEVS could be refined towards meeting this objective, he said.
LTA met motor industry representatives on Tuesday to inform them of the review and gather feedback. The Straits Times understands several industry players have suggested rewards be delinked from ARF.
One dealer, who did not want to be named, said: "Often, dealers use the CEVS rebate to fatten their own margin."
LTA would not comment on what changes it is considering. "We will share more details once the review is completed," a spokesman said.
Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport chairman Cedric Foo said road tax is based on engine size, which is a proxy for the amount of pollution a car causes.
"It would be good if we can extract the pollution element and build it into the CEVS," he said, adding that pollution should not be confined to CO2.
National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der Horng agreed: "The current CEVS may send a wrong message that the higher the rebate, the more environmentally-friendly a car is."
Motorist Leslie Chia, 49, said the CEVS in its current format is an "oxymoron".
"You give a rebate, but you also reduce the scrap value of the car," the businessman said. "So actual savings as a percentage of car cost are insignificant."
Motorists suggest tying rebates and penalties to road tax or income tax.
Observers said the current scheme is not stringent enough as nearly two-thirds of new cars qualify for it. According to LTA, the CEVS has cost the Government about $62 million to date - nearly double the amount originally expected.
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