Addressing the used vehicles market: potential strategies for importing and exporting countries to improve safety, fuel economy and emissions impacts

Most developing and transition countries do not have vehicle manufacturing capabilities hence rely on import of their entire vehicle fleet. A large percentage of these vehicles are imported as used or second-hand. The global demand for the export of used vehicles from developed countries to developing and transitional countries has grown significantly. The export of vehicles from developed countries is often spurred by stringent vehicle emission standards (along with mandatory motor vehicle inspections and registration/road tax) imposed by their governments. This often makes replacement of in-use vehicles with a newer fleet more attractive. At the same time, and due to increasing income, used vehicles are offering consumers in developing and transitional countries convenient mobility at a lower cost. If properly regulated, used vehicles could also offer these countries relatively advanced vehicle emission reduction technologies that are already required in the exporting countries, presenting a win-win situation for both exporting and importing countries. These used vehicles can be much cleaner and more energy efficient than the existing vehicle stock. Vehicles that meet minimum emission standards in exporting markets, when combined with clean fuels and regular maintenance, have the potential to lower the impact of road transport in terms of CO2 and non-CO2 emissions in all markets. Regulation therefore is key to controlling the quality of used vehicle imports in line with the importing country’s aspirations.