Region's average car a teen without the attitude

Yvette Batten with her 1999 hatchback
Yvette Batten with her 1999 hatchback

New Plymouth's Yvette Batten drives an average car.

Not that she considers it average, mind you. In fact she loves her 1999 Toyota Starlet so much she's named it Ruby.

"I even give her a hug when she goes in for her warrant of fitness," the North Taranaki Midweek reporter said yesterday.

"So I certainly wouldn't call my car average."

But in terms of age, it is.

According to Ministry of Transport statistics made public yesterday, the average age of light vehicles on Taranaki roads is 13 years, which is just below the national average of 13.03 years.

The statistics were made public by the Motor Trade Association to show that New Zealanders are keeping their cars for longer.

In 2000, vehicles registered new in New Zealand were being scrapped at an average age of 18 years, while used imports were being scrapped at an average of 15 years.

"However, as more modern vehicles are increasingly reliable and durable, and many New Zealanders are feeling the economic squeeze, they are holding on to their cars longer," MTA spokesman Ian Stronach said.

"In 2011 New Zealand-new cars were still being scrapped after 18 years, but the average scrapping age of used imports had climbed to 19 years."

And adding to this "unique" driving environment, many New Zealanders are adopting a casual approach to vehicle servicing, the MTA says.

A survey in July found 51 per cent of vehicles needed work done on the day they were booked in for a warrant of fitness so they could pass the minimum test for road safety.

The most common faults were bald tyres, windscreen wipers that did not work, and broken indicator, stop and headlights - easily noticeable, but worryingly overlooked requirements for safe driving.

"Old cars, poor maintenance and challenging roads add up to make driving in New Zealand more dangerous than it needs to be," Mr Stronach said.

The statistics show the average age of a vehicle in New Plymouth district is 12 years, while in Stratford the age is closer to 14 years. In South Taranaki, the average age is 13.1 years.

The MTA has found the average registered vehicle is generally older further to the south.

Waimate has the oldest fleet in the country with an average age of 17 years, followed by Tasman and Waimakariri. The newest cars are registered in Auckland, North Shore and Wellington - not surprising, as this is where most company vehicles are based.

Taranaki Daily News