Only one European petrol engine car will make it to the list of cars eligible for the green tax break, the environmental regulator announced yesterday.
A total of 113 models now enjoying the tax break will be removed from the list, leaving only 26 models. All are Japanese-made except one.
There are nine models from Toyota, including its hybrid Prius V; seven from Nissan, five from Honda, two from Mazda, one from Lexus and one from Suzuki.
The only European model eligible for the concession is BMW's 520i Touring EfficientDynamics.
Cars meeting the emissions standards and fuel efficiency benchmark set by the Environmental Protection Department are now entitled to up to 45 per cent rebate of the first registration tax, or no more than HK$75,000.
But as stricter standards will be introduced from April 1, the number of eligible models has been significantly reduced.
Apart from petrol cars, the department also announced that 185 models of commercial vehicles will be eligible for a reduction of between 30 and 100 per cent of the first registration fee.
The change means the eligible models will shrink by 67 per cent from the current 567. It is expected that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying will announce in his maiden policy address a subsidy scheme to phase out old diesel trucks. Their owners can choose to replace their vehicles with green ones.
The department said they wanted to make sure that only cars with outstanding emission standards can get the concession as technology has advanced.
"It can also reduce the incentive for private car ownership and contribute to a reduction in roadside air pollution," an EPD spokesman said.
In 2011, the government increased the tax break from 35 to 45 per cent in exchange for support in raising the tax rate to suppress vehicle growth.
In the first 18 months after the increase, about 10,000 concessions were given, costing the government HK$295 million.
This number grew to nearly 25,000 in the next 18 months, and tax revenue forgone was three times more, at HK$1.3 billion.
However, the private car numbers continued to grow, to 450,497 by October 2012 from 434,843 at the end of 2011.
In addition to the registration tax, the government also offered tax deductions for companies buying green vehicles from 2010.
A total of 220 applications were approved at a cost to revenue of HK$1.67 billion.