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Minister tweaks law for imports

Used vehicles will no longer have to “enter into service” within four months of being border-inspected.
Posted on 16 April, 2024
Minister tweaks law for imports

The government has announced a change to emissions rules that could have created chaos and extra costs across the used-imports sector.

It has removed a requirement in the regulations so used vehicles must no longer enter service within four months of being border-checked.

The action follows concerns being raised by the Imported Motor Vehicle Industry Association (VIA) over a clause inserted into an amendment to the Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Exhaust Emissions 2007 last year.

The clause meant the updated regulations would have required imports inspected at the border before April 30 to “enter into service” within four months.

VIA has spent the past few months working with officials from the NZ Transport Agency and Ministry of Transport (MoT) to get the wording changed or removed.

That has now been done. Simeon Brown, Minister of Transport, says: “The previous government rushed through a change two days before the election that raised the risk of vehicles with harmful emissions entering the fleet.

This error also increased the costs on imported vehicles.

“The rushed amendment ended up introducing a requirement for vehicles to be registered within four months of entering the country, rather than prior to their intended use on a road. 

“This meant car importers would end up paying vehicle registration for vehicles that were not ready to be used.

“This drafting error created uncertainty for businesses, and could financially impact the dealers and importers of used imported vehicles. 

“Left unchanged, this error would have affected around 15,000 vehicles and imposed unnecessary registration costs of around $2 million per year that would have increased retail prices.”

Brown, pictured, adds he would like to thank Greig Epps, VIA’s chief executive, for highlighting the error “and working constructively with us to right this wrong”.

The minster says: “This is a small change, but one that will benefit firms and people importing and purchasing used vehicles. 

“The previous government rushed through changes that added costs and complexity to everyday life. We are working through them, putting things right and reducing the cost pressures on Kiwis at the same time.”

All used light vehicles currently crossing the border must meet the Euro 4 standard or its equivalents, but they will move to Euro 5 from April 30 and then Euro 6d from July 1, 2028.

As for new light vehicles, they currently have to meet Euro 5. The updated rule means newly introduced models – that’s to say ones not previously sold here – will have to match Euro 6d, or equivalent standards, from July 1, 2027.

Existing models have another year until the regulations change and they will move to the Euro 6d criteria from July 1, 2028.

Last-minute change

Autofile has been closely covering issues raised by VIA over the clause that would have required used imports to be border-inspected before April 30 to “enter into service” within four months of arriving in New Zealand.

The April issue of the magazine, published online on April 5, reported that “a last-minute change to the new exhaust emissions rule is expected just weeks before it comes into effect”.

Up until then, VIA had been working with officials from the NZTA and MoT to get the wording changed or removed.

The association says there was no mention of such a proviso during public consultation on the rule in 2023, that it caught VIA and its members by surprise, and would put financial pressure on dealers to get vehicles registered.

However, chief executive Greig Epps was confident officials would deliver a positive resolution to the problem before used-imported light vehicles had to meet tougher emissions standards from the end of this month.

Following representations from VIA, the NZTA announced in March that it was revisiting the amendment over concerns about possible impacts on the used-imports sector and that it was working with the MoT “to develop a solution”.

Epps told Autofile: “Moving forward, it makes it all the clearer that the government needs to keep a good dialogue with industry about regulations it’s planning to put in place.

“It is also recognition of the importance of industry bodies such as VIA being able to have conversations with government and helping it understand the impact of proposed regulations.

“Without the constant pressure we have put on the NZTA and MoT over the past two months about the wording in the vehicle exhaust emissions rule, we probably wouldn’t be getting a solution. 

“It’s been a long process and unfortunate we’ve had to go through it. But we’re positive about a solution going forward. It’s been a salutary lesson in how industry and government need to interact on rule developments.”

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