Radical reforms proposed for the Motor Vehicle Standards Act may lead to cheaper cars for the masses. Changes are needed in key areas but let’s hope the legislators get the balance right, because the implications will be immense.
Varying the import standards could reverse Australia’s 90-year low in the road toll and clog courts with cases trying to discover the true identity of a stolen car, or with litigation over “lemons”.
Some changes would benefit enthusiasts while also addressing concerns over vehicle prices, particularly at the top end of the scale.
The prices of mass-market vehicles are already at 20year lows and affordability is at a 38-year high.
Summarising many of the 200 submissions made online, here is my unofficial take on the legislative review.
Removing restrictions on new and used imports will not lead to cheaper vehicles.
Privately imported cars under recalls could become a safety risk if they can’t be readily identified and fixed. Tracing owners will create a new layer of bureaucracy.
Allowing private imports of new vehicles potentially could “contaminate” the local market with vehicles that appear the same but lack features or safety equipment, slashing resale values.
There should be clarity in advertising the cost of options such as metallic paint and auto transmissions, which add, say, $550 and $2500 respectively.
A second-hand import with a tampered speedo, proved to be stolen or built from parts from a written-off car, should be scrapped or returned to its country of origin at the importer’s expense (as in New Zealand).
Classic vehicles (1960s and older) excepted, specialist used imports should be restricted to cars three to five years old.