Encourage drivers to switch to greener cars

As vehicle prices remain high, more drivers are choosing to revalidate their vehicles' COEs. If this trend continues, there will be more older vehicles on the road that do not comply with the new emission standards.
As vehicle prices remain high, more drivers are choosing to revalidate their vehicles' COEs. If this trend continues, there will be more older vehicles on the road that do not comply with the new emission standards.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

It was reported that the Government is reviewing the Carbon Emissions-based Vehicle Scheme to consider not only carbon dioxide emissions, but also other pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and particulate matter ("Vehicle carbon emissions scheme under review"; Jan 4).

Singapore will also be adopting the latest Euro 6 emission standards from September.

However, these standards apply only to new registrations.

As car prices remain high, many car owners are choosing to revalidate their vehicles' certificates of entitlement (COEs).

Last year, from January to October, more than 38,000 COEs were revalidated, up from about 26,000 in the whole of 2015.

Of the revalidated COEs, a significant number are for commercial vehicles, which are responsible for more than half of emissions from vehicles.

If this trend continues, we could see a sizeable number of older vehicles plying our roads and which are not affected by the changes in emission standards.

This is contradictory to our plans to improve air quality and build a greener environment.

Perhaps additional surcharges or regulatory measures could be considered to discourage the revalidation of COEs for 10-year-old cars.

Incentives such as the exemption of Additional Registration Fee and road tax, or COE subsidies could also be given to encourage the take-up of green vehicles like hybrid cars, given that newer imported used vehicles are subject to a $10,000 surcharge today.

Indeed, with little compromise on performance, but marked improvements in fuel efficiency and reduction of nitrogen oxides and fine particulate matter, hybrid technology holds the key to a greener future.

As we strive towards a car-lite Singapore, more progressive steps can be considered to help move us towards a low-emissions environment and a fleet of cleaner and greener vehicles.

Yeo Kah Wee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2017, with the headline 'Encourage drivers to switch to greener cars'. Print Edition | Subscribe