A reliable source has exclusively told Harbour Times that the Environment Protection Department (EPD) has at last held long postponed meetings with the vehicle manufacturing industry to announce the 2015 qualifying standards for the Environment Friendly Commercial Vehicles (EFV) scheme for commercial vehicles eligible for a tax discount.
The proposed update to the scheme, to be implemented in April, will allegedly introduce Euro VI as the new standard to qualify for tax discount. According to the source, there were “positive signs” the EPD also will push legislation to mandate Euro VI standard for commercial vehicles in the next legislative year. The EPD confirmed to HT that the meeting was held recently and that the Government has made such proposals.
The recent meeting was held approximately ten days ago, when the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) held a meeting with members of the Motor Trade Association of Hong Kong (MTA). According to the source, the EPD proposed that Euro VI will be made the EFV qualifying standard for all commercial vehicles (e.g. buses, trucks, heavy vans) starting in April. All vehicles qualified as EFVs will thus receive cuts to the First Registration Tax (FRT) at various rates depending on the weight of the vehicle. Cuts in the current scheme ranges from HK$8,000 to HK$78,000, depending on the vehicle classification.
Mr Johnson Li, Secretary General of the MTA, said he believed the EPD’s proposal was “reasonably fair”. On whether he thought the proposal would give any advantage to European commercial vehicles, especially against Japanese standards that follow a different system, he said, “Many Japanese brands have begun adopting the Euro VI standard already – besides, the Government also takes into account equivalent standards in the Japanese system.”
“Many Japanese brands have begun adopting the Euro VI standard already…”
At the meeting, representatives from the EPD also allegedly reiterated their desire to push Euro VI as the mandated standard for all newly imported commercial vehicles in the 2015-2016 legislative year. MTA’s Mr Li said the announcement was “anticipated”. A representative from the EPD said, “We have always told the industry that we plan to push the Euro VI standard in 2016. Our concern is whether there may be enough supply of such vehicles available.” The representative suggested the EPD will push forward consultations with manufacturers and various stakeholders before formally announcing a plan to legislate Euro VI standards.
In past years, the EPD always held consultation meetings with the MTA in October or November to announce new standards for the EFV scheme, before the updates would be implemented in April the next year. HT broke the news in December last year, revealing that the relationship between the EPD and motor trade industry players had been strained after the EPD unilaterally deferred the meetings.
The EPD representative stated that an official confirmation for the changes to the EFV scheme for commercial vehicles should be announced any day now as April beckons.
According to the source, members did not seem to protest against the proposal or the suggestion that the EPD would push for Euro VI legislation. The source did reveal that industry members complained that the announcement was made on such short notice, only two months before the implementation. Volkswagen’s Thorsten Jaede told HT in December, “Any policy change should be announced latest in November to give the industry some lead time to adjust production.”
The next step
Similar consultation meetings with the industry members on the EFV scheme for private vehicles will likely be held within this month. The source does not expect Euro VI to be made the qualifying standard for private vehicles, citing the negligible effect it would have on the environment in petrol vehicles. The EPD representative stated that an official confirmation for the changes to the EFV scheme for commercial vehicles should be announced any day now as April beckons.