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New autoliner route direct to NZ

Automakers will have another shipping option from the United States to New Zealand and Australia when Hoeegh Autoliners begins offering a monthly direct service from the Port of Baltimore in March. 

The impetus for the new route is a new contract with a ‘Detroit three’ automaker (General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Fiat Chrysler), Shane Warren, head of the Americas region, told Automotive News.

He declined to identify the customer.

Car manufacturing in Australia ended last year when General Motors (GM) closed its Holden operations in South Australia. Toyota Motor Corp. closed its operations in neighbouring Victoria and Ford terminated production at two plants in Victoria the previous year.

Currently Hoeegh requires going through ports in Europe, where vehicles are transferred to another vessel, however the new monthly service will have faster transit times and require less handling, which minimises the potential for damage.

“Time to market is important for the customer,” Warren said.

Hoeegh’s service puts it in direct competition with Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, who also offers direct ocean service to the Australia and New Zealand region from the U.S. 

The Hoeegh vessels will originate in Europe and discharge vehicles in Baltimore before being loaded with exports from the unnamed customer.

Vessels also will stop in Jacksonville, Fla., another major auto port, before heading through the Panama Canal to the Mexican port of Lazaro Cardenas, where vehicles produced by the Detroit 3 car company also will be loaded.

The rotation will continue through the ports of Auckland, Brisbane, Port Kembla, Melbourne and Fremantle.

Höegh Autoliners


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KPMG’s latest report on AVs

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are set to revolutionise not only transportation but the way people both live and work.

KPMG’s 2018 Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index (AVRI) provides an in-depth view of what it takes for countries to meet the challenges of self-driving cars and which countries are most prepared for their arrival.

The Index evaluates each country according to four pillars that are integral to a country’s capacity to adopt and integrate AVs. These include: policy & legislation; technology & innovation, infrastructure and consumer acceptance.

Is New Zealand ready for an AV-driven future?

On policy and legislation, New Zealand received a score of 7.92 out of 10, putting them ahead of the Netherlands, in second place. The high score was due to New Zealand’s coherent AV regulation and also having a dedicated department to deal with AV regulation.

New Zealand legislation does not explicitly require a vehicle to have a driver present for the car to be used on the road, which allows the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) to provide support to those undertaking AV testing.

New Zealand is also collaborating with Australia to minimise duplication and share knowledge on AVs. The collaboration demonstrates how countries can pool resources to develop and improve autonomous vehicles.  New Zealand is also known for its particularly transparent regulatory framework; the World Economic Forum rated New Zealand highly for law-making and legal efficiency.

“New Zealand is affluent and large enough to support meaningful product trials, but small enough to prevent teething troubles damaging the reputation of a technology or company. Microsoft, Facebook and drone delivery company Flirtey have used it as a development lab. Christchurch has hosted the world’s first fully AV trial at an international airport,” says Jesse Phillips Director, Deal Advisory KPMG in New Zealand.

The country was ranked fifth in terms of consumer acceptance due to good rating from KPMG’ Change Readiness Index, as well as having AV testing in areas of high population density. It also offers a wide range of climatic conditions within a relatively small area.

New Zealand however scores less well on technology and innovation. KPMG’s research found there were no AV company headquarters, patents or major investments in the AV field, even though New Zealand has the third-highest market share of electric cars.

On infrastructure, New Zealand has landed in the bottom five due to low levels of 4G coverage outside of heavily populated areas, few charging stations and middling rating for road quality and road infrastructure.

How well did other countries do?

The Netherlands is the clear leader, it ranked within the top four of each of the four pillars and ranked number one on infrastructure. Netherlands has by far the highest density of electrical vehicle charging points, with 26,789 publicly-available points in 2016, according to the International Energy Agency’s Global EV Outlook.

“The Dutch ecosystem for AVs is ready. The intensively-used Dutch roads are very well developed and maintained and other indicators like telecoms infrastructure are also very strong. In addition, the Dutch government Ministry of Infrastructure has opened the public roads to largescale tests with self-driving passenger cars and lorries,” says Stijn de Groen, Manager, Digital Advisory KPMG in the Netherlands.

Australia was ranked reasonably well on the index. Several cities are hosting AV trials however, improvements to roads and electric charging infrastructure would help with its AV readiness.

Road transport relies on the quality of road infrastructure as well as the regulatory environment that determine access to that infrastructure. Poor showings on infrastructure undermines the ambitions of New Zealand.

The Netherlands leads this index because it performs strongly across all four pillars of research, showing how both its private and public sectors are highly engaged.


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Best year ever for imports

2017 was the best year ever for imports with 331,641 new and used passenger and commercial vehicles entering the country – a 10.2 per cent increase compared to the 300,976 that arrived in 2016.

This was down to vehicle import numbers increasing in three out of the four import categories last year:

Used car imports accumulated to a massive 171,543 for 2017 – the highest it has ever reached. This was an increase of 12.4 per cent on 2016’s total of 152,676. 

New light commercials also had a stellar year with a 26 per cent increase on 2016, from 29,852 to 37,614 units. 

New passenger vehicle imports were also up with 115,019 units imported into the country in 2017 – an increase of 3.7 per cent on 2016 when 110,940 crossed the border. 

Used light commercial vehicles was the only segment to decrease in numbers, with 7,465 units imported – a 0.6 per cent decrease year on year compared to 2016. 

For the month of December, 13,097 used cars were imported, with Japan taking a 93.78 per cent of the monthly share – with 12,283 vehicles imported. Australia followed with 435 and a 3.32 per cent monthly share. Meanwhile, 150 vehicles were imported from Great Britain, with 1.15 per cent share of the monthly aggregation in used passenger vehicles.
Imports from Japan made the biggest gains in 2017 – monthly averages were some of the highest we had ever seen, with a huge 18,426 vehicles being imported back in March. 

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Coromandel’s new scenic tour

The Coromandel EV Scenic Touring Route is in full swing.

The chargers have been installed due to the collaboration of Thames-Coromandel District Council, Charge Net NZ, Powerco, and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.

Powerco Chief Executive Nigel Barbour says, with the Coromandel being a popular holiday destination for both New Zealanders and overseas visitors, the loop will provide an important network.

Barbour states, “EVs are undoubtedly the future of domestic transport in New Zealand, they are cheaper, cleaner and quieter to run.”

“We hope the loop will give locals and visitors alike the confidence to travel around the region by EV, helping safeguard the environment for generations to come.”

The chargers give up to 80 per cent charge in 10 to 25 minutes and are able to be accessed via an RFID card, which drivers tap against the charging unit to activate, or via a smartphone app.

To sign up to the system, go to the Charge Net NZ website.

Powerco now has 10 public-use fast-charge EV stations connected to its network, in conjunction with ChargeNet NZ. 

EV fast-charger station locations:
Thames: Library carpark, 503 Mackay St
Tairua: 6 Tokoroa Rd
Whitianga: 2 Lee St
Coromandel Town: 44 Woollams Ave
Whangamata: Corner of Hetherington Rd and Port Rd, by the police station. 

Click here to find out more.

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Kiwi economy on the rise

Spending on durable goods, which includes passenger cars drives household spending up 0.9 per cent.

Economic performance, measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), grew 0.6 per cent in the September 2017 quarter, following a revised 1.0 per cent growth in the June quarter, Stats NZ said.

Household spending was up 0.9 per cent from the previous June quarter. This was driven by spending on durable goods, which includes passenger cars and services. 

Spending on durable goods increased 2.3 per cent, due to increased spending on clothing, furniture, audio-visual equipment and furnishings. 

Construction industry was the main instigator of economic growth
Construction activity rebounded in the September 2017 quarter, up 3.6 percent after falls in the previous two quarters.

Investment in other construction (infrastructure) and residential buildings reported strong increases. Expenditure on road and rail infrastructure were the key drivers of investment in infrastructure, which experienced its strongest increase since 2007. 

“Construction activity recovered this quarter, unwinding the previous two quarterly falls,” national accounts senior manager Gary Dunnet said. “This reflected higher construction-related investment, with investment in infrastructure and residential buildings also reporting strong increases.” 

Services Industry
Service industries continued to grow steadily, up 0.6 percent in the September 2017 quarter.

Industries that contributed most to this growth were health care and residential care; business services; and arts, recreation and other services.

GDP per capita up over the quarter
GDP per capita was up 0.2 percent in the September 2017 quarter, after a revised 0.5 percent growth in the June 2017 quarter.

For the year ended September 2017, GDP per capita was up 0.8 percent.

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6,000 EVs registered in NZ

More than 6,000 electric vehicles (EVs) are now registered in New Zealand, an early Christmas for the EV community. 

More than 6,000 electric vehicles are charging along New Zealand roads.

This time last year there were 2,547 EVs registered and numbers have increased 136% in the year.

This year’s 3,485 total registrations were made up of 2,154 used electric cars, 62 per cent of 2017 registrations followed by 649 new electric cars, 19 per cent of registrations. 

Not surprisingly Auckland continues to lead the charge to EV ownership regionally. Auckland accounts for 50% of the light EV fleet, a total of 2864 vehicles, considerably above its share of the nation’s population (34%)

On a per capita basis, Auckland is clearly ahead of the Canterbury region fleet (696) and Wellington (679). The units of EVs registered in Auckland has increased 117 per cent since December 2016 when the fleet size was only 1,319.

Infrastructure and charging stations are ever-expanding across the New Zealand to support the growing number of EVs on our roads. The amount of  fast chargers available throughout the length of the country are also increasing, giving EV drivers greater confidence on longer journeys.

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NZ student awarded internship

McLaren Automotive has awarded an international internship to an engineering student from the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Following in the footsteps of Bruce McLaren, McLaren’s New Zealand born founder, Thomas Evans has been awarded the international internship. McLaren studied at the University of Auckland before travelling to England on a similar “Driver to Europe” scholarship nearly 60 years ago, founding his racing company in 1963.

Thomas will spend around nine weeks at the iconic McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, Surrey, England where he will work alongside the company’s research and development engineers as well as gaining an understanding of other key areas of the business.

McLaren Automotive announces second Bruce McLaren International Internship winner.

Since Thomas began studying, he has been involved with a group of engineering students at the University who design and manufacture a single-seater race car every year. His academic studies have explored automotive design and he is passionate about motorsport.

“I’m honoured to have been chosen to be the second recipient of the Bruce McLaren International Internship. Automotive engineering is a field that is very hard to get into so to get an opportunity like this with McLaren is amazing and not something I ever dared dream would be possible. I excited to get to McLaren, meet the people and get started,” says Thomas.

Commenting on the internship, Amanda McLaren, Bruce’s daughter and Brand Ambassador for McLaren Automotive said: “It’s a great honour to have an international internship named after my father and I’m grateful to both McLaren Automotive and the University of Auckland, where my father studied, for supporting and making this happen to benefit young engineering talent.

“I know my father would be very proud of what McLaren has become as we now build some of the world’s most iconic sportscars and supercars. I’m sure he would be equally proud of the internship which also celebrates the strong links between Britain and New Zealand that exist today. I can’t wait to meet Thomas and I know he will get a lot out of his time here, working with and learning from all the teams across the business.”

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Focus on emissions

Murray Sherwin, Chairman of Productivity Commission.

Agriculture is the largest source of emissions, primarily methane, in New Zealand. The second largest source is transport – particularly vehicles. These sources account for two-thirds of emissions, while forestry sequesters almost 30 per cent of the country’s gross emissions.

“Climate change is one of the most serious issues we face,” says Murray Sherwin, chairman of Productivity Commission. “How New Zealand responds to its international commitment to reducing GHG emissions will have major implications for our future.”

“The issues paper [on a low-emissions economy] gives us the opportunity to share what we know, and ask questions about important areas where more information and discussion is required.”

The inquiry aims to “identify options” for how New Zealand could reduce its domestic GHG emissions by moving towards a lower-emissions future. “Action to mitigate GHG emissions will require significant changes, which will have disruptive and potentially painful impacts on some businesses and households,” the issues report states.

“These changes mean the shift will be profound and widespread – transforming land use, the energy system, production methods and technology, regulatory frameworks and institutions, and business and political culture.”

Substantial and sustained reductions in global GHG emissions are required to limit rises in global temperatures and climate change.

Recently, New Zealand submitted its first nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement to reduce its emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The most long-term target, set in 2011, aims to cut them to 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The commission says there are no technical barriers to generate more electricity from renewable sources. The relative cost and efficiency of renewables, such as wind power, make them a price-competitive option.

Wind generation could meet the increased demand from the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) up to 2040.

Complementary technologies, particularly batteries, are also falling in price. New Zealand’s seasonal pattern of demand favours more use of wind than solar power.

Wind generation could meet the increased demand from the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) up to 2040, with charging of EVs when there’s lower grid demand, such as late at night.  Distributed generation and possible use of batteries to even out peak load, and of EVs as “batteries”, are likely to require more flexible pricing and network capabilities than now.

Current policies include the government targeting an increase in the proportion of renewable electricity to 90 per cent by 2025. After the metal industry, the next biggest source of industrial emissions comes from HFCs used to replace ozone-depleting substances in refrigeration and air-conditioning units.

Intervention to cut emissions in some parts of the economy can have flow-on effects for demand and opportunities to reduce emissions in other parts of the economy. For instance, converting the vehicle fleet to electricity would increase the demand for electricity generation and increase demand for new renewable sources for New Zealand to meet its mitigation targets.

Effects of EVs on the overall demand for renewable electricity, could, in turn be managed through timing the charging of EVs, and the possible use of their “batteries” to store electricity for sale back to the grid.

Lithium-ion battery costs have reduced by 73 per cent over the past seven years, making EVs cost-competitive with ICEs far earlier than most predictions.

Forests could be used to produce a renewable source of woody biomass to generate heat for industry or biofuels. Norske Skog Tasman and Z Energy recently investigated this for New Zealand. The evaluation concluded that, while technically feasible, using biomass to produce fuel was of doubtful commercial viability given “the current global economic and energy outlook”.

The viability of using biomass for energy hinges on low-value feedstocks, short transport lines and efficient digestion of biomass.

The commission will be investigate if some core policies could be used to cut emissions, such as direct regulation, market-based approaches, and support for innovation and technology. An example of a standard-based approach is 2007 Land Transport Rule on Vehicle Exhaust Emissions, which is enforced by the NZTA.

An example of regulation is France is banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040. Then there are market-based approaches, such as the Irish government linking vehicle registration and annual circulation taxes to CO2 emissions. 

In New Zealand, the 2016 EVs Programme exempts light and heavy electric vehicles from RUC until they make up two per cent of their respective fleets.

As for supporting innovation, New Zealand may not need to develop many of the technologies required itself, but it needs to ensure they are able to be used effectively – for example, the country’s uptake of EVs in New Zealand illustrates this point.

Adaptive systems are also on the agenda. For example, lithium-ion battery costs have reduced by 73 per cent over the past seven years, making EVs cost-competitive with ICEs far earlier than most predictions.

Read more about the automotive industry’s views on emissions in the December 2017 issue of Autofile magazine.


One of the main weaknesses of manufacturing an EV battery is that it produces higher emissions than making an ICV.

THE PROS & CONS OF EVs – Productivity Commission

Substantially reduce emissions compared with internal combustion vehicles (ICVs).
EVs already used in New Zealand.
Similar road performance to ICVs.
Substantially cheaper to use than ICVs – equivalent to about 30c per litre.
Electricity grid already established.
Most of New Zealand’s electricity is from renewable energy.
Ability to charge EVs by plugging in at home.
Cost of EV batteries likely to drop over time.

Developing on-road charging infrastructure is expensive.
At present, smaller travel ranges than ICVs.
Manufacturing an EV battery produces higher emissions than making an ICV.
Charging EVs adds demand to the electricity grid.
It’s currently slower to recharge an EV than to refuel an ICV.
Disposal of EV batteries can cause negative environmental impacts.

Making cement from tyres

In June 2017, the government announced funding of $18.6 million to shift the heat source for making cement from coal to waste tyres. New Zealand generates about five million unwanted tyres a year, making them a viable ongoing industrial fuel source.

The substitution of rubber biofuel for coal by a major grant recipient, Golden Bay Cement – New Zealand’s fifth largest single emitter of GHGs – will cut emissions by 13,000 tonnes a year. The company will burn 3.1 million waste tyres a year – the equivalent of taking about 6,000 cars off the road.

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VR app for learner drivers

The NZ Transport Agency, together with ACC, have created a virtual reality app, Drive VR to help young New Zealanders gain the necessary experience and confidence at critical driving tasks such as observational skills.

They will be challenged to spot hazards, check blind spots and mirrors, and look out of windows.

The NZTA believes that the app gives learner drivers a taste of using their observation skills as they are required to do in practical driving tests, but in virtual reality. It can be used anywhere with their personal device – including at home or in the classroom.

They will be challenged to spot hazards, check blind spots and mirrors, and look out of windows—all from a virtual driver’s seat. Observation skills are tracked, so learners can keep improving on their high score.

Drive VR is made by Government agencies ACC and the NZ Transport Agency. It is part of the Drive programme that helps young people learn what they need to for every step of the licence process – from the learner licence theory test all the way through to getting their full licence.

“From speaking to hundreds of young Kiwis, we know that many of them feel daunted by driving practical tests and freeze up when it comes to doing them in real life,” says ACC Road Injury Prevention Manager, Dr. Simon Gianotti.

“We also know drivers who are more aware of others on the road and who are better at spotting hazards are safer drivers,” he says.

“We wanted to help them feel more comfortable behind the wheel by giving them the opportunity to practise their observation skills from the comfort of their own home. Nothing replaces real life practice but this new VR experience is an incredible tool in helping prepare safe, skilled young drivers.”

People can download the free app onto their mobile device. It’s best used with Google Cardboard virtual reality headsets for a more immersive experience– thousands of these are being given away on the Drive website.

For a chance to win Drive VR goggles or to find out more information Click Here

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AA Car of the Year Awards

Tomorrow night AA Motoring and the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild will announce the winners of the 2017 New Zealand Car of the Year awards tonight.

Autofile will be reporting live from the event. Keep up to date on all the action as it happens by following us on Facebook and Twitter as the night unfolds.

The annual awards will take place this year at Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre, recognising top-performing motors across a range of categories that have excelled in their field.

The New Zealand Car of the Year finalists.

Electric vehicles have their own category for the first time to reflect the increasing numbers available and growing market interest. However, electric vehicles aren’t new to the New Zealand Car of the Year line up, with the BMW i3 taking top honours in 2015.

Robert Barry, New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild President says the inclusion of an EV category is timely.  “It reflects not only the growing market but also that this technology is becoming a more affordable and reliable mobility solution for the New Zealand motorist.”

The New Zealand Car of the Year is in two parts. The Car of the Year award which is selected from a top 10 list of finalists chosen by a panel in October. To be eligible, the car must have been released in the New Zealand market between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017. 

This year’s finalists are:

  • BMW 5 series
  • Holden Astra
  • Honda Civic hatch
  • Hyundai Ioniq
  • Land Rover Discovery
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Skoda Kodiaq
  • Subaru XV
  • Suzuki Ignis
  • Suzuki Swift

“This year the top 10 line up represents a great cross section of new cars available to the market today from lower cost small cars loaded with technology to very practical and more expensive luxury vehicles,” Stocks says.

Its cutting-edge technology and world-class styling helped Mercedes-Benz E Class become the clear winner at last year’s AA Car of the Year awards.

Left to right – Ben Griffin (Mercedes-Benz) David O’Kane (MITO) at last year’s awards.

The Best in Class awards are selected from any new car on sale now in each category. This means a make and model released in previous years could beat out a newer car in its class. For example, the Ford Ranger was selected winner of the Best Utility class for the last five years.

The safest car for 2017 will also be announced at the December 12 event based on Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP) crash test results.

The New Zealand Car of the Year People’s Choice award will also be announced on December 12. From November 1, the public will have a chance to vote for one of the top 10 finalists on the AA’s website and earn a chance to win a 9-day Pacific islands cruise for two.

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Safety rating comes with warning

ANCAP safety ratings for three new market entrants demonstrate the role in ANCAP’s independent safety testing.The Hyundai Kona and Holden Equinox both achieved the maximum 5 star safety rating. The MG ZS scored 4 stars.

Frontal offset of the Holden Equinox.

“SUVs are now the top-selling vehicle segment in Australia and New Zealand and these ratings speak clearly that some are safer than others,” said ANCAP Chief Executive, Mr James Goodwin.

“We were impressed earlier this year with the safety performance of MG’s larger GS model – the very first Chinese vehicle to achieve the top safety rating – however its smaller stablemate, the ZS, does not perform as well. Its rating is held back to 4 stars due to sub-par performance in our head-on crash test.”

The MG ZS scored 10.46 points out of 16.00 points in the frontal offset crash test. Insufficient inflation of the passenger airbag caused ‘bottoming-out’ of the dummy head through the airbag and onto the dash, and a penalty was applied.

Protection for the driver’s knee area was also insufficient. The ZS does not offer any form of autonomous emergency braking (AEB) or lane support functions.

Frontal offset of the MGZS.

In contrast one of its segment competitors, the Hyundai Kona, saw higher levels of protection offered to vehicle occupants.

“The Kona offers good all-round safety,” Mr Goodwin said.

Hyundai Kona

“Its crash test performance was well within 5 star range, and AEB is offered for all variants though it must be optioned on the base variant in Australia. AEB is, however, a standard inclusion on all New Zealand variants.”

“The Equinox is also a good structural performer in all physical crash tests, but consumers will need to opt for higher-specced variants to receive the added safety benefits of AEB and lane keep assist,” he said.

A 5 star ANCAP safety rating applies to all Hyundai Kona and Holden Equinox variants. A 4 star rating applies to all MG ZS variants.

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