Motor industry

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New vehicle standards bill for Australia

Australia’s main motor industry body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, (FCAI), has welcomed the Federal Government’s release of an exposure draft of the new Road Vehicles Standards Bill.

The new Bill introduces reforms to strengthen the laws around road vehicles when first supplied to the Australian market. This involves clarifying vehicle recall arrangements; developing vehicles with international standards; and providing more choice through streamlining the regulatory pathways through which non-standard vehicles are imported. 

“This new legislation has been a long time coming, but the automotive industry is pleased that the Minister has taken the time to consider what is in the best interests of Australian consumers,” Tony Weber, FCAI Chief Executive said.

“It provides a framework to ensure Australians have access to world quality vehicles with the latest safety and environmental features.”

Mr Weber said that Australia’s new car market was one of the most competitive in the world, with new vehicle prices independently assessed as cheaper than most developed countries.

“This legislation would ensure our vehicles are fit for purpose, built for our market conditions, and underpinned by established consumer support mechanisms,” Mr Weber said.

“Our industry has always welcomed competition because that’s what delivers value for the consumer. This proposed legislation provides a robust structure which also safeguards the interests of the consumer.”

The Australian Automotive Dealer Association also reaffirms the FCAI’s views, “After a thorough consultation process, we believe the Government has developed a balanced, well-considered package of reforms which protects consumers, reduces red tape and allows for an objective scheme to import specialist and enthusiast vehicles,” said AADA Chief Executive Officer, David Blackhall.

“New car franchised dealers conduct all vehicle safety recalls in Australia and we are supportive of the additional clarity this legislation provides in this area,” said Mr Blackhall.

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ACCC report criticises car industry

Tony Weber, chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, (FCAI) has expressed concern regarding the ACCC’s final report into the Australian new car retailing industry.

The FCAI’s Chief Executive Tony Weber said that the report has revealed both a poor understanding of the industry and insufficient evidence to support the claims. This is especially disappointing for the FCAI as the document took around 18 months to develop.

“While the FCAI and motor vehicle companies in Australia are still studying the detail of today’s report, at first blush it appears that the ACCC has taken 18 months to research and understand a complex industry, and failed to properly comprehend it,” Mr Weber said.

“The ACCC’s report appears to be predicated on a very small number of complaints which it uses to tarnish Australia’s $17.5 billion retail motor industry. This is not only unfair, it is inaccurate.”

“To take one example, the ACCC has relied on 85 consumer complaints and 229 small business comments to support its position on mandating unfettered access to service and repair information,” Mr Weber noted.

“By way of comparison, there are some 17 million motor vehicles on Australian roads today, which are predominantly repaired and serviced by the independent repair sector. So how does the ACCC hypothesize that the information isn’t readily available?

“Technical information to service and repair cars is already widely available and the FCAI’s Voluntary Code ensures that car companies will continue to offer the information necessary to service and repair cars available to independent repair sector. However, it appears organisations are seeking ways in which they can leverage car manufacturers’ intellectual property for their own commercial gain by building and selling aftermarket devices.”

Mr Weber noted that the retail new car industry also has been unfairly criticised by the ACCC, when in fact 1.178 million new motor vehicles were sold in Australia last year with overwhelming levels of customer satisfaction. 

“The reality is that as modern motor vehicles become more sophisticated, the independent repair sector needs to continue to adapt and change to ensure it remains relevant and up to date. Independent repairers shouldn’t be able to say they can repair all makes and models when clearly they can’t. Unfortunately, today’s report just smacks of the ACCC looking to support old and failing business models for independent repairers.”

“Car companies take safety, environmental and security information very seriously. Additionally, having security information in the public domain puts a vehicle at much greater risk of being stolen,” Mr Weber said.

The ACCC’s recommendation on information sharing goes against the advice of the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (NMVTRC), which wrote to the ACCC specifically on the matter, stating:

“The current controls over the sharing of this information in Australia has helped deliver the nation low rates of electronic criminal manipulation by world standards and the NMVTRC’s view is that this approach should be maintained.”

“If the ACCC supports mandating the sharing of service and repair information above the already high level of information provided voluntarily by car companies, then the ACCC will own the responsibility for the misuse of that information,” Mr Weber said.

According to figures obtained from the UK Royal Automobile Club (RAC), the number of stolen vehicles in the UK has risen by nearly 30 per cent in the past three years, which is attributable in part to the release of security information.  By comparison, motor vehicle theft rates (all vehicles) in Australia have increased by 1 per cent over the same period.

“The ACCC has cherry-picked information to support its bias. Information provided to the FCAI by the ACCC on a confidential basis of complaints over a two-year period again reinforce the fact that the number of complaints are exceptionally small and most have been addressed by the car companies. Unfortunately, the ACCC has handcuffed us from releasing this information publicly.”






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Vehicles and parts sales down

According to the latest figures from Stats NZ, wholesale sales values for motor vehicles and parts, including cars are trucks, fell 3.6 per cent ($98 million) in the September 2017 quarter, after a 4.0 per cent rise ($104 million) rise in the June 2017 quarter. 

Wholesale trade statistics measure the sale or resale of new or used goods to retailers, including businesses or institutional users (including government).

“Although the sales fell in motor vehicle and parts wholesaling, stocks continued to build up in the September quarter,” Ms Chapman said.

Actual wholesale vehicle and parts stocks were up 26 per cent.  

The retail trade survey for the September 2017 quarter showed that motor vehicles and parts sales also dipped slightly from previous quarters.

Even though wholesale values for vehicles and parts were down, the overall wholesale trade values in the September 2017 quarter rose 1.1 percent ($288 million) in the September 2017 quarter, after a 1.6 percent ($389 million) rise in the June 2017 quarter.

The September increase was the sixth consecutive quarterly increase, with four of the six wholesaling industries rising in the September quarter.

Out of these four the largest industry increase was in grocery, liquor, and tobacco wholesaling, up 2.8 percent ($218 million) from the June 2017 quarter. 

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Associations’ proud pasts

Japanese cars waiting exportation

The Motor Industry Association (MIA) and Imported Motor Vehicle Industry Association (VIA) have an important and colourful past. Autofile Online takes a look.

The VIA was formed in 1989 by dealers for dealers. It is a business association, and helps members manage and develop their businesses by providing support and advice.

Nowadays, the VIA represents a wider group involved in importing used vehicles into New Zealand. Its members include Kiwi wholesalers and retailers, customs agents, transport companies, shipping companies, compliance shops, and Japanese, UK and Singaporean vehicle exporters.  

The VIA basically kick-started the used-vehicle import industry in New Zealand. It developed seatbelt anchorage systems for used Japanese vehicles, developed testing and certification procedures, established VINZ to provide competitive inspection services and saved dealers more than $135 million by negotiating the removal of tariffs.

It also saved importers $19m by taking the Customs Department to the Court of Appeal, forced the Parliamentary Regulations Review Committee to review the Minister of Transport’s frontal-impact regulations, resists the introduction of unreasonable legislation and rules, and continually lobbies government departments on behalf of the trade.

The MIA represents importers and distributors of new cars, trucks and motorbikes. It was set up to provide a unified voice and drive progress on issues that concern the sector – such as vehicle safety, emissions, fuel economy, consumer standards, industry training and codes of practice. It is made up of some 41 members covering 78 marques over three vehicle classes – light automotive, heavy automotive and motorcycles.

The association was formed in 1996, bringing together AMIDNZ, the new vehicle importers’ association, with the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association for assemblers of completely knocked down (CKD) vehicles. In January 2007, the MIA merged with the Motorcycle Distributors’ Association.

The MIA is involved in a wide range of industry issues. It operates several committees that deal with sector specific interests, such as vehicle safety and design, heavy vehicles and vehicle registration.

Distributors supply new vehicles that meet transport rules. When developing new rules, the MIA advocates the government take into account key principles. These are work towards rule harmonisation with source markets, avoid unique country rules, standardise with key source market regimes and align the introduction of new standards with those markets.

They also include allowing adequate lead times for the phase-in of new standards particularly when they need significant development which may require several years to design, test and comply to international standards, and avoid situations where individual distributors use rules to gain a market advantage.

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