Used car buyers will be able to see through any transparent attempt to hide whether their vehicle was once declared a write-off.
Customers have previously said they were unaware a car had been a write-off before purchasing, which has resulted in concern about vehicles that have been declared statutory write-offs in Australia being imported to New Zealand, repaired then on-sold.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is responsible for the Consumer Information Standards (Used Motor Vehicles) Regulations 2008. These regulations prescribe the disclosure of particular information about used motor vehicles that are offered, or displayed, for sale by motor vehicle traders. The information is required to be disclosed on a ‘Consumer Information Notice’ (CIN).
There are plans for MBIE to review the particular information required to be disclosed on the CIN and this is expected to be underway in 2018.
A Consumer Protection spokesperson from the MBIE says that the review will consider possible changes to the CIN, such as a requirement to disclose if a motor vehicle has been written-off and vehicle safety ratings.
The review will involve a consultation process, with interested parties invited to make submissions to MBIE. Any recommended changes to the CIN will be based on the findings from the review process.
MTA says all repaired heavily-damaged vehicles should be flagged
The Motor Trade Association (MTA) is right behind the Government’s move to close cracks in legislation that allow damaged cars to be imported, repaired and sold without the buyer being fully informed.
MTA Chief Executive, Craig Pomare says vehicle safety is of huge importance to the 3,600 MTA members who fix, fuel and sell cars throughout New Zealand.
“What we need is a simple, transparent system that easily allows consumers and traders to check the damage history of a vehicle – whether it is an import or not. We believe all cars that have gone through a major repair, or been water damaged, should be clearly flagged,” says Pomare.
The lack of transparency in the New Zealand system became obvious after a sudden rise in imports of statutorily written-off cars from Australia following the 2013 floods in Queensland.
In the four years before August 2016, just over 7,000 write offs were brought in, including 2,400 flood damaged cars.
“However, only the most savvy consumers know they can check the NZTA website to see if a car they are interested in was once a statutory write off in Australia.”
“MTA first raised this issue with government in 2015 but we think the industry can go further and do better,” he says.
MTA believes a review is needed of the system for tracking all damaged vehicles – not just recent Australian imports.
“We want to see a full review of the sale, repair, and re-registration of all damaged vehicles in New Zealand, regardless of origin.
He accepts that in some situations, some of these vehicles may be easily and fully repaired. “However, we have enough vehicles that meet that criteria in New Zealand, why import more?”
Trade Me’s position is still the same as it was when Policy and Compliance Team Leader, James Ryan, wrote a blog post about the subject matter in May 2016.
Trade Me disclosed that they were concerned about the “unquantified number” of vehicles in New Zealand that have been through the statutory write-off process in Australia and then on-sold to unaware New Zealand buyers and dealers.
“All motor vehicle traders listing vehicles on Trade Me must disclose in the listing body if a vehicle imported from Australia was a statutory write off,” said Ryan.
“We‘re concerned about the safety of our members and we believe consumers need to know the accurate history of a vehicle so they have the opportunity to have the vehicle inspected for specific types of damage or repair.”
“We understand that vehicles are meant to entry certification before vehicles are able to be driven on NZ roads, but there are ways to ‘work around’ this regulatory requirement.”
Trade Me believes this information should be a compulsory requirement on the Consumer Information Notice.
“To ensure the greater provision of information to consumers, we believe the CIN should be displayed on all online classified advertising.”