There's a good reason many of us like older cars - they're cheaper! Cheaper cars have helped give New Zealanders freedom of mobility, even those on a tight budget. It's partly due to the affordability of used imports that New Zealand's car ownership rate is one of the highest in the world - about 627 cars per 1,000 people.
How New Zealand compares
The average age of a New Zealand car is around 14 years, which is older than many other developed countries. When it comes time to upgrade, some motorists opt for an older car rather than a newer model because it seems like better value. However, newer cars have advantages over older cars that are easily overlooked when price is the number one priority.
Did you know?
The average age of a New Zealand car is about 12 years old. With around 627 cars per 1,000 people, New Zealand's car ownership rate is one of the world's highest.
Newer cars offer key advantages
Motoring technology moves at a fast pace. Newer cars are more economical and environmentally-friendly than those manufactured even five years ago. Newer cars are also much safer. In used car safety ratings, the worst performing cars are pre-1990 models, demonstrating the improvements in occupant protection in newer vehicles, for example better crash performance, airbags, electronic stability control, ABS brakes, and pre-tensioning seatbelts. What about classic cars? Owners of older classic cars usually maintain their vehicles to a high standard. They're enthusiasts who are mindful of the limitations of their vehicle, and drive accordingly.
AA speaking up for motorists
Any vehicle, no matter what the age, must be fit for the road or it should not be driven.
More incentives for motorists to upgrade their cars
The AA welcomes incentives that encourage motorists to upgrade their older cars for newer models. Over time, a reduction in the age of the New Zealand vehicle fleet will result in better emission standards and safety benefits. However, we're opposed to initiatives that penalise people for having an older car - unless the vehicle is poorly maintained and unfit for the road.
Recycling and disposal
We'd like the government to establish a programme that encourages more, and earlier, recycling and disposal of older "end of life" vehicles. Such a scheme would help improve the overall safety and emissions from New Zealand's vehicle fleet. For example, a small levy built into the initial purchase price of newly imported cars would cover the cost of eventual disposal, including towing and recycling. The levy would also reduce illegal dumping.
Government could also consider offering incentives for motorists to dispose of their end of life cars. Larger incentives could be offered for disposal of the least safe and least environmentally friendly vehicles.
Support for tighter import rules
We support importation rules that ensure motorists have access to the safest, most efficient and lowest emission vehicles at reasonable cost. We requested that the introduction of new import rules that restrict older vehicles be phased in over a reasonable length of time, so a supply of affordable used vehicles continues to be available for motorists to upgrade their cars.