BUYING CARS: Clean & green & overseas
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There’s a shortage of good quality, late-model used cars in New Zealand right now. Which in turn means prices have climbed, especially as the Government’s Clean Car Programme has shifted so much focus onto electrified and plug-in vehicles. Everybody wants them, especially with rebates of $3450 for second hand Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and $2300 for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) being registered in NZ for the first time.
Many buyers are also thinking about the coming rebates that will be available for hybrids (and other low-emissions used vehicles) from April next year.
As a used-car buyer looking for the right clean and green car or SUV, you can’t do much about the pricing situation. But you can tilt the supply and demand issue a bit more in your favour by sourcing a car from overseas.
Covid-19 has attuned our minds to shopping online for everything, including used cars. Some big dealers like Andrew Simms and Turners have been offering online hold and purchasing tools for some time now.
But this idea also opens the door to shopping internationally. If you’re happy to browse online locally, why not do it in another country? Companies like Autoport are capitalising on the trend and buyers are proving remarkably comfortable with the concept.
It’s not like importing a car yourself, because a company like Autoport can facilitiate the whole process. Buyers register, the company deals with trade-ins or finance if needed and in 8-10 weeks the car can be driven away.
The disadvantage is that the car isn’t on the ground in NZ, so if you really want to go and look at it… well, you can’t. But the big advantage is that your shopping list is exponentially larger.
And when you do buy and the car arrives? Autoport’s case there’s a five-day money-back guarantee for vehicles up to $50,000 if the car doesn’t match the description. On non-performance models, there’s also a 12-month mechanical breakdown policy. All cars are delivered at an on-the-road price, registered and with a full tank of fuel.
It’s natural to think that this kind of business model is aimed at enthusiasts, looking for rare and/or exotic models that you simply can’t get in NZ. That’s certainly part of it.
But in these days of short supply in NZ, buyers are now also looking overseas for mainstream models that are almost impossible to secure in the local market, because they get snapped up straight away.
We asked Autoport for a sample of some of the more interesting electrified vehicles it had sourced in recent months. Not so long ago, you would never have described a Toyota RAV4 as “interesting”, but there’s feverish demand for the hybrid version, which is especially scarce in the used market because it was only launched here in 2019.
Shopping in Japan opens the door to vehicles like these, and if you want something a little different it’s also likely that you can find a special edition or limited-run model you would never see as a NZ-new model.
Other gems? There’s the Nissan e-Note, a fascinating supermini that has never been sold as a new car but is powered by a small-capacity petrol engine that acts only a range-extender, charging the battery which then drives the wheels. It’s similar technology to that used in the latest Honda Jazz e:HEV and will also power the forthcoming Nissan Qashqai.
If you want to go pure-electric there’s the evergreen Nissan Leaf, which is well proven. And yes, there are a number of special-edition models in Japan that might tempt – not to mention the long-range battery option in the latest version.
But you can also combine the exotic with electrification. Autoport recently imported a first-generation Porsche Panamera hybrid for a Kiwi customer.