4 Sep 2014

Brown rejects fuel-efficient car options

9:38 am on 4 September 2014

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has rejected more fuel efficient vehicles in choosing his new official car, just weeks after launching a strategy to cut the city's greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr Brown is now onto his third Holden Commodore in seven years - a vehicle with a carbon footprint more than 70 percent bigger than some of the alternatives.

The mayoral office took delivery of the Holden Calais V-Series V6 last month. In July, Mr Brown launched the council's Low Carbon Auckland Action Plan - aimed at cutting greenhouse emissions by 40 percent by 2040.

Cars Fuel Economy rating (stars) Fuel consumption litres/100km EUR pollution rating[/th] CO2 emission (tonnes per year)* Retail Price**
Len Brown's choice: Holden Calais V-Series 3.5 9.3 4 2.89 $66,790
Alternatives: Skoda Superb TSI103 5 5.2 5 1.9 $45,900
Toyota Camry E Hybrid 5 5.2 4 1.67 $50,990
Ford Falcon EcoBoost 4 8.1 4 2.6 $48,840
BMW 730d 5 5.6 5 2.0 $193,700

* Based on 14,000 km per year ** Source: aa.co.nz

Part of the plan encourages the use of more efficient vehicles.

Fairfax Media's group motoring editor Dave Moore said the Holden was neither superbly frugal nor particularly thrifty, and it was not in the vanguard of efficiency. He said there were greener options.

"The Skoda Superb, which is a long wheelbase Czech-built vehicle, and is remarkably fuel efficient - anything from under 5 litres per 100 kilometres, which is nearly half what the Calais will use." He says. "It has better leg room, if a little narrow, and a huge boot"

The mayoral Calais has a carbon footprint 50 percent bigger than the Skoda and 73 percent bigger than Toyota's Hybrid Camry, and both are more than $10,000 cheaper.

Skoda Superb TDI 103 which uses 5.2 litres per 100kms

NOT CHOSEN: Skoda Superb TDI 103 which uses 5.2 litres per 100kms. Photo: RNZ

The mayor defended the choice saying he needs a big car.

"I would like to get myself into an electric car, but I tend to have a number of councillors and community members with me at any one time, and of course I've got a family with three daughters and a grandson so we need a car that is a normal family-type car."

The new mayoral car also falls outside Auckland Council's standard car buying policy which specifies vehicles meeting a European pollution rating of EUR 5 - the Calais' V6 rates EUR 4.

Len Brown's Holden Calais V-Series Mayoral car.

CHOSEN: Holden Calais V-Series V6 which uses 9.3 litres per 100kms. Photo: RNZ

There are exceptions for particular vehicles which have to be fit for their specific purpose.

The mayor's office said despite a thorough investigation, no other vehicle was found to better fit the purpose of carrying up to five adults across the region, and with room to work in the car.

If space is the criteria, the mayor could have opted for a less luxurious Commodore with a slightly more efficient engine.

Of the two upmarket Calais models, the mayoral car is the more expensive but slightly less efficient version. However, it does have a heated driver's seat and more electronic knick-knacks.

Mayoral cars can be a chance to make a political statement. Wellington's green mayor Celia Wade-Brown uses a bicycle, or the council's small electric car.

This will be Len Brown's last Holden Calais. Declining sales of large, less fuel-efficient cars has spelt the end of Australia's car manufacturing industry and in three years the Holden factory will close.