Hong Kong's motor traders want the government to give them two more months to clear their stock of green cars before a more stringent rule on tax concessions comes into force in April.
They blamed environmental officials for being late in giving them the new emission requirements calling for more stringent hydrocarbon emissions and better fuel efficiency.
The traders said the revised criteria will knock all but 26 cars out of the list of vehicles eligible for the tax concession. Cars meeting the green rules will get a 45 per cent, or up to HK$75,000, reduction in the first registration fee. The decrease in eligible models is the largest since the tax break was offered in 2007.
But under the new rules, all of Audi's cars will be among the 139 models not be eligible for the concession. Traders said car buyers might have to wait until local dealers and distributors can source more cars that can meet the new criteria.
Got Chong-key, chairman of the Motor Traders Association of Hong Kong, said they have written to the Director of Environmental Protection requesting the two-month grace period.
He said both parties had mutually agreed that there should be a six-month advance notice of any change in the criteria. But the traders were notified of the new criteria only on December 10 last year.
Officials had earlier flagged the more stringent criteria to the traders. "Officials told us that there were too many environmental friendly cars, and it would have an impact on the tax revenue of the government," he said.
In 2008, there were just 21 eligible car models and the number rose to 46 in 2010.
Got said they should be allowed time to clear the stock as some members had continued to place orders from manufacturers or distributors in October and November. "What we are asking now is that these cars should continue to enjoy the tax break until the end of May as there is a delay of two months," he said.
Got said the traders supported the more stringent criteria as it would result in better air quality as the nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbon emissions would be slashed by about a half.
A spokesman for the Environment Protection Department said it was examining if the association's demand was justified.