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NZ fleet continues to get older

25 January 2005

NZ fleet continues to get older despite record new vehicle sales

In a trend which ought to be of grave concern for those responsible for road safety as well as meeting the country’s obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, the age of the nation’s vehicle fleet continues to increase in spite of record sales of new vehicles in 2004 and a slight reduction in the volume of used imports.

“The problem is the increasing age of used imports at the time of arrival, and it is a major one,” said Perry Kerr, CEO of the Motor Industry Association. “Even a 50% lift in the sales of new vehicles over the last six years isn’t enough to reduce the average age of the vehicle fleet in the face of the thousands upon thousands of eight year old plus vehicles that continue to pour over the wharves. The older they are at the time of arrival, the shorter is their remaining useful life and the sooner they need replacing, so it’s a cycle that is compounding on itself.”

Old four wheel drives and passenger vans, which are exempt from the 2003 frontal impact standards, are a significant part of the problem. In 2004 the average age of used import cars at their first registration in New Zealand was 7.56 years, but over 50% of used import four wheel drives and almost 80% of used import passenger vans were eight years old or older.

In December 2003 the average age of cars (including 4WDs and passenger vans) in the New Zealand fleet was 11.69 years. In 2004, despite the fact that a 15 year record 74,775 new cars were registered, the average age went up to 11.78 years. (Note this is up from 9.93 years average age in 1992)

“The rapidly improving safety and environmental performance of new vehicles will have a vastly diluted effect as long as we allow the vehicle fleet to get older through the continued importation of eight year old technology, “ said Mr. Kerr. “It’s time that those responsible for such vital policy areas faced up to not only the road safety issues but also the nation’s international obligations.”


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