• Media release

    10 May 2023

    New vehicle air pollution ratings help clear the air

    In response to recent research on the health impacts from vehicle emissions, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has today published improved air pollution ratings for vehicles on the Rightcar website.

    “For the first time, using independent and peer-reviewed expertise, we have been able to incorporate health-based data into the air pollution ratings for vehicles in New Zealand,’’ says Lisa Rossiter, Waka Kotahi Senior Manager Environment and Sustainability.

    “We know people weigh up many factors when buying a vehicle, from safety to fuel efficiency to price point. This new rating also provides people with easy-to-understand information about the impact a vehicle they’re considering purchasing may have on their health, and that of others.

    “We hope these new ratings will make it easier for people to consider choosing a vehicle that is safe, environmentally friendly and contributes to cleaner, healthier air for all New Zealanders.”

    Clean air is fundamental to human health. Evidence from the Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand (HAPINZ 3.0) study details the health impacts of nitrogen dioxide emitted from vehicles, particularly diesel vehicles.

    The HAPINZ research, published in July 2022, indicates that even exposure to low levels of vehicle pollution can be harmful, contributing to the premature deaths of more than 2,200 New Zealanders every year, and over 13,000 cases of asthma in children.

    Air pollution, carbon emissions and fuel efficiency ratings make up a vehicle’s environmental ratings on Rightcar, which sit alongside the safety ratings.

    “These upgraded air pollution ratings and the recently revised vehicle safety ratings are important steps towards ensuring New Zealanders can make more informed vehicle choices,” says Lisa Rossiter.

    “Together, these ratings can help protect our health and keep us safe on the road, saving lives.”

    The HAPINZ 3.0 research was used to refine the methodology used to develop the new air pollution ratings. By taking the emissions standard of the vehicle when it was manufactured and matching available real-world test results for each vehicle type, the emissions-related health impacts are estimated. A rating from 1 star to 6 stars is applied to the results. For example, electric vehicles produce no exhaust emissions and score 6 stars, and other vehicles get fewer stars depending on the health impacts of their emissions.

    Visit: www.rightcar.govt.nz

    Notes to the editor:

    • The difference between carbon emissions and air pollution from vehicles is that carbon emissions relate primarily to carbon dioxide, which cause climate change, while air pollution is mainly nitrogen dioxide from vehicle exhausts – these harmful particles or gases enter the air that we breathe, impacting our health.
    • The HAPINZ 3.0 report is available at https://environment.govt.nz/publications/health-and-air-pollution-in-new-zealand-2016-findings-and-implications
    • In addition to environmental emissions and safety ratings information, the Rightcar website also hosts Clean Car Discount information, which relates to carbon emissions.

    We have a vision of zero deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand roads. Learn more about:

    For more information please contact

    Andrew Knackstedt – Media Manager
    Phone: 04 894 6285
    Mobile: 021 276 3222
    Email: [email protected]
    Website: nzta.govt.nz