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A call for law change

Law change is needed to ensure autonomous vehicles can be used legally on New Zealand roads, a major Law Foundation study has found.

Study author Michael Cameron says a complete overhaul of law and policy around driverless vehicles is required, with targeted reform needed more urgently.

“Certain types of driverless vehicles, such as the taxi fleets being deployed by General Motors next year, may not legally be allowed on New Zealand roads, regardless of how safe they are,” says Cameron.

“Law change to reduce this uncertainty is desirable soon if New Zealand wants to ensure the life-saving benefits of driverless technology are not needlessly delayed. Such change would help New Zealand become a leader in driverless technology, with all the economic benefits that would entail.

“As we have shown with rockets in the North Island and autonomous air taxis in the South, our country can contribute to the development of world-beating technology – but only if we have receptive laws.”

He says that despite recent publicity over the first pedestrian death involving a driverless vehicle, the safety of all road users will ultimately be improved by full adoption of the new technology.

“Many hope that driverless vehicles will eliminate traffic accidents, end congestion, spark economic growth and provide cheap and convenient mobility for all. But countries that want to fully realise these benefits, and avoid the pitfalls, will need to ensure their legal houses are in order,” he says.

Also, driverless vehicle manufacturers should prepare safety assessments for New Zealand, as they do in the United States, so our authorities can better utilise existing consumer protection and land transport rules to protect the public.

Click here to read the full report. 

 

 

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Autotrader celebrates

Today – April 12, 2018, marks a special day in Autotrader NZ history, when its 1800th edition of the magazine rolls off the press.

Autotrader maintains a strong position in the market, with current readership (as audited by Nielsen) now averaging 178,000 per issue, and growth in distribution, readership, magazine size, and advertisers.

The magazine is supported by autotrader.co.nz, which generates close to two million page views each month.

Since its inception in 1981, Autotrader has changed considerably to meet the market. When it started Autotrader was primarily private listings delivered in black and white and published monthly, in Auckland.

Now it focuses on dealer listings, is published fortnightly, is in glossy full colour and distributed in both the North and South Island. However, it stays true to its purpose by keeping things simple—providing listings for people who want to purchase a car.

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VIA announces additional rules

A technician holds a recalled Takata airbag inflator.

As advised last week, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has announced a mandatory recall for at-risk (alpha type) Takata airbag inflators.

As well as recalling all affected vehicles currently in service, after a grace period of 40 business days (or eight weeks), no affected new or used vehicles will be able to enter into New Zealand if they have not been reworked.

As with the first phase for in-service vehicles, VIA is already working with the Government-accredited inspection agencies on the export side to develop processes for achieving this.

The inspection agencies are now working on systems to identify vehicles subject to recall, and which have been reworked, before they are approved for export.

Vehicles with alpha-type airbags that have not been reworked will be “prohibited imports” and subject to seizure by New Zealand Customs.

VIA will continue to communicate all developments to our members as they arise.

For any questions, please contact VIA Technical Manager Malcolm Yorston on 0800 VIA VIA (842 842) or email technical@via.org.nz.

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Fuel levy may accelerate transition to EVs

The proposed regional fuel levy may help increase demand for electric vehicles and expedite the introduction of charging infrastructure but may also have repercussions for international visitors according to industry experts.

Coby Duggan, Volvo’s NZ General Manager

Volvo’s New Zealand General Manager, Coby Duggan, says an additional levy on the price of fuel would act as a de facto subsidy for EV’s – making them a more attractive financial proposition for car owners.

“The decision to purchase an EV or hybrid is in part, an economic one for many buyers.

“Kiwi motorists already contend with petrol prices which are among the highest in the OECD and as the cost of fuel increases, the appeal of this alternative energy source broadens to include more and more drivers.

“We are already seeing a high uptake among passenger vehicles like taxis which spend a lot of time on the road each day and where the ratio of running costs to capital outlay of the vehicle is much higher.

“A 20 cent per litre increase represents about a 10% increase in the fuel cost which means a driver that spends $130 per week in petrol currently would see this increase to $143 – around $7,436 per year.

“It’s estimated that an EV would cost around the equivalent of 30c per litre or about 13.5% of the running cost of an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle – when factoring in the proportional reduction as more fuel levies are added,” says Duggan.

Jucy COO Dan Alpe says an increase in the price of fuel may make also NZ less attractive for tourists who tour the country long distances in petrol or diesel powered campervans as this can represent a significant proportion of their daily budget.

“Overseas visitors who see the country by campervan could travel over 10,000 thousand KM per trip,” he says.

Alpe says following a successful trial, the company expects to have a fleet of long range, electric campervans on the roads within 12-18 months.

“As the cost of fuel increases, we expect demand for our new EV fleet to rise – we are testing the latest battery technology at the moment to ensure these vehicles can travel the distances between charging points around the country.

“At the same time we are working with popular campgrounds to see more charging stations introduced. As the cost of travel here decreases and becomes more environmentally friendly, New Zealand becomes a more attractive destination for visitors,” he says.

Duggan says while NZ currently does not directly subsidise new EV purchases, other markets around the world have introduced them and have seen the rate of ownership rise substantially.

“In European markets which offer a range of EV ownership incentives such as tax deductions, free public parking, exemption from toll charges, access to bus lanes, exemption from ferry fees, and free charging on public charging points, as many as one in every two new vehicles purchased is electric,” he says.

In New Zealand only 1-2 per cent of new vehicles purchased is a hybrid or fully electric vehicle.

Duggan says Volvo Cars recently announced all new models introduced from 2019 onwards will feature an electric motor, offering a range of hybrid and fully electric alternatives and becoming the first major car manufacturer to make the transition.

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Imports drop across the board

A total of 10,924 used passenger vehicles and 9,999 new passenger vehicles were recorded to have crossed the border last month. Compared with March 2017, both of these markets have fallen, used passenger vehicles by 44.1 per cent and new passenger vehicles by 6.5 per cent.

In terms of the light commercial market, 467 used and 2,953 new commercial vehicles arrived in New Zealand last month – these imports were also down compared to the same month last year, by 10.5 per cent and 18.1 per cent, respectively.

Regarding year to date statistics, three of the four markets recorded a decrease. Used passenger vehicles registered a 29.77 per cent (13,086 units) fall compared to the same period in 2017. Used light commercials registered a 27.15 per cent (515 units) decrease, and new light commercials registered a 6.45 per cent drop (553 units).

Importers brought in 10,154 used cars from Japan – a huge 44.9 per cent decrease compared to March 2017. There was also a fall in used car imports from both Australia and the UK compared with the same month last year – a decrease of 37.9 per cent 60.6 per cent, respectively.

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Faafoi not willing to allow any risk to remain

Hon Kris Faafoi – Source: beehive.govt.nz

Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Kris Faafoi today acted to protect New Zealand drivers and passengers from the unsafe airbags by announcing a compulsory recall of 50,000 Alpha type Takata airbags.

The new measures put in place by Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Kris Faafoi include intensive monitoring of a further 257,000 vehicles also requiring repairs to replace non-Alpha Takata airbags. NZ Transport Agency is also introducing new measures to stop vehicles with affected airbags that have not been remedied from being imported to New Zealand.

“New Zealanders can be assured that this Government is committed to ensuring that these unsafe airbags are removed and replaced as quickly as possible,” says Faafoi. “These airbags have been known to be a risk since 2013 yet the previous Government clearly did not place any importance on keeping New Zealanders safe.

“From today, we now have an agreed timeframe for replacements of Alpha-type airbags, and, after a 40 working day grace period for vehicles already in transit,  no affected new or used vehicles will be able to enter into New Zealand.

“Further, because I am not satisfied that enough progress has been made on other non-Alpha Takata airbag recalls, I have set up a monitoring group that will report monthly on this. If enough progress isn’t made, I will enact a compulsory recall across the board because I am not willing to compromise on the safety of New Zealanders.”

A voluntary recall of vehicles with affected Takata airbags started in New Zealand in 2013, and around 29,000 of the Alpha-type airbags have been replaced. Alpha airbag inflators pose a significantly higher risk of misdeploying in an accident and sending fragments towards vehicle occupants.

A further 257,000 vehicles are subject to a recall for non-Alpha Takata airbags, with a further 116,000 non-Alpha airbags replaced already. A total of more than 450,000 vehicles are known to be affected by Alpha and non-Alpha recalls in New Zealand, and 100 million globally.

Faafoi says the new compulsory recall is focussed on Alpha-type Takata airbags because they present the highest safety risk to drivers and passengers.

“The motor vehicle industry has recalled vehicles with the Takata airbags with varying degrees of success but more must be done to ensure that the highest risk Alpha-type airbags are removed from our vehicle fleet.”

Faafoi says he is pleased that the Motor Industry Association (MIA), which represents new vehicle importers, and the Imported Vehicle Industry Association (VIA), which represents multiple players in the used vehicle importing business, are supporting the new measures.

“I would like to acknowledge the effort some of the new vehicle sellers have made – both in replacing airbags in vehicles they have sold as new and in replacing airbags in vehicles from their marque which were imported by other parties.

“The MIA and VIA are working towards a memorandum of understanding to ensure this work is able to be appropriately resourced and, importantly for the consumer, completed as soon as possible.”

The compulsory recall is only the second enacted in New Zealand, and requires Alpha-type airbags to be replaced by December 2019. It also provides clear guidance and reporting and monitoring to ensure all the necessary recall and remediation work on all vehicles that have Alpha type airbags is undertaken.

“As well as receiving monthly reporting from a monitoring and advisory panel, we will be working very closely with industry to ensure they meet the 31 December 2019 deadline for replacement,” Faafoi says.

The compulsory recall comes into effect 40 working days from today. The recall will be led by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, supported by the NZ Transport Agency.

“I encourage all vehicle owners to check the status of their vehicles airbags. MBIE’s recalls.govt.nz website has information on how to do this and we will, within days, have a website detailing all affected cars.

“While I have been reassured by officials that the risk in New Zealand is comparably low – airbags are more of a concern in humid countries with extremes of temperature – I am not willing to allow any risk to remain while we can remove it.

“MBIE and NZTA will be working across the sector, and with agencies including Citizens Advice Bureau, Consumer New Zealand and the AA to reach as many people as possible and have this important vehicle safety issue addressed.”

The monitoring and advisory panel includes representatives from Consumer New Zealand, the Automobile Association (AA), the Motor Trade Association (MTA), MIA, VIA, MBIE and NZTA.

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Labour sets out transport plan

The Government is proposing a nationwide fuel tax increase of between nine and 12 cents a litre to fund a raft of new land transport plans that focus on investing in road safety and rapid rail.

The Government has issued its 2018 Draft Policy Statement on land transport (GPS), which sets out how funding is allocated between activities such as road safety policing, state highways, local roads, public transport and other modes of transport.

Strategic direction of the GPS 2018

The four strategic priorities are: safety, access, environment and value for money. Safety and access are the key strategic priorities for the Government and reflect the transport system that they are striving for. These key priorities are supported by the priorities of environment and value for money.

This contrasts with National’s policy statement which had economic growth and productivity as the top priority, followed by safety and value for money.

The overall plan

The report states that there will be a funding increase of 46 per cent on public transport to expand the routes available and subsidies for public transport.

$4 billion will be allocated over the next ten years to establish rapid transit investment, such as light rail, initially focusing on Auckland, but would ramp up over time.

The GPS supports investment in safety improvements on state highways and local roads. It supports targeting investment at roads and roadsides that will have the greatest impact on reducing deaths and serious injuries.

The money for regional roads will double from around $90 million a year to $180 million a year in 2019/2020 and up to $210 million for four years after that.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said it is an important step to making roads safer to reduce the road toll.

“We’re going to invest in what makes the most difference – regional and local roads and targeted improvements to the State Highway network.”

“The previous Government did not spend enough on road safety and instead wasted funds on a few low-value motorway projects. This has created an imbalance in what is funded with a few roads benefiting at the expense of other areas.”

Fuel tax increases

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Labour was seeking feedback on proposed fuel tax increases of between 9 and 12 cents a litre to fund its transport proposals.

The tax would be a double whammy for Aucklanders, who can also expect Auckland Council to introduce about 10 cents a litre in regional fuel taxes to pay for major transport projects.

Ardern said National leader Bridges had been told that to meet National’s ambitions, they would need a fuel levy increase of 10-20 cents a litre.

Ardern said the Government was prioritising safety and investing in roads neglected by the former government.
“What you won’t see is investment in a small number of dual carriage highways while local roads and other transport options suffer.”

Incorporating technology and innovation 

Technology is changing many aspects of our lives – and transport is no exception. Transport technologies have the potential to respond to a number of transport challenges by significantly improving, and in some cases transforming, the way people travel, and how freight and services are moved on our network. 

Existing, new and emerging technologies can support the creation of a safer, more efficient and effective transport system. This can be done by having safer and more efficient vehicles, improved access to transport information, and a more connected transport system that provides new ways of managing and optimising how we use what we already have.

Transport technologies and new business models have significant potential to make a positive impact on our environment – making it more liveable, sustainable and resilient.

This will likely involve increasing our ability to use technology to provide the public with better transport services, and provide the infrastructure and services to support electric, connected and autonomous vehicles.

Better access to markets and business areas

This result primarily has an economic focus on goods reaching their destination efficiently. The focus is on national routes where access constraints at specific points are limiting business productivity.

Generally, New Zealand’s existing road network is reasonably well developed and provides a high level of access for light and heavy vehicles at a national and local level.

However, moving goods by road may not be the best option. We need to consider providing a higher level of access to markets via rail or coastal shipping. This increased access may reduce other costs such as greenhouse gas emissions, deaths and serious injuries.

Reduce transport’s negative effects on the global climate

Reducing the accumulative effects of transport on the environment, such as those caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

The Government is committed to taking decisive action on climate change and setting a more ambitious emissions reduction target for 2050.

An improvement in the vehicles and fuels that are used, such as promoting greater uptake of low-emission and electric vehicles.

 

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NZ dealer wins major Rolls-Royce award

Another New Zealand dealership has won a significant international and regional award, with Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Auckland named Provenance Dealer of the Year in the British luxury marque’s annual Global Dealer Awards program.

Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, said, “The Awards recognise exceptional customer service and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars London has set a new global standard. I congratulate all the successful dealers.”

Auckland’s win as Provenance Dealer of the Year was no small feat among an international network of 138 dealerships across more than 50 countries.

Rolls-Royce Auckland is jointly owned by prominent New Zealand retail motor industry executive Ian Gibson and Collins Asset Management, with Mr Gibson serving as managing director of the dealership as well as Auckland City BMW and Mini.

Ruwan Siriwardena is brand manager and Des Parsons is responsible for after sales at the Newmarket-based dealership, which has previously won major regional awards and a global award for best after sales incentive.

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Truck importer ordered to pay $54,000

Toyota Dyna Truck

A truck importer who sold a Toyota truck with 32,335 kilometres on its odometer has been ordered to compensate the buyer $54,000 after it was discovered the vehicle’s engine had done at least 200,000 kilometres. 

On 3 March 2017, Evan Ball purchased a 2010 Toyota Dyna truck from Kobe Export New Zealand Ltd (Kobe Export).

The Consumer Information Notice provided to Ball stated that the vehicle had an odometer reading of 32,335 kms at the point of sale.

A couple of months later, Ball noticed that the vehicle was overheating. After an assessment, it was found that the vehicle had combustion gases in the cooling system, damage to three cylinders and head gasket failure. 

Consequently, Ball asked Kobe Export to rectify the damage, however they refused to do so.

They alleged that the engine damage was caused by Ball’s use of the vehicle, in particular the slide on camper that was installed by Ball had not been properly attached, creating drag and subsequently causing the vehicle to overheat.

They also suggested that Ball was an inexperienced truck driver, and his driving of the vehicle may have contributed to the damage.

Ball then went to the Motor Vehicle Tribunal, claiming that he was entitled to a refund of all amounts paid in respect of the vehicle.

It was found that Kobe Exports misled Ball as to the distance that the vehicle’s engine had travelled and as to the mechanical condition of the vehicle.

Tribunal assessor, Shane Haynes advised that there is no way that the engine in the vehicle had travelled only 32,335 kms. Haynes also considered that the engine’s condition suggests that it has travelled at least 200,000 kms. 

Adjudicator Brett Carter said the engine was likely to have been replaced before Kobe Export bought the truck, and that “Kobe Export had no knowledge that the vehicle’s engine had been swapped.”

However, Carter said Kobe Export had breached the Fair Trading Act by misleading the Balls.

“The vehicle’s odometer reading was accurate, but the implicit representation that the vehicle’s engine had travelled the same distance was not … The fact that Kobe Export may not have known that the vehicle’s engine had been replaced with an engine in poor condition provides it with no defence,” Carter said.

Accordingly, Kobe Export was ordered to pay Ball $54,150.60, which included storing the vehicle, insurance and assessment costs.

Click here to read the full case.

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Uber moves down South

Ride-sharing company, Uber will expand into Dunedin and Queenstown in the next coming months.

Dunedin and Queenstown will be the sixth and seventh cities in New Zealand to accomodate the ride-sharing company. 

Uber New Zealand general manager Richard Menzies said Uber was exploring options to expand into Otago, almost four years after it was first made available in Auckland.

Locals would have the opportunity to earn extra income by signing up as drivers and the company would be holding information sessions next month, Mr Menzies said.

By expanding into the two locations, Uber was aiming to alleviate pressure on existing taxi services during weekends and major events like rugby games, he said.

Fares and pricing would be set closer to the launch date.

The San Francisco-based company will start advertising for drivers next week and information sessions will be held in Dunedin on April 11 and Queenstown on April 12.

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Large-scale EV uptake in NZ – issues and solutions

Electric vehicles (EVs) are the way of the future, but will our electricity network be able to cope with the projected growth? And what will the increased uptake do to our electricity prices? 

Two reports have been released over the past couple of weeks on the issue: Lines company, Vector, said in their report that there could be problems in the future if all EV owners chose to charge their vehicles during peak times or use faster charging options.

While another report prepared by Concept Consulting Group Ltd (Concept) for electricity distributing companies, warned that a continuation of the current electricity pricing approach could result in higher costs and emissions.

Current issues

Concept and the three network companies who sponsored the report, think EVs have the potential to be a fantastic opportunity for New Zealand, however, they also believe that current electricity supply arrangements will frustrate the realisation of these benefits and could also result in EV uptake causing unnecessary costs.

Concept’s report stipulates that the current approach for charging for electricity, which is predominantly ‘flat’ $/kWh prices, will frustrate the achievement of the benefits of having an EV and also result in unnecessary costs being incurred.

EV-owners will pay significantly more than they should for charging their vehicles. This will slow the rate of uptake of EVs, significantly increasing New Zealand’s emissions and increasing overall economic costs.

“Those households who do purchase EVs will mostly adopt a ‘passive’ approach for re-charging their batteries: i.e. simply plugging-in and starting charging as soon as they get home. Unfortunately, early evening after getting back from work is also the time of peak electricity demand,” says the report. 

The scale of demand from EVs is such that this will soon start to trigger expensive network capacity investments in many areas. Plus, additional fossil-fuelled generation will be required if charging is done at times of peak usage.

Overall, Concept estimates that a permanent continuation of current pricing approaches will result in unnecessary increased costs of approximately $4bn (in present value terms, or $14bn in future cost terms), and CO2 emissions from internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEs) being over one-third greater in 2050.

Potential solutions

EVs are a great opportunity for New Zealand  in terms of reducing emissions and delivering lower transport, but the current way we charge consumers for electricity means that EV owners are being charged too much for electricity.

“Electricity pricing options which apply to the whole of a household will likely be inadequate to meet the special challenges of EVs,” says the report.

‘Time-of-use’ (TOU) pricing (e.g. having a peak/off-peak pricing structure based on preset times) will not deliver good long-term outcomes in relation to EV demand. TOU pricing will likely create new demand spikes with a majority of EVs simultaneously charging from the start of the off-peak period.

“EV-specific managed-charging pricing” is the report’s preferred option.

“This would involve consumers agreeing to another party (e.g. retailer, load aggregator, or network company) managing their EV charging, in return for discounted network and/or energy pricing for such managed EV load.”

“This approach recognises the distinct nature of EV load, with its storage characteristics, and would deliver materially better outcomes of smoothed coordinated charging of New Zealand’s EV fleet and lowering the cost of EV charging to consumers, but in a way which has reduced risk of causing bill-shocks for consumers.”

Simon Coats, the author of the Concept Consulting Report, spoke with Radio New Zealand this morning about the issue and discussed how other countries are dealing with the problems arising with EV uptake.

In Germany, Nissan have started trialling separate EV metering, vehicle to grid charging (V2G). German owners give Nissan the right to determine when they should charge their vehicle, and also to use their vehicle to feed the energy into their home or grid. 

This means, once a nominal charge has been paid for the installation of a V2G charger there are no fuel or energy costs; just free power for your EV.

ChargeNet’s view

However Steve West, head of ChargeNet, suggests that these reports may be anticipating a problem that there might not be.

“Vehicle manufacturers have a vision of the future which is quite different to these reports. They foresee a replication of the petrol station experience,” said West to Radio New Zealand.

“Very soon, we will see charging rates of 300kw plus in the public charging space, which means around 15 minutes to charge your car.” 

These charging stations are just about to be deployed in Europe, it is inevitable that they will end up in New Zealand in the next year or two says West. 

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