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VINZ to provide global inspection and audit to THL

One of New Zealand’s and the world’s largest operators of motorhomes has voluntarily opted into an independent and random safety inspection program for their commercial fleet.

Tourism Holdings Limited (THL) will subject their fleet to the inspections from Vehicle Inspection New Zealand (VINZ) throughout NZ, Australia, the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

THL operates under the Maui, Britz, Mighty, KEA Australia and Motek Vehicle Sales brands. Within NZ, THL also operates Kiwi Experience and other localised tourism operations.

THL chief executive Grant Webster says that in the RV industry, the biggest health and safety risk is moving vehicles.

THL operate the Kiwi Experience brand, and many other rental and tourism businesses in NZ.

“We do all we can to ensure the safety of our fleet – giving customers peace of mind along with other road users. This initiative is part of our continued commitment to having the safest fleet of commercial motorhomes on the road – both in New Zealand and around the world,” Webster said.

VINZ will carry out the inspections on-site at THL facilities, providing the equipment and staff in each location. The vehicles will be serviced a checked by an onsite mechanic team as each camper is returned and before it leaves the site.

VINZ will provide the service directly in New Zealand and Australia, and will deliver the audits through other companies in Optimus Group (of which VINZ is a subsidiary) in markets where it does not have a direct presence.

“This agreement, and the work we have put into developing a service delivery and reporting model, represents an opportunity for VINZ to demonstrate its ability to provide customised inspection services on a global scale,” says VINZ Chief Executive, Gordon Shaw. “By working with other Optimus Group companies and their affiliates we can inspect to a global standard and also ensure compliance with regulatory standards in each sovereign market.”

VINZ and THL have a longstanding partnership incorporating entry certification for imported vehicles, along with onsite Certificate of Fitness Testing.

Vehicles rented through Mighway, THL’s peer-to-peer campervan hire company, will also be part of the independent testing.

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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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Trade Me 2017 financial year results released today

Trade Me have released their full year results for the 12 months to 30 June 2017 to the NZX and ASX this morning.

Trade Me chairman David Kirk said the 2017 financial year had shown “excellent progress” for the company with revenue and net operating profit all at record highs.

Trade Me’s revenue reached $234.9m this year, up 7.7 per cent on $218.0m in 2016. In the second half of the 2017 financial year, revenue grew by 6.7 per cent year-on-year. Trade Me’s net operating profit was up 12.0 per cent year-on-year to $93.0m, well ahead of last year’s $83.0m.

Trade Me Motors premium revenue continues to grow. Source: Trade Me

Trade Me Motors, the company’s largest classified vertical, reported a healthy revenue increase of 8.2 per cent, albeit down slightly on the 11.2 per cent increase in revenue growth last year. Trade Me CEO Jon Macdonald said that the Australian arm of their business, MotorWeb, had been performing particularly well. Revenue across the entire MotorWeb business is up 14.6 per cent.

He also said that the revenue increases were driven by increased demand for their premium products, indicating that dealers are spending more on advertising with the company. Year-on-year, dealer premium revenue growth was up 26.8 per cent, total dealers yield growth up 3.2 per cent, and total listings up 5.2 per cent.

Trade Me released data indicating they hold close to a 60 per cent market share of the motoring classifieds in New Zealand, the market itself being worth around $89 million.

Autofile reported on July 11 that Trade Me had entered into a conditional agreement to purchase cloud-based dealer platform Motorcentral. Motorcentral offers a Dealer Management System that allows users to track vehicles, stock and sales online, and automatically send vehicle listings to retail websites such as Trade Me Motors, Driven and Auto Trader.

Macdonald expressed Trade Me’s continued interest in acquiring the business upon release of the company’s financials. “We’re very excited about prospects for this business, and eagerly awaiting clearance from the Commerce Commission to proceed,” he said.

The sale is subject to approval from the Commerce Commission, who provides an “indicative timeline” of 40 days for assessing a clearance application.

Trade Me is also performing well in its general items market place, with a 7.1 per cent growth in revenue year-on-year well out performing last year’s 3.5 per cent growth. The Trade Me Jobs side of the business continues to be the “star performer” with 25 per cent revenue growth, according to Macdonald.

On August 8, the NBR reported that Trade Me’s shares fell to a near six-month low. The fall in share price came after global online retailer Amazon announced it was establishing a base of operations in Melbourne for its Australian launch later this year. It remains to be seen if this will have an impact on the business, with the both the company’s financial outlook and sales revenue appearing strong.

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Colonial profit up 4.2 per cent

Colonial Motor Co (CMC), has announced a 4.2 per cent increase in annual profit, on the back of continued strength in new vehicle sales.

Sales volumes for the company were up 14 per cent overall, while Net profit attributable to shareholders rose to $22.2 million, or 68 cents per share, in the 12 months ended June 30, from $21.5 million, or 65.7 cents, a year earlier.

The Colonial Motor Company’s history in Wellington dates back to 1859.

Colonial’s shares also rose 4 per cent to $7.80 at market close Wednesday night following the announcement. The share price is $7.75 at time of publishing.

Chairman Jim Gibbons said that while the outlook for both light and heavy vehicles was good, the company is dependent on consumer confidence levels remaining high. “The combination of low interest rates, strong exchange rate and new desirable technologies continues to stimulate growth in new vehicle sales,” Gibbons said.

Autofile reported earlier this month that new vehicle sales are healthy this year. Year-to-date, the new vehicle sector is up 12.6 per cent by approximately 10,000 units on this time last year, with 90,737 vehicles registered compared to 80,704 to the end of July 2016. For the month of July, the top selling models were all light commercial vehicles. The Ford Ranger selling best with 655 units, closely followed by the Toyota Hilux with 654 units, and the Mitsubishi Triton with 342 units.

CMC is Wellington based and largely family owned, operating 20 dealerships throughout the country, 12 of those being Ford Dealerships.

CMC last year divested their interest in Jeff Gray BMW and Mini dealerships, following BMW NZ’s decision not to renew their dealer agreement. The company is developing its heavy vehicles profile, with construction of Southpac Trucks’ new parts and service facility in Hamilton, expected to be completed this year. According to CMC, while the extra heavy truck market declined in both 2015 and 2016, but Southpac Trucks has increased its share of that market. The company reported strong forward orders for heavy trucks going into this year however, a side of their business they say is reliant on a growing agricultural ecnomy.

CMC also intends to open a new dealership in South Auckland and has committed to a new site (subject to resource consent) for Macaulay Motors in Queenstown. The company says the Queenstown site, once open, will double their Ford and Mazda service capacity in the growing Queenstown Lakes District.

CMC will release its annual report in late September.

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10-year anniversary for Mazda initiative

Wellington’s Houghton Valley School has created a new outdoor learning zone, including a viewing platform overlooking native trees as part of Treemendous.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Treemendous initiative, a joint action between Project Crimson Trust and the Mazda Foundation.

In order to celebrate the milestone, an extra school on top of the usual four was selected to receive $10,000 towards an environmental project.

On Saturday (12 August), members of the school community, parents, teachers and children, staff from Mazda New Zealand and Capital City Motors, Mazda Foundation Trustees, along with the team from Project Crimson, all pitched in together to dig holes, move mulch and plant trees and shrubs.

The school had a large unused bush wilderness area that was transformed to include paths and seating. Viewing areas were constructed on the day to allow current and future students to observe and learn about the extensive natives planted, which now enhance the school’s existing bush surroundings.

“The new outdoor learning zone will be invaluable to the teachings of current and future students. Our staff and students are eager to incorporate the environmental space into their everyday curriculum to emphasise the importance of looking after the environment now, and in the future,” says principal Raewyn Watson

“We want to give a special thanks to our environment leader Jill Holmstead, all the children, the Mazda Foundation, Project Crimson and the local community who took time out of their day to make this all happen,” she says.

Ruud Kleinpaste brought along his insect friends and spoke with the students, educating them about New Zealand native bugs and the importance of looking after the environment.

Mazda Ambassador Riley Elliott, who’s better known as ‘Shark Man’, also attended the event and talked to students on the Friday prior about the importance of looking after marine ecosystems and encouraged them to pursue what they are passionate about.

“Houghton Valley was a notable example of the passion and enthusiasm the students and the school have about the environment. It was a tremendous success and I can’t wait to hear how the students utilise the revitalised area,“ says Mazda Foundation Trustee Andrew Clearwater.

Houghton Valley was the fourth school to become a Treemendous School this year, following Nelson Central in June, Leithfield School in May and Alexandra Primary School in March. The final school to get a visit from the Treemendous team will be Reporoa School on 16 September.

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Toyota’s plans for Tokyo Olympics

Toyota is set to showcase autonomous vehicle technology during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In a statement, Toyota says “We are excited to share a range of projects, products, and services that will bring our shared vision to life and inspire the world with the power of human mobility.”

News website Reuters also states that autonomous vehicles are being planned to ferry athletes between the Olympic village and other venues during the 2020 Olympics. 

Toyota is also working on a vehicle called Skydrive, which is set to measure 2.9 metres long by 1.3 metres wide and 1.1 metres high – making it the world-s smallest flying car, according to the manufacturer.  

According to industry insiders, the vehicle will assist with also light the flame at the Olympics.  

 

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EVs to make up NZ government fleet

National Party leader and Prime Minister, Bill English has announced one in three cars in the government’s fleet will be electric by 2021.

The government currently has 15,500 cars. “Electric vehicles purchased in the Government fleet will flow through to the second hand market, which is essential to increasing uptake and incentivising more charging stations,” said Bridges.

The Prime Minister said, during his announcement at a charging station outside the The Dowse Museum in Lower Hutt on Saturday, that there’s no doubt electric cars are part of New Zealand’s future, “which make a load of sense because we have an abundance of renewable energy.”

National’s electric vehicle scheme will also include an exemption of road user charges on light and heavy class electric vehicles until each class make up two per cent of its vehicle fleet. The party also promises a $6 million annual contestable fund encouraging to encourage innovation for low emission vehicle projects. Changes to the Land Transport Act will also allow electric vehicles in bus lanes and high-occupancy lanes on the State Highway network.

The Green Party has welcomed the Government’s recent announcement that one in three cars in its vehicle fleet will be electric by 2021, but in a statement, the party says it is still ‘low power.’

“While this is a good start, we need to charge up the ambition to ensure that New Zealand is keeping pace with the rest of the world,” said Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter.

“Aotearoa should be leading the world in electric vehicle adaptation. Instead, National’s lack of leadership has seen New Zealand going backwards, with Kiwirail regressing back to diesel trains and crown limos remaining diesel powered.

“The Government can do more to make it easier for New Zealanders to buy and use electric vehicles and other clean transport solutions.

The Green Party also has a policy to introduce financial incentives for business to switch to electric vehicles – not only will this facilitate business leadership, it will also create a second hand market for electric vehicles that will benefit households in just a few years.

“We will also invest in fast charging stations across the country and investigate further incentives to enable households to access electric vehicles.

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Carmakers agree to diesel filter

German carmakers have agreed to install software in 5.3 million cars to make exhaust filtering systems more effective.

The software will bring down the vehicles’ emissions of nitrogen oxide by 25-30 percent.

A statement from German industry body Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA) said the software updates would be free for motorists and would be just as effective in cutting nitrogen oxide levels as bans on diesel vehicles would be.

The targeted diesel cars will be mainly in the Euro-5 category for car emissions and some in the Euro-6 category.

Meanwhile, the manufacturers will also offer incentives for consumers to trade in diesel cars that are 10 years old or older.

BMW will give a discount of up to €2,000 ($NZ 3,229.83) to drivers who exchange a Euro-4 category BMW when they buy a new diesel BMW, electric BMW or Mini.

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Turners acquires Motorplus NZ

Motorplus founder Wendy Fenning

Turners Automotive Group has acquired insurance agent Motorplus NZ Limited, with founder Wendy Fenning to join the group as the business development manager for DPL Insurance another company within Turners.

Founded by Wendy Fenning 17 years ago, Motorplus has been an underwriting agent for DPL Insurance for three years. Fenning, who has almost 30 years of experience in the automotive industry, will continue to manage the Motorplus Agent network in her new role at DPL Insurance.

“DPL Insurance and Motorplus have had an underwriting partnership for the last three years, and this is a natural step to further combine forces and simplify the arrangements,” says group general manager insurance for Turners, James Searle.

“The transaction is in line with Turners’ strategy to create scale and deliver benefits for dealers and their customers. Wendy’s experience and networks, combined with the resources of DPL Insurance, add to our ability to continue growth, innovation and development in the market.”

Motorplus currently has about 6,000 policies in force, which will transfer to DPL following settlement of the acquisition.

Turners has been expanding both its insurance and retail operations in New Zealand recently, including Autosure last November, and listed on the Australian stock exchange last month to boost earnings and capital.

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UK market struggles

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) states that the market is falling for the fourth month in a row for new car registrations in the United Kingdom.

According to the SMMT, registrations fell in July from the same time last year, by 9.3 per cent with about 162,000 vehicles sold last month. So far this year, 1.56 million cars have been sold, down 2.2 per cent from a year earlier.

“The fall in consumer and business confidence is having a knock on effect on demand in the new car market and government must act quickly to provide concrete plans regarding Brexit,” Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive says

The government said last month it was to ban all new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 amid fears that rising levels of nitrogen oxide threaten public health.

“While it’s encouraging to see record achievements for alternatively fuelled vehicles, consumers considering other fuel types will have undoubtedly been affected by the uncertainty surrounding the government’s clean air plans,” Hawes says.

Meanwhile, sales of electric and hybrid cars are growing with a market share of 5.5 per cent. This is up from a year ago when they only held three per cent of the market share.

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Land Transport Act taken into 21st century

The bill has passed its third and final reading in the House

The Land Transport Act Amendment Bill passed in Parliament last night, with only NZ First voting against the new legislation.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges has said the amendment will introduce “more flexibility in small passenger services, mandatory alcohol interlock sentences, and tougher penalties for fleeing drivers” in a statement released yesterday.

The bill makes small changes to numerous existing clauses in the Land Transport Act. These include some deregulation of passenger services, such as taxis and Ubers; mandatory alcohol interlocks for first-time high-alcohol and repeat drink-drivers; stronger legislation to prosecute evasion of public transport fares; increased penalties for drivers fleeing from police, and changes to the regulation of heavy vehicles.

A supplementary paper was also added to the bill, which bans window-washers from all New Zealand roads.

The legislation around passenger vehicles drew the most attention from both MPs and industry bodies, as the new bill looks to shake up the taxi sector by formally recognising ridesharing as part of the country’s transport system.

Ride-sharing app service Uber welcomed the new bill. “This is the final stage in officially recognising your right to a safe, affordable and reliable ride across the city,” said general manager Richard Menzies.

ACT MP David Seymour was a prominent supporter of the bill

ACT MP David Seymour, a vocal advocate for ride-sharing technology, said yesterday that “red tape prevents consumers from enjoying the benefits of new technology, and suppresses further innovation.”

“Regular New Zealanders who use Uber understand that outdated licensing and safety laws aren’t as effective as GPS tracking, two-way rating systems, and automatic driver-passenger identification.”

However, Seymour argued the amendments took too long to pass into law, and “haven’t gone far enough.”

The bill’s mandatory alcohol interlocks have also drawn praise, with the Automobile Association (AA) calling it “one of the most signfiicant blows against drink driving in New Zealand’s history.”

“Alcohol interlocks are the best weapon we have to keep drink drivers off the road but, until now, they’ve been sitting in the holster,” said AA motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon.

“One third of the deaths on our roads right now involve alcohol, and we have to do more to stop them.”

Labour MP Sue Moroney expressed disappointment that the legislation would remove the requirement for passenger services to install security cameras and Braille signage inside the vehicle for blind and vision-impaired passengers, saying the party supported the bill “with major reservations” during the third reading in the House.

The bill has met opposition from the taxi industry. Blue Bubble chief executive Bob Wilkinson was “disappointed and frankly shocked” at the amendment.

“We welcome competition and innovation, but are very concerned with this legislation,” he said in a statement.

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