Environment Forum

from Raw Japan:

Mercedes? No thanks, I’ll take a hybrid

VOLKSWAGEN-LAW/“I hope the next three months will be better for you than the last three," Czech ambassador Jaromir Novotny told a gathering of Japanese car importers last month.

The way things are going, he'll be hoping against hope.

In April, Japan introduced an “eco-car” tax incentive that has left all foreign car brands such as Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, neatly outside the fence of eligibility.

It’s the last thing they need in a market that’s already full of quirks that make life difficult for non-Japanese car brands: the existence of a huge and unique 660cc microcar segment, convoluted recycling laws and stringent regulations against what type of materials can be used in fuel tanks, to name just a few.

No one is complaining about incentivising low-emission cars. But what rankles outsiders is that the perks are based on an outdated fuel economy testing method that critics say is a poor reflection of real-life driving.

“It’s so far from reality that we never bothered to tune our cars to get good readings under this method,” an executive at a European carmaker told me. “And now they’ve hit us with this eco-car tax and even if we wanted to make the adjustments, it would take us until next year to be ready.”

Drivers say Honda hybrid doesn’t go that extra mile-court

Green car owners have apparently complained in such large numbers that the Honda Civic Hybrid isn’t living up to high mileage claims that the carmaker has approached U.S. government regulators about revising its mileage guidelines, according to a lawsuit by one Honda hybrid owner.

A California appellate opinion filed on Monday showed that a Honda customer service representative told Gaetano Paduano, the dissatisfied owner of a 2004 Honda hybrid, that the company had received “a high number of complaints” that the sedan achieves significantly less than its promised mileage of 47-plus miles per gallon.

The rep also told Paduano that the company and rival Toyota have approached the U.S. EPA to change the mileage rating on their hybrid cars, the opinion said.

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