Legislation and the motor industry
I read this gem on Wikipedia the other day: “Government legislation has always had a major impact on the New Zealand [motor] industry.”
It was government protectionism that led to the growth of a strong New Zealand vehicle and parts manufacturing industry in the 1920s, and emphatically in 1938 with the “Import Control Regulations 1938”, which favoured locally-built cars (and British cars) over all others.
However all this changed in the 1980s, when the Government once more stepped in, and started to phase out import duties. And as the tariffs disappeared, so did local assembly.
The manufacturing motor companies became importers and sales teams, and many of them stayed on at their old plants, leasing out the unused space – Ford and Nissan in Wiri, South Auckland were prime examples – while others jumped ship and moved out of town completely, Toyota being the best example of this. Yet Toyota kept its factory in Thames, and today it’s one of the town’s biggest employers, as Toyota’s refurbishment centre for its Signature Class used vehicles.
But this week, as I write, saw another chapter close, when Ford emptied the parts warehouse at its Wiri site, and moved parts distribution to a purpose-built site in Highbrook Business Park, close to its head office, and just off the SH1 between Auckland and Manukau. See story page 37.
A moving occasion, but not necessarily a triumph for “Government legislation”.
On the other side of the coin, I note that the Government – or more to the point, the New Zealand Transport Agency, which is part of the Government’s public service – is having a look at the Low Volume Vehicle Technical Association (LVVTA), and how it operates.
Although there are criticisms of the LVVTA from time to time – often by vehicle modifiers who want to take shortcuts – the organisation provides a great service, and ensures that modified vehicles are built to high safety standards, as well as providing other services – see story page 26.
It would be a pity if the NZTA review led to the demise of the LVVTA, for there’s nothing to replace it.
All the best,