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Fuel spending down

Consumers spent less on fuel but more on core shop sales (which excludes the vehicle-related industries), leaving overall retail spending flat in the September 2017, Stats NZ said today. This is compared with a 0.6 per cent rise in the June quarter, after adjusting for seasonal effects.

Electronic card spending on fuel in the September 2017 quarter fell $129 million, or 7.1 per cent.

“This drop in fuel spending coincided with lower fuel prices at the beginning of the quarter,” retail manager Sue Chapman said.

Spending rose in five of the six retail industries in the September quarter.

Core retail spending rose 0.9 per cent in the September 2017 quarter, after a 1.1 per cent rise in the June 2017 quarter.

Actual retail spending using electronic cards was $14.7 billion in the September 2017 quarter, up $437 million (3.1 percent) from the September 2016 quarter.

Spending fell in four of the six retail industries in September. The largest movements came from sales of goods including appliances and furniture (durables), down $15 million or 1.2 percent, offset by grocery and liquor sales (consumables), up $15 million or 0.8 percent.

“We can’t draw any firm conclusions about the impact of the general election on electronic card spending in September,” Chapman said.

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Honda to close Japanese plants as focus shifts to EVs

Honda is taking the rare step of closing one of its Japanese plants, as the car maker shifts its focus toward EVs.

Reuters reports that the company will end production at its Sayama plant by 2022. The move will cut domestic capacity by around 24 per cent.

The automaker has seen stagnant domestic sales and said on Wednesday it was streamlining its Japanese operations as it takes a nimbler approach to development and manufacturing in the face of fierce competition from carmakers and technology companies to make EVs and self-driving cars.

“As we focus more on adopting electrification and other new technologies, we want to hone our vehicle manufacturing expertise in Japan and expand it globally,” CEO Takahiro Hachigo told a press conference.

Honda’s CEO at a press conference on Wednesday. Source: Reuters

Honda said it would end production at the ageing plant north of Tokyo, consolidating output at its Yorii plant in the same area by the end of the 2022 financial year. Most workers currently at Sayama would be transferred to the Yorii facility.

“Domestic sales haven’t increased as much as we were expecting and it has become difficult to boost exports,” Hachigo said.

The move would cut overall domestic annual production capacity to around 810,000 units, the same as Honda’s current output levels, which are around 76 per cent of its current production capacity of 1.06 million vehicles.

Following the closure, Honda said the Yorii plant will produce EVs and serve as a major center for developing manufacturing technology for electric cars.

While the car maker makes cuts in Japan, it plans to open a new plant by 2019 in China, where it has seen massive growth. Overall, global annual production would remain largely unchanged at around 5.06 million units, Honda said.

Honda is complying with a request from Japan’s transport ministry for inspection records after Nissan said on Monday it would recall 1.2 million vehicles due failing audits of their final inspection processes.

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Third quarter job growth slows

While September’s general election may have failed to slow car sales, the same cannot be said for the job market, with strong double-digit growth easing in the last quarter.

Growth in new job listings was only up a modest 4.8 per cent year-on-year, and well down on the high of 16 per cent growth in the December 2016 quarter.

Head of Trade Me Jobs Jeremy Wade said that election apprehension has rippled through the country.

“Traditionally during an election we see some effect on the employment market, however greater uncertainty around this year’s general election has hit harder than expected.”

Listings from small and medium-sized businesses in particular were lower than during the 2014 election campaign.

In contrast to Trades and services’ 4 per cent drop year-on-year for the September quarter, transport and logistics, which can be a bellwether for future economic growth, increased 28 per cent year-on year.

“We’ll be watching these sectors closely once a Government is formed. If they continue to rein in their hiring aspirations, then this may have an impact on economic growth for New Zealand,” says Wade.

 

 

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Fuel stocks stable: Z Energy, BP

Disruption continues and the costs are rising following the rupture of a fuel pipeline in Northland on Thursday.

Though nearly 30 flights have been cancelled today, and estimates indicate that the spill may cost up to $15 million, councils and fuel retailers remain positive that the situation is being handled competently.

Z Energy today said that four of its Auckland stations ran out of 95 octane fuel yesterday, due to the company prioritising the delivery of diesel and 91 octane petrol.

The pipeline which connects Marsden Point Oil Refinery and Auckland Airport was breached on a farm near Ruakaka. Source: stuff.co.nz

The company assured drivers today though that despite yesterday’s shortages, good stocks of 95 octane fuel were continuing to be trucked into Auckland and there should be no Z stations running out of it.

BP also confirmed that its fuel stocks were stable.

“Availability of all fuel grades currently continues at BP sites across New Zealand. This includes Regular 91, Premium 95, Ultimate 98 and Ultimate Diesel as usually stocked,” BP said in a statement released just before midday today.

The pipeline, which carries all aviation fuel to Auckland Airport, is 169km long and operated by refining company Refining NZ, ruptures Thursday following what is thought to be damage caused by a digger earlier in the year.

In an update released at 9am this morning, Northland Regional Council said that around 80,000 litres of fuel has been reported spilled, but that this is not likely to cause any significant environmental damage, owing to the timely response from the refinery.

In a statement yesterday, Refining NZ said that a 30 person team has been working on a 24 hour basis over the last four days to clean up the spill, and that most of the jet fuel has been recovered from the spill site.

Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins told RNZ’s Morning Report today that a number of measures were being taken to speed up fuel distribution.

The NZTA was making it easier for tankers to get over-weight permits to be allowed to carry more fuel, Collins said.

Auckland Transport and NZTA were working together to phase traffic lights so trucks could get to fuel stations more quickly.

Auckland Council would also extend the times when fuel drop-offs were allowed in the city, she said.

The Government also said the NZ Defence Force was making 890,000 litres of military fuel available to civilian aircraft, and 20 of their drivers were being drafted in to help local operators manage the workload.

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Production facility for autonomous vehicles in Christchurch

An Auckland company has announced it will establish a production facility to build autonomous vehicles in Christchurch.

Ohmio Automotion launched in Christchurch yesterday with the company showcasing three shuttle buses, which feature self-driving vehicle technology.

Fully operational prototypes of the electric Ohmio Hop shuttles carried passengers including school children as they performed on a circuit around the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Ohmio claims to be one of the first companies whose shuttles can form a connected convoy.

An Ohmio autonomous bus outside the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Ohmio vehicles include self-mapping artificial intelligence. Once they have completed their route once, they are able to self-drive the route over and over.

A range of four Ohmio models is planned for production before 2019, the vehicles will range in size from small to large shuttles and freight pods and vehicles will be customisable to suit their customer. All models will be built around the innovative technology developed by parent company HMI Technologies, a technology company that specialises in Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS).

Richard Harris of HMI Technologies says that he expects the autonomous vehicles would operate well in a confined area, when fully introduced.

“I can imagine them moving around a set space, perhaps a CBD, picking up and dropping people off, rather than shooting out to the airport or somewhere further away.”

HMI has been developing and manufacturing ITS solutions for 15 years, their customers include governments and transport agencies. Their technology includes electronic signs, sensors and software for monitoring transport to aid management of urban and rural transport environments, making transport safer and more efficient.

Being in New Zealand offers the new company a formidable advantage, explains Mohammed Hikmet, founder of HMI Technologies. 

“The testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles elsewhere is slowed down by legislation or requires special permits. Here in New Zealand, the government already allows for testing of driverless vehicles. That gives Ohmio an advantage as we scale up and develop our technology, especially as we understand regulations here and in Australia.”

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel is excited by the Ohmio technology and what it will mean for the city’s future direction.

“And they have done it here in Christchurch where we are seizing the opportunity to become a testbed for emerging technologies. We won’t be swamped by disruption – we will embrace it, learn from it and turn it on its head,” says the Mayor.

“This could help write a regulatory framework for the roads and the signals that provide guidance to the vehicles. We can set the standards for NZ and the world.”

 

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Cars, fuel spending up slightly in August

Stats NZ has released figures for electronic card spending for the month of August showing a marginal decrease in spending across the board, but small increases in specific industries.

August saw a small increase in spending on vehicles, up $1.6 million, or 0.9 per cent to $169 million. Compared to the same month last year, spending on vehicles is up 0.69 per cent.

Spending on fuel also rose slightly, up $2.1 million or 0.4 percent to $551 million, following a 6 per cent fall in July. Spending on fuel is down 2.6 per cent on the same month last year.

Spending in the retail industries fell 0.2 per cent, while the non-retail (excluding services) industry rose $19 million or 1.3 per cent, and the services industry was up $2 million or 0.8 per cent.

Cardholders made 139 million transactions across all industries in August 2017, with an average value of $48. The total amount spent across all transactions was $6.7 billion.

Source: Stats NZ



National, Labour show their hands on transport policy

As the general election draws nearer and nearer, the two major parties vying for leadership have shown marked differences in their transport policies, outlining different sets of priorities and funding allocations.

Where National intends to continue funding investment in the state highway and regional road network, Labour has indicated that if elected, they would place most of its investment in inter-regional rail and light rail for Auckland.

Labour’s rhetoric on transportation policy has focused on easing congestion, improvements to usability and liveability, economic development and the environment. National emphasises productivity and growth, safety and congestion relief as the predominant benefits of its programme.

Bill English and Jacinda Adern at last night’s Press Leaders Debate in Christchurch. Source: stuff.co.nz

National has today confirmed its previous announcement that will deliver a $10.5 billion addition to the state highway network through a revamped Roads of National Significance programme, a move that the Auckland Chamber of Commerce says provides much needed certainty for business.

The incumbent government would invest an additional $600 million to improve road safety and repair earthquake-affected Kaikoura roads.

Penlink and the billion dollar Mill Rd project in Auckland will be delivered as state highways under a fouth National term. National has indicated it will also accelerate regional road projects, but has not provided any specifics.

One of Labour’s transport policies, and new leader Jacinda Adern’s first major policy announcement as leader, was that Labour would invest $3.3 billion in light rail and busways in Auckland over the next 20 years. In contrast to National, it would like to dial back the East West Link connecting Auckland’s motorways.

It would also commit $100 million to Christchurch public transport and consider light rail for Wellington, and require KiwiRail to cease de-electrification works.

Labour has committed to quickly rebuilding the Manawatu Gorge Rd.

It is not clear whether planned projects state highway improvements, including the Warkworth to Wellsford Road of National Significance, will be delivered as planned by the current government.

Labour has made more funding available for transport projects of regional importance by doubling the funding range of $70-$140m to $140-$280m.

Labour has not specified funding for cycling and walking, but has indicated that both, along with rail, will be eligible to apply to the National Land Transport Fund for national funding.

National will continue to implement its $333 million cycling programme.

National has also indicated that it will continue to support increased electric vehicle uptake.

A controversial policy announcement from Labour indicates that it will levy a 10 cents per litre fuel tax in Auckland to fund its programme, if elected, where National will fund its investment from existing sources and continue investigating road pricing.

The Tauranga Eastern Link, one of the Roads of National Significance.

Infrastructure NZ chief executive Stephen Selwood says that stark differences in both parties’ policies indicates that transportation is too politicised.

 “We spend tens of millions of dollars every year on complex modelling and evaluation of projects and their benefits which should, in theory, depoliticise transport priorities and deliver the right projects for the job.

“That two such different approaches can be promoted indicates a lack of evidence is present in our decision making,” says Selwood.

Transportation is just one of the issues the two parties are providing New Zealanders with a clear choice on.

With the two parties neck and neck in the polls, the outcome on September 23 could see New Zealanders travelling down one of two very different roads.

 

 

 

 

 

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Isuzu joins leader board

There were 1,148 used commercial vehicles sold during August, which was a 14.6 per cent increase on the 1,002 units registered in August 2016.

Toyota continues to hold on to its pole position as market leader with 520 registrations, up 7.9 per cent on August last year when 482 units were sold. Nissan followed with 269 registrations up a healthy 26.3 per cent on the same month last year on 213 units, and Isuzu was third with 74 sales, a massive 68.2 per cent increase on August 2016’s sales of 44 units and relegating Mazda into fourth.

Once again, the Toyota Hiace was the top used commercial model.

Year to date, Toyota has a 46.8 per cent share of the market with 4,025 registrations, while Nissan has a 21.5 per cent market share with 1,845 sales and Mazda continues to hold onto third with a 6.8 per cent market share on 589 units.

Toyota Hiace held steady at the top of the commercial vehicle models table with 399 registrations for the month, an increase of 13.7 per cent on August 2016, and a market share of 34.8 per cent. Year to date, there has been 3,048 Hiace sold for an overall market share of 35.4 per cent. Nissan Caravan registrations fell 7.6 per cent from 92 in August last year to 85 last month, while the Mazda Bongo was third despite a 30.9 per cent drop from 68 sales a year ago to 47 in August. Isuzu Forward had a 214.3 per cent increase in sales from seven during August 2016 to 22 last month.

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Numbers of imports down for the month

Vehicle imports were down across the board compared to August 2016, apart from used light commercial vehicles, that were down on last month.

There were 12,455 used cars imported last month, down 14.1 per cent on July and 11.4 per cent on August last year.

Despite the general drop in new imports, new cars from Germany jumped up 76 per cent to 1,318 units, compared to last month’s 745 units.

Imported passenger vehicles from Japan were 13.6 per cent lower than the same month last year reducing their monthly market share to 91.9 per cent.

The UK, Australia and Singapore continued their popularity as a source market with increases of 102.1, 20.9 and 13.6 per cent respectively. Australia has increased its monthly share of the overall used cars imported to 4.3 per cent.

Year to date imports of used cars are up 13,019 units or 13 per cent compared to the first eight months of 2016, with 116,113 crossing the border so far in 2017.

New car imports were down 15.8 per cent on last month at 10,599 units. Japanese new car imports fell sharply to 3,434 units from July’s 5,597, down about 39 per cent.

Despite the general drop in new imports, new cars from Germany jumped up 76 per cent to 1,318 units, compared to last month’s 745 units.

New light commercials were also down 11 per cent to 2,754 units, from last month’s 3,108 units.

 

 

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New registrations surpass 100,000 units

Registrations of new vehicles have exceeded 100,000 units year to date – the fastest this milestone has ever been achieved. By the end of August, 103,923 new vehicles had been sold.

Registrations were 11.3 per cent above this time in 2016, while the total registration of 13,063 vehicles for the month of August was up by three per cent on August 2016.

David Crawford, chief executive officer of the Motor Industry Association, says that there was a mix of vehicles registered in August, reflecting changing consumer preferences.

The Ford ranger remains NZ’s top selling commercial, and overall.

“While passenger car and SUV registrations of 8,607 units were down 3.2 per cent (289 units) on August 2016, registrations of 4,456 commercial vehicles for the month of August were up by 17.9 per cent (675 units) on August 2016,” he says.

“Registrations of SUVs remain strong however growth in registrations of passenger vehicles continues to weaken. Nevertheless, year-to-date passenger and SUV registrations still remain 7.5 per cent (4,851 units) above this time in 2016.”

Toyota remains the overall market leader with 19 per cent market share selling 2,511 units, followed by Ford with 10 per cent selling 1,305 units, and Holden with 8 per cent market share selling 1,071 units.

Commercial vehicle registrations are up 19.6 per cent to 5,691 units on this time last year and Toyota remained that market leader with a 25 per cent share of the market selling 1,114 units.

Toyota also managed to knock the Ford Ranger off the top spot with the best-selling commercial model being the Hilux with 17 per cent market share and selling 779 units in the month of August.

The Ranger slipped back to a 15 per cent share, selling 690 units, however remains at the top of the list for the year’s best selling commercial vehicle. The Ranger is also the top model overall with 6,320 registrations compared to 5,497 for the Toyota Hilux.

The top segments for the month of August were medium SUVs with 15 per cent share, followed by Chassis Cab 4×4 with 14 per cent and small passenger vehicles with 11 per cent market share.

 

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Value of vehicles, parts from ASEAN doubles since 2013

New Zealand’s two-way trade with the ASEAN was $15.2 billion in the June 2017 year, Stats NZ said today. Goods and services exported to ASEAN countries totalled $6.3 billion, and imports totalled $8.9 billion.

New Zealand’s trade deficit with the combined Association of South East Asian Nations countries, known as ASEAN, was $2.6 billion.

ASEAN, established in August 1967, had Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand as original members. Countries that joined later were Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Viet Nam.

Dairy products, petrol and cars were among the main goods traded.

Since 2013, the value of vehicles and parts imported from ASEAN has doubled to reach $1.3 billion in the June 2017 year. Stats NZ say that most of these vehicles are from Thailand, where cars and trucks are made under licence for Japanese, American, and other international car makers.

Petroleum and related products was New Zealand’s largest goods import from ASEAN in the June 2017 year, according to Stats NZ. New Zealand imported $1.4 billion worth of petroleum from ASEAN in the June 2017 year, half of what was imported in the June 2013 year. Most these petroleum imports came from Singapore ($982 million).

“Fifty years ago, we exported nearly $16 million worth of goods to the five original ASEAN countries,” international statistics senior manager Daria Kwon said. “That’s around $160 million in today’s value.”

Transportation was the largest service import from ASEAN, largely attributable to New Zealanders flying through Singapore on non-resident airlines.

Vehicles, parts, and accessories from Japan ($2.3 billion) and the European Union ($2.2 billion);
and electrical machinery and equipment from China ($2.0 billion), were our three largest import
expenses in the year ended June 2017. Source: Stats NZ

 

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