The B.C. government is shifting gears on the AirCare program with a plan to phase out tailpipe testing of light cars and trucks at the end of 2014 and turn its attention to heavy-duty diesel vehicles.

Environment Minister Terry Lake said Thursday that newer cars run much cleaner now than the vehicles being made when AirCare started in 1992.

AirCare statistics show that when the program began in 1992, just 69.5 per cent of vehicles met the emission standards and passed the test. That increased to nearly 82 per cent by 2001 and by 2011, nearly 88 per cent passed. 

Lake said the transportation and environment ministries will work to identify other classes of vehicles that haven't been covered by AirCare and find ways to reduce their emissions.

The Metro Vancouver regional district passed a bylaw in January aimed at reducing emissions from backhoes, excavators, forklifts and other diesel-powered machines.

Drivers of newer cars currently pay $46 to have their cars tested through AirCare every two years while older vehicles are tested every year for $23.

AirCare costs about $19 million to run each year.

With files from the CBC's Stephen Smart