The Australian government’s approval of parallel imports from 2018 will allow New Zealand dealers to export new and near-new cars across the Tasman, says an industry executive.
“Yes, that could happen,” he said. “The Tasman is an expensive stretch of water to ship stuff and new cars in New Zealand are on the whole dearer than Australia, but there will no doubt be opportunities.”
The man, who did not want to be named, said the Australian decision will have an immediate impact on some car brands but the effect will quickly lose momentum.
“It will certainly stop the price gouging by the premium brands,” he said. “A car that sells for $100,000 in Australia might be available in Britain or Japan for closer to $70,000.
“Aussie buyers will be doing what Kiwis have done – go offshore for a cheaper price. The car mightn’t always have the same equipment levels, but the right price is a strong incentive.”
The new parallel import laws across the ditch won’t allow years-old used cars like New Zealand. Instead the privately imported motorbike or passenger car into Australia must be no more than 12 months old and have no more than 500km on the clock.
Federal Minister Paul Fletcher’s press release said: “The law will be changed so that, from 2018, a consumer will be able to personally import a new car or motorcycle from another country with comparable standards to Australia’s, up to once every two years, if specified conditions are met.
“The Australian Government will specify the countries considered to have comparable standards. Of the world’s right-hand drive countries, Japan and the United Kingdom currently meet the standard. Other countries may be included upon reaching a comparable standard.”
The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, which had lobbied against parallel imports for the past two years, is to fight the planned law.
Its CEO Tony Weber told Australia news agencies that “the government hasn’t listened. They don’t comprehend that, even if they look the same, vehicles sold in the UK and Japan are quite different than those sold here in terms of equipment and specification.
“We would hope that these vehicles are clearly identified as private imports, otherwise it has the potential to devalue every new car – at a large cost to the wider economy.
“Paul Fletcher is a new minister. We will be talking to him and the government to make sure they understand the implications of the changes in their entirety,” Weber said.