More cars and a record year of travel shows Kiwis’ continued appetite for motor vehicles.

Data released today by the Ministry of Transport shows 48.2 billion kilometres were driven on New Zealand roads over 2017 – a record high.

The record is a six percent increase on 2016 and a 17 percent increase over a decade.

“As well as driving more, New Zealanders are buying more cars. The light vehicle fleet grew by more than four percent from 2016 to 2017. This compares to a two percent growth in the population,” Ministry of Transport DCE Regulatory and Data Kirstie Hewlett said.

“For every one thousand New Zealanders (including children) there are 792 light vehicles (cars, vans, SUVs and utility vehicles). This is a 23 percent increase over the past decade.

“It is also one of the highest rates of light vehicle ownership in the world.”

The Annual Vehicle Fleet Statistics were released by the Ministry today. 

Ms Hewlett said the Annual Vehicle Fleet Statistics provided a valuable source of data for transport planners and policy makers. 

“The Ministry uses data to inform its regulation, modelling and policy advice to Government. It gives us a real understanding of New Zealander’s vehicle fleet mix and the way we travel, and provides a solid evidence base for the entire transport sector to use.

“This data shows New Zealanders are increasing their reliance on private vehicles. This is not the direction we want to be moving in. More vehicles means more congestion and higher emissions.

“We are working toward a multi-modal transport system which means taking advantage of the benefits of each mode – whether its walking, cycling, or public transport. This data shows there is more work to be done to shift our reliance on private vehicles.

“More vehicles and higher travel have also been linked to the country’s road safety problem. Something we are tackling through the development of a new road safety strategy.”

Findings from the report include:

  • At the end of 2017, there were 4.15 million vehicles on New Zealand’s road, up 4.5% from 3.98 million in 2016.
  • There were 3.8 million light vehicles in the fleet (with a gross vehicle mass up to 3.5 tonnes). This represents 792 light vehicles per 1,000 people, one of the highest vehicle ownerships in the world.
  • Since late 2013 vehicle travel has grown strongly, by the end of 2017 the total vehicle kilometres travelled was 48.2 billion, compared to 45.5 billion the previous year.
  • The annual growth rate of vehicle kilometres travelled was 6% in 2017, the highest level since 2001 when this data was first measured accurately. The light vehicle travel per capita, 9,265 km/capita reached a new record high in 2017; while the light vehicle travel per vehicle has declined to 11,691 km/vehicle.
  • The number of vehicles leaving the light fleet in 2017 was low (171,000), whereas entries were a record high (334,000).
  • The average age of light vehicles has remained fairly constant at around 14 years old. Although the proportion of light vehicles aged 15 years or older has reduced slightly in recent years and was 38% in 2017.
  • The average engine capacity of light vehicles had grown until 2010; since then it has levelled off at about 2,290 cubic centimetres (cc). The average engine size of light diesel vehicles (2,730 cc in 2017) was significantly higher than that (2,190 cc) of petrol powered counterparts.
  • The average reported CO2 emissions (per kilometre travelled based on laboratory testing) from light vehicles entering the fleet have largely been constant since 2013, at around 180 g/km.
  • Distance travelled by freight measured in tonne-km also grew strongly in 2017, up 7.3% to 25.3 billion tkm from 23.6 billion tkm in 2016.

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