Emission rules drive NZ car prices up

Kiwis are paying more for used cars than they did last year as new emission standards push the price of imports up, car dealer Turners Auctions says.

The company says the average price of a used car for the first half of the year was nine per cent higher than the same period last year, according to its sales figures.

However it says prices have softened in the last six months as supply overtakes demand.

The average price of cars with mid-sized 1.3 to 2.1 litre engines - accounting for just over half of Turners' sales - increased 13 per cent year on year to $6806.

Chief operating officer Todd Hunter said new emissions standards - which came into effect in January and mean most Japanese cars manufactured before 2005 cannot be imported - were partly to blame.

''As import age has decreased, prices have inevitably gone up."

The company had also sold more ex-rental vehicles in the half-year, which were popular and typically newer than most imports.

But Kiwi car buyers had swallowed the worst of the price increase, he said. New car sales were up this year, which increased the pool of used cars for sale.

"There's a bit more supply than there is actual demand, which always results in a softening of prices."

The average price of cars in the 1.3 to 1.6 litre engine category increased 15 per cent year on year to $6648.

The average price of smaller cars - with 1.3 litre engines or smaller - rose by nine per cent, while the price of cars with 2 litre-plus engines lifted six per cent.

New Zealand Transport Agency figures show registrations of imported used cars totalled 6641 in July, down 1.15 per cent year-on-year but up 7.4 per cent on June.

Hunter said the overall used car market was "pretty stable", with changes of ownership up 1.73 per cent in the year ending July.