Back to the bad old days of used car imports?
New Zealand's used import vehicle trade is on a roll - and the new vehicle industry is moaning about it.
Latest statistics from the Motor Trade Association show sales of both new and used imports in February were the best since 2006.
And while new vehicle sales of 6572 units was 13 per cent up on February last year, they were dramatically overshadowed by used import sales of 9155 units which was a massive 34 per cent up on the same month last year.
MTA spokesman Ian Stronach said the ongoing economic confidence coupled with an ever-growing pool of used vehicles that qualify for import into New Zealand means the used import market is going from strength to strength.
"It's already starting to shade the sales of new vehicles and shows no signs of slackening," he said.
These sales are a continuation of major growth in sales of both new and used vehicles in 2013. Last year there were 113,289 new vehicle sales which was a 12 per cent increase on the year before, and 104,720 used import sales which was up 28 per cent.
But the new vehicle importers aren't happy.
Mazda New Zealand claimed last week that the surge in imports of older used vehicles from Japan is undermining moves to have cleaner and safer cars on New Zealand roads.
Managing director Andrew Clearwater told journalists at a media conference last week that advancements in powertrain technology and a move towards smaller and lighter cars are resulting in a decline in exhaust emission levels in the new car segment. Since 2007 new vehicle emissions levels have dropped 33 per cent.
"So clearly with the rapid deployment of safety and environmentally friendly technology to new vehicles entering the fleet, this strongly supports the Government's direction for safer and cleaner vehicles on New Zealand roads," said Clearwater.
But it was disappointing that with the improvement in the economy and the strength of the dollar, there has been a resurgence of older used imports crossing our borders. These are undermining the responsible approach being taken by the new vehicle sector regarding safety and protection of the environment, he said.
"We believe there needs to be a continuous rolling seven-year age ban on used imports if we are to dramatically improve the safety profile of vehicles driving on our roads."
Clearwater said it was timely that after considerable lobbying by the Motor Industry Association, the Government is now looking at making electronic stability control mandatory on used imports from January 2018, with used SUVs having to comply two years before this.
"This action, while some way off, will initially help control the age of vehicles coming into the country.
"But we believe there still needs to be a continuous seven-year rolling age ban on used imports if we are to dramatically improve the safety profile of vehicles driving on our roads."
A week previously Toyota New Zealand bemoaned the fact that the increasing numbers of used imports are contributing to a steadily ageing vehicle fleet in this country. Chief executive Alistair Davis pointed out that the average age has now moved past 14 years.
Taranaki Daily News