29 Jan 2021

Used car importers say new standards will be ineffective

From Nine To Noon, 9:30 am on 29 January 2021

Importers of second-hand cars say clean car standards announced by the government yesterday will be both costly and ineffective.

Car importers will be required to bring in more fuel-efficient cars to reduce overall emissions and will face penalties if they don’t. The Government intends to pass legislation later this year to come into effect next year.

Critics say the penalties will cost some firms millions of dollars and consumers will foot the bill.

AUCKLAND - MAY 22 2016:May new cars on Captain Cook Wharf in Ports of Auckland.In 2012, New Zealand imported 173,000 motor vehicles, mainly from Japan

Photo: 123RF

David Vinsen, chief executive of VIA, the Imported Motor Vehicle Industry Association, tells Kathryn Ryan they were expecting the announcement given the government hadn’t done anything material about meeting the Paris Agreement on climate targets.

Vinsen says the new target is far too steep of a gradient and will be restrictive to importers and consumers and doesn’t address the real problem.

“There is no mechanism or suggestion for dealing with the fleet that we currently have, which is where the problems really are.

People go out and buy a cheap car, or a vehicle they can afford, and they are nowhere near as fuel efficient as vehicles which are coming into the fleet. They’re nowhere near as safe.”

While people don’t necessarily need to go to an import dealer to buy their car, Vinsen says there will be a knock-on effect for people seeking cheaper cars on marketplaces like Trade Me.

“You won’t be the only person doing it, there will be a lot of people doing it. What we’ve seen in the past, it’s just supply and demand, the price for those vehicles automatically starts going up.”

Vinsen says that, with increasing prices, there’s more incentive for people to keep their older, less fuel efficient, and less safe vehicles on the road for longer periods of time.

“When people get work done for a Warrant of Fitness (WOF) and the person thinks the car $500 or $600, it’s hardly worth doing. But, when the car is worth $2000 or $3000 because of the demand for it, they do the work.

“Although, on the surface, controlling and limiting vehicles that come into the fleet is an easy fix, the reality is we’ll end up with a much older fleet where people will hold onto their cars for longer and recycle them among themselves.”