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New Zealanders are close to world leaders in car ownership with more than 740 cars per 1000 people (as at end 2014). Motor vehicles are a significant contributor to air pollution in most urban areas across the country. Although domestic fire emissions dominate wintertime air pollution, vehicle emissions are relatively constant throughout the year.

The composition of our vehicle fleet has a significant influence on emissions because different types of vehicles emit very different amounts of pollution.

The New Zealand vehicle fleet has many unique features when compared to vehicle fleets in other countries.

  • Our light fleet average age is high and continues to get older (14.1 years in 2014 versus 9.8 years in Australia).
  • We have two relatively equal points of entry into the fleet, with 46% of our light vehicles entering as used imports versus 54% entering as new.
  • The proportion of diesel vehicles in the light fleet has grown from 12% in 2000 to 17% in 2014. Whilst electric and hybrid vehicles are increasing at a faster rate, they are currently a very small proportion of the light fleet (only 0.35% at the end of 2014).
  • Our vehicles drive long distances before we get rid of them. The average odometer of light vehicles being scrapped has risen to 215,000km in 2014 up from 174,000km in 2001.

The Ministry of Transport (MoT) reports annual and quarterly vehicle fleet statistics and trends (external link) going back to 2000 using data from the Motor Vehicle Register (which is in turn managed by the Transport Agency).

MoT also reports on a comprehensive set of transport indicators (external link) , which includes further information on the vehicle fleet. The indicators provide national, and where possible regional, data for robust and consistent performance monitoring of the New Zealand transport sector.

For further information contact environment@nzta.govt.nz.

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