Dec 16, 2018

Changes To Vehicle Import Laws To Impact Motorcycle Industry

Changes to the vehicle import laws from 2018 will also have an impact on the motorcycle industry.

The industry has now had some time to assess the consequences of the shock announcement made a couple of weeks ago.

Initial reaction to the changes has been harsh, with many organisations including the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries slamming the decision as potentially dangerous for individuals and damaging for the industry.

Under the new laws, an individual will be able to import one vehicle every 24 months from right-hand-drive countries with “comparable vehicle standards to Australia”.

The vehicle must have less than 500km on the odometer and be less than 12 months old.

Any imported vehicle is to be inspected by an independent third-party, and recorded on an online Register of Approved Vehicles.

For cars that will allow the import of vehicles from Japan and the United Kingdom only, but it may open the door to many more countries for motorcycles.

There has been plenty of discussion since the changes were announced, and the major concerns are centred around safety and service.

Because the Australian motorcycle market is fairly small on a global scale, many of the new models sold through dealerships here are identical or at least very close to overseas models.

The government has relaxed laws in recent years to remove certain requirements specific to the Australian market to bring the models sold in Australia even more in line with overseas models.

That has included removing the restriction on rear mudguards that required manufacturers to fit extensions to the mudguard to meet Australian laws.

All this means the safety concerns may not be an issue as long as the regulations are enforced.

But buyers must remember that a lot can happen to a motorcycle in 500km, and checking its history is essential.

While the changes will allow individuals to import models not currently brought into the country by the major importers, private importers are likely to have issues with service and support.

Australian motorcycle importers and their dealership networks are rightfully protective of their businesses, and bikes not sold through their network may not receive the same level of service.

Warranty claims, vehicle recalls and parts availability are just some of the potential issues.

And there is the question of whether all the effort required to import a bike is worth it.