Value of the car

The immense value that cars add to our lives is easily taken for granted. For many of us, cars offer huge advantages over other types of transport, including greater mobility and convenience, and handy carrying capacity.

Cars in New Zealand

Cars have made a tremendous contribution to the New Zealand way of life. As well as getting us from A to B, they open up access to destinations and possibilities we'd otherwise never know. It doesn't really matter if your car is modest, it still gets you to the same beaches and picnic spots as the guy in the sports car.

Whether you're a young licence holder or senior driver, cars empower us to be independent and reach out to others. Your outlook on life can improve just by knowing you have the freedom to jump in the car and get a change of scene, or visit a friend.  Cars are central to family life, from carrying the groceries to making emergency trips to the doctor. Just as importantly, vehicles generate wealth by offering access to economic and employment opportunities.

It's sometimes argued that cars foster isolation - for example single occupant vehicles stuck in motorway traffic - but more usually they bring New Zealanders together.

Advantages that cars offer over public transport

Walking, cycling and public transport can help us do all these things, but for many people and for many trips they're simply not convenient, reliable or safe enough. For some New Zealanders public transport is an essential part of their daily travel, especially for those living and commuting in major urban centres, but there are others for whom public transport isn't convenient at all. In the provinces and rural New Zealand bus and train services are often non-existent and economically unviable, with greater distances and population spread.

Commuting is only one part of our travel though. Even dedicated public transport commuters opt for the car - or a friend's car - to get to the doctor or supermarket, and make the most of their leisure time. It's usually not possible to get to that remote beach or tramping spot on the bus.

Cars also offer a high level of personal security. Many women, in particular, feel safer in their own car than using public transport or waiting at the bus stop at night.

As for the harm cars cause to the environment, the good news is they're not as bad as many people think. In New Zealand, private cars account for less than 8% of our geenhouse gas emissions. Motorists are becoming more aware of the ways they can limit their impact on the environment, for example fuel efficient driving, choosing cars with smaller engines, and substituting some trips for walking, cycling or public transport.

New Zealand's vehicle greenhouse gas emissions are increasing as our economy grows, but offsetting this is the fact that modern cars are getting 'cleaner' as technology improves. Over time, low emission vehicles and those using alternative fuels will form a larger proportion of New Zealand's vehicle fleet.

AA speaking up for motorists

The AA champions the value of the car

On behalf of its 1.35 million AA Members, the AA champions the value of the car to New Zealand's prosperity and way of life. To speak up for the rights of motorists is to promote the values that the car stands for: personal freedom, social mobility, and collective and personal responsibility.

AA Members also value other forms of transport

The AA is a voice of support for the mobility of Members. AA Members' interests extend beyond cars and roads - they also rely on public transport, cycling and walking.

AA Members want New Zealand to have a practical and balanced transport system, including public transport, which preserves the freedom and mobility provided by their cars. Members want a transport system that is responsive, safe, reasonably priced and environmentally sustainable.

Did you know?

  • 80% of New Zealanders' travelling time is spent driving or as a passenger in cars
  • New Zealanders drive on average about 12,000 km per year in their cars
  • New Zealand has one of the highest car ownership rates in the world, at around 627 cars per 1,000 people

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