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NZ vehicle fleet size increasing

NZ vehicle fleet size increasing – expect more traffic, everywhere

Traffic volumes seem set to increase as the size of New Zealand’s national car fleet continues to grow, says Motor Trade Association (MTA).

After a period of strong growth from 2002–2007, the build-up of car numbers was far more subdued during the global financial crisis of the latter part of the decade. With a range of factors now working together, the number of cars in our fleet is on the rise again.

MTA estimates that in 2013 alone the car fleet grew by more than 57,000 units (2.4 percent), the strongest growth since 2005 (2.8 percent). At the end of 2013, the national car fleet stood at 2,482,513 units.

MTA spokesperson Ian Stronach says sometimes it is hard to comprehend the difference that many cars make when they’re spread across the country. “If all the cars added to the fleet last year lined up nose to tail, they would stretch from Wellington to Patea in Taranaki!”

The strong market for new and first-time used import cars over the past 18 months has contributed strongly to the overall growth in the size of the car fleet. Continued increases to the size of New Zealand’s car fleet seem likely: fuel costs have been relatively stable over recent months and new roading projects underway in many parts of the country are encouraging car use.

Statistics New Zealand projects the country’s population to reach 5 million in the mid-2020s, and unless something changes significantly, by far the most common method of transport will still be the private motor car, MTA says.

In 2013, new car sales were up 7 percent, while sales of used import cars were up 26 percent. For the year to date, sales are up 14 percent and 31 percent respectively.

Strong local sales and the assistance of a strong Kiwi dollar mean demand is likely to remain firm for some time yet. The fleet is set to continue to grow in the foreseeable future.

Supporting the growth in demand has been a rise in the number of registered traders. There are now more than 3,000 registered vehicle traders in New Zealand: 22 percent more than a year ago, and the highest number since 2008.

The other significant factor influencing this growth in car numbers is the reduction in the rate of scrappage. MTA estimates the scrappage rate for cars has fallen from a high of 174,000 cars in 2005 to just 131,000 cars last year – the lowest in the past four years.

“Not everyone has the means to upgrade their car; for some people, if their car performs satisfactorily and relatively reliably, it has a certain utility value. It doesn’t matter how old or what distance it has covered, it just doesn’t make sense to the owner to exit the car from the fleet,” says Stronach.


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