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FCAI welcomes government decision

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has welcomed the Australian government’s decision not to proceed with the personal importation of new vehicles due to consumer protection issues.

The Minister for Urban Infrastructure, Paul Fletcher has announced plans to modernise and strengthen the laws governing motor vehicles when first supplied to the Australian market – with plans to keep up with international standards.

According to a statement from the Australian government, the decision has been made “not to proceed with one element of change proposed earlier which would have allowed personal importation of new motor vehicles from the United Kingdom or Japan”.

It had weighed up the “modest benefits of personal import arrangements” and concluded that “the benefits do not justify the cost and complexity of this particular change”.

A main issue of concern raised by the government with personal imports was the lack of protection for consumers.

“The industry has long held the view that personal imports are not in the interest of consumers, nor of the 236,000 people who are either directly or indirectly employed in the Australian motor industry,” said chief executive of the FCAI, Tony Weber.

“Australia already has one of the most competitive motor vehicle markets in the world, delivering world quality vehicles and outstanding value for the consumer.

“To allow personal imports would have exposed consumers to enormous risks, which the government’s own analysis has clearly identified.”

The government also announced a significant regulatory changes to the concessional scheme under which unique, specialist and enthusiast vehicles can be imported to Australia.

The changes have introduced six categories of eligibility including performance, environmental performance, mobility, rarity, left-hand drive, and campervans and motorhomes.

The FCAI believes that on the surface while there is merit in these changes, it is keen to work through the detail with the Government on elements of the revised scheme to ensure the necessary consumer protections are in place.

“The broad picture offered by the Government in its statement is one which now provides legislative certainty and clarity and most importantly, better protection for Australian consumers,” Weber added.

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Both new and used imports increase

There were 14,492 used cars imported into the country during July which was a 28.8 per cent increase on the same month last year when 11,249 units were imported. Year to date, 103,740 used cars have entered the country, a 16 per cent increase on the first seven months of 2016’s when 89,036 units had been imported.

New cars’ boom continues with 12,591 units crossing the border last month, and gives a year-to-date tally of 67,547.

Demand for light commercial vehicles saw 618 units imported last month which was a small decrease on 640 units in June.

As usual the vast majority of used imported cars come from Japan with 13,640 units imported in July, a 29.5 per cent increase on the same month last year when 10,533 units were sourced from that market.

Importers brought 452 used cars in from Australia, a 21.5 per cent increase on July 2016’s total of 372. Year to date, 3,437 used cars have been shipped from Australia, a 21 per cent increase on 2806 units during the same time last year. Singapore again rounded out the top three with 122 units down from 187 in June

Both Britain and the United States saw a fall in the number of used cars exported with 135 and 107 units respectively compared to 151 and 112 in June.

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Aussie car sales hit fourth record month in a row

The Toyota Hilux was Australia’s top-selling vehicle

Vehicle sales in Australia hit a record month in July, the fourth in a row, according to industry body VFACTS.

A total of 92,754 new vehicles were sold in Australia last month, an increase of 1.6 per cent compared to July 2016.

Year-to-date sales hit 692,306 cars, a 0.4 per cent increase.

“This July figure demonstrates the industry’s ability to deliver products which are not only good value but cater specifically for the changing needs of Australian customers,” said the chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), Tony Weber.

While the passenger vehicle market was down 5.9 per cent last month when compared to July 2016, other market segments saw large gains. The SUV market was up 9.4 per cent year-on-year, with small and medium SUVs up 15.3 per cent and 18.6 per cent respectively, and heavy commercials increased 14.5 per cent.

“The steady rise in small and medium SUV sales are indicative of our market’s changing dynamic and manufacturers are moving quickly to meet those new needs and expectations,” Weber said.

The top-selling car make was Toyota, who sold 17,931 vehicles for a 19.3 per cent market share, followed by Mazda, with 9,528 sales, a 10.3 per cent market share, and Hyundai, with an 8.1 per cent share of the market.

Five of the 10 highest-selling vehicle models were also Toyota, with the Hilux standing at the top of the table, with 3,742 sales, a 19.3 per cent increase. This was followed by the Toyota Corolla, with 3,208 sales, down 6.4 per cent, the Ford Ranger, with 3,076 sales, up seven per cent, and the Mazda3, with 2,466 sales, a massive 64.3 per cent increase.

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Turners joins ASX

Turners Automotive Group Limited has been admitted to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), effective from the market opening at 1pm New Zealand time today.

Turners has joined the ASX has a foreign-exempt entity alongside other major Kiwi companies, including Air New Zealand, Fisher & Paykel, and Trade Me.  

“The listing on the ASX will provide the company with access to a larger capital market to support its growth strategy,” Turners Group said in a statement.

The inclusion into the ASX comes after Turners Group announced the new CEO of the retail Turners Group NZ business, which was formerly known as Turners Auctions. Greg Hedgepeth will join the executive team in August.

Turners is now trading on the ASX with the code TRA.  Details of share prices and volumes will be revealed as trading on the ASX gets fully underway.

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Ford unveils ‘showroom of the future’

Elena Ford leads the demonstration of new tech.

The Bayford Group has opened the first Ford ‘Showroom of the future’ in the Southern Hemisphere in Melbourne.

Ford partnered with Fitch Design to create the space, and says the new retail concept will become a global standard.

Features in the showroom include a complimentary café and breakfast bar, kids’ play room, free wi-fi and a cinema room.

The dealer principal of Bayford Ford Epping, David Blackwood, said it was “a great honour to be chosen as the first site in Australia, and one of the first in the world, to receive this amazing refresh.”

The opening was attended by Ford’s global leader in consumer experience, Elena A. Ford, who said the showroom was part of Ford’s global interior refresh programme.

“Ford is focused on connecting with consumers on their terms and building an experience they will love, regardless of where they meet us,” she said.

A new ‘tech-bar’ will showcase new retail technology. Model information will be updated constantly and is accessible and customisable on a new digital content platform. Printed posters have become a thing of the past, and dealers how have the option to change their display branding via a cloud-based media system.   

The Ford of Australia president, Graeme Whickman, said it was an “exciting” time for Ford, and that the division plans to expand. By 2021, the company aims to have 90 updated showrooms across the country.

Whickman said the new space “allows the customer to be in control and showcase the vehicles in a unique and stimulating way, whilst providing customers with purposeful technology.”

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Faulty airbag kills Australian man

A 2007 Honda CR-V, similar to the vehicle that crashed in Cabramatta.

A faulty Takata airbag is “likely” to blame for the death of a 58-year-old man in Sydney, NSW Police has said.

The driver of a 2007 Honda CR-V collided with a Toyota Celica at an intersection in the south-western suburb of Cabramatta on July 13. The man died at the scene, while the driver of the Celica and passengers from both cars suffered minor injuries.

The Metropolitan Crash Investigation Unit has determined the likely cause of death was a small piece of shrapnel, which was lodged into the man’s neck after the airbag exploded.

Honda Australia released a statement expressing their sympathy over the weekend, and confirmed the vehicle was part of a global recall due to a faulty Takata airbag.

“We are aware through NSW Police that an accident occurred on July 13, 2017, and resulted in the tragic death of the driver,” said director Stephen Collins.

“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the family of the driver during this difficult time. The vehicle involved, a 2007 Honda CR-V, was the subject of Takata airbag inflator recalls.”

“Honda Australia is working closely with authorities to provide whatever assistance is required.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) also announced on Monday morning that it would be investigating the incident, and is seeking more information from government authorities around the information provided to consumers about the recall.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Drive magazine found over the weekend that over a million drivers in Australia are still waiting to have their airbags replaced. 2.1 million vehicles in total have been recalled across the ditch.

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Holden launches Aussie ride-sharing trial

General Motors has announced over the weekend that it will test its car-sharing operation, Maven, in Australia in conjunction with Uber.

“We are testing the adoption of one Maven product – Maven Gig – in Australia through a pilot program in Sydney renting Holden cars to Uber drivers,” communications director at GM Holden, Sean Poppitt, said in a statement.

In March, GM began an in-house car-sharing scheme in Melbourne for employees who needed to use a vehicle for a short period of time, or who wanted to test different models in the Holden line-up.

Maven Gig is a GM programme which allows drivers to rent vehicles on demand for one-off jobs such as deliveries and ride-sharing.

In the US, drivers can borrow a Chevy Bolt for $311 per week. It’s not known which Holden model is being used in the Sydney pilot.

Currently, the firm operates in San Diego, and in May, GM said it would launch Maven in San Francisco and Los Angeles later this year.

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Record month for Aussie vehicle sales

The Toyota Hilux was this country’s second best-selling ute of 2015 – for the second year in a row

Australia enjoyed its best-ever monthly motor vehicle sales in June, according to statistical service VFACTS. 

Sales of new motor vehicles hit a record high of 134,171 units, a four per cent increase.

The strong sales figures were led by a boom in SUVs and light commercial vehicles. SUVs were up 11.7 per cent compared to June 2016, and light commercials 12.2 per cent.

However, passenger vehicle sales fell 5.9 per cent compared to June 2016.

The most significant growth in June was in the medium SUV segment, up 32.6 per cent, followed by large SUVs, up 20.8 per cent, and utes, up 16.7 per cent.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) said the demand was chiefly driven by the business sector, with sales of passenger cars rising 5.7 per cent, and SUVs and light commercials 16.6 per cent to businesses.

The FCAI also attributed the sales increase to a competitive market, low interest rates and the Australian government’s instant asset write-off provision.

Record-breaking sales in June means year-to-date sales are tracking 0.2 per cent the 2016 rate.

Sales increased across the country except for Western Australia, which declined 5.5 per cent. Victoria led sales growth, up 8.7 per cent, followed by South Australia, up 7.9 per cent, the Northern Territory, up 7.5 per cent, Queensland, up 5.5 per cent, Tasmania, up 5.4 per cent, New South Wales, up 2.1 per cent, and the ACT, up 0.7 per cent.  

Toyota remained the industry leader with an 18.3 per cent market share, followed by Mazda, on 9.3 per cent, Hyundai on 9.1 per cent, and Holden and Mitsubishi, both on 6.9 per cent.

The Toyota Hilux was the top-selling vehicle in the country yet again, with 5,461 sales, followed by the Ford Ranger with 5,051 sales, the Toyota Corolla, with 3,830 sales and the Hyundai Tucson, with 3,741 sales.

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Autonomous cars can’t detect roos

Volvo has announced that its autonomous-driving technology struggles to detect kangaroos.

The Swedish brand has been studying kangaroo detection and collision avoidance for almost two years and stated in 2015 that this was the first research into how the animal affects autonomous vehicle sensors.

The Volvo’s 2017 S90 and XC90 models have large animal detection systems, however elk, deer and other large animals do not move like a kangaroo.
“We’ve noticed with the kangaroo being in mid-flight when it’s in the air, it actually looks further away, then it lands and it looks closer,” Volvo Australia’s head of technology.

Volvo still plans to develop a radar and camera detection system that will identify kangaroos and apply the brakes or steer the car away from the animal.

According to research from RACV insurance, kangaroos are involved in eight out of 10 animal-related car accidents in Australia.

Volvo’s target is that no-one is killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020, which makes this research even more important for people living across the ditch.

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Record May for Australian vehicle sales

The Toyota HIlux was Australia’s top-selling vehicle

Vehicle sales in Australia hit a record in May, with all states and the Northern Territory posting an increase.

May sales totalled 102,901, a 6.4 increase on the same month last year, and all market segments increased. Market sales have totalled 465,381 for the year to date, down 0.9 per cent over the corresponding period in 2016, according to the official industry statistical service VFACTS.

SUVs were once again the highest-selling segment, with a 38.5 per cent market share in May, followed by passenger vehicles, on 37.7 per cent, and light commercial, on 20.6 per cent.

Sales grew for all market segments. Passenger vehicles were up 1.6 per cent compared to May 2016. SUV and light commercial sales both increased 9.4 per cent, and heavy commercial vehicles saw the highest increase, up 13.6 per cent.

Within sales by buyer type, business purchases of SUVs nationally rose 14.9 per cent, and light commercial purchases by the government rose 31.7 per cent.

The chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Tony Weber, said that the May market rebound was not unexpected given incoming end of the 2016-2017 financial year.

“Light commercials and SUVs were again strong performing segments, both up by 9.4 per cent on the result of May 2016 but it was also interesting to see small passenger cars as our country’s most popular vehicle category,” Mr Weber said.

Regionally, Victoria was the best-performing state, with sales up 11.3 per cent in May compared to 2016, followed by the Northern Territory, up 8.1 per cent, Queensland, up 5.7 per cent, New South Wales, up 5.1 per cent, South Australia up 3.1 per cent and Tasmania up 2.5 per cent.

Only the Australian Central Territory posted a decline, with sales down 3.0 per cent.

The top-selling vehicle in May was the Toyota Hilux, with 4.154 sales, followed by the Ford Ranger, with 4,069 sales. The Toyota Corolla came third, with 3,160 sales, followed by the Hyundai i30 hatch and the Mazda3.

Toyota led the market with a 19.3 per cent share last month, followed by Mazda on 9.6 per cent, Hyundai, on 8.1 per cent, Ford on 7.4 per cent, and Holden, on 6.7 per cent.

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Best-ever March vehicle sales in Australia

Australia’s motoring industry had its best-ever March sales figures, with the market up 898 sales, or 0.9 per cent, on the same time last year. According to statistical provider VFACTS, 105,410 vehicles were sold in Australia last month.

Sales decreased in ACT, NSW, the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia, but strong growth in South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria offset this slump.

The SUV market continues to grow, accounting for 39.4 per cent of the total vehicle market in March – a 7.9 per cent increase on 2016.

“For the first three months of 2017 the SUV segment is now the dominant sector, whereas this time last year passenger cars led the market by around 10,000 sales. Clearly, the shift in market dynamics is accelerating,” said CEO of the Federal Chamber of Automotive industries, Tony Weber.

Toyota was the leading car make, taking 18.6 per cent of the market in March. This was followed by Mazda, with a 9.9 per cent market share, and Hyundai on 8.3 per cent.

The top-selling vehicle in Australia was the Toyota Hilux, with 4,425 sales, followed by the Ford Ranger, with 3,845 and the Toyota Corolla, with 3,574 units sold.

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