By now, we hope many of you are returning to business as “normal”. That will be the same for many, and a “new normal” for some…

We are getting customer feedback that some of you have had/are having record sales, post COVID lockdown, and others aren’t doing so great. I guess this is a reflection of many things – location, business model, business style – but there are sales to be had out there.

Import volumes are starting to increase once more as some importers are realising stock shortages, due to unexpected higher-than-expected sales volumes. We understand that at present, buying in Japan is tough from feedback. This is likely due to a number of things – the requirement for ESC for all vehicles is probably the main reason as these vehicles tend to be later model, higher priced and now have more competition to own them.


ESC – We are still seeing vehicles arriving without ESC that were NZTA border checked after March 1st – THESE WILL NOT COMPLY unless they are over 20 years old.

Some fallacies out there:

  • Heavy vehicles like trucks and buses (“Heavy” means a gross weight of over 3500 kgs) that are over 20 years old comply – NO THEY DO NOT. Heavy vehicles are subject to different rules/requirements.
  • Traction control is the same as ESC – NO, IT IS NOT AND WITHOUT ESC, THE VEHICLE DOES NOT COMPLY.
  • I can get an exemption from NZTA if I mistakenly import a vehicle without ESC – NO EXEMPTIONS HAVE BEEN ISSUED TO DATE, so chances are you will not get one.


We are being asked to ship back cars from time to time as a result of non-compliance. Its an expensive mistake, so we urge you to ensure you know what you are buying and that your Agent knows what they are doing. If you have any concerns, ask before you ship!


COVID Storage Costs – Firstly, I would like to thank those of you who have paid your invoices. When lockdown was imposed by Government, Autohub had a matter of 48 hours to organise storage of arriving vehicles in a manner that complied with Government imposed lockdown requirements, and while we managed to get significant daily storage rate reductions, the total cost to Autohub was over $500,000 for the lockdown period. You may not be aware, but we also had to take out special insurance cover for your vehicles during this time, provide site details and security measures in place at each site in order to get cover, so a lot went into this….

We know many of you have taken the stance that this was not your fault. Its really nobody’s “fault” but using this analogy; “if this was your family or children stuck overseas during COVID lockdown measures, would you be prepared to cover their accommodation costs for the period they could not move?”….

For those of you that still have outstanding storage costs with us, we would greatly appreciate these being paid as soon as possible.


BMSB (Stink Bug) season – Yes, Heat Treatment (HT) requirements will be returning shortly. All vehicles loaded from Japan starting September 1st will require this as we move into the next BMSB season. This will mean HT will start @ mid-August. Additional costs will be $225 per vehicle, so if you want to avoid these costs on more vehicles, get buying now!


Vehicles arriving partially disassembled – We are noting that, from time to time, vehicles are arriving “partially disassembled”. This may include glove boxes removed (checking pollen filter elements in fan/AC units for seeds, insects), lower windscreen cowls removed, side skirts partially popped off, radiator mounts removed (for inspection of radiator cores for bugs/contamination). To the best of our knowledge, this is occurring both in Japan and upon arrival in NZ for heightened Biosecurity cleaning and screening.


While we realise this can be annoying, and occasionally require new clips and some remedial work, we ask you to realise that as MPI are conducting “onshore verification” now as they are not currently based in Japan, there has been an increased requirement for more invasive inspections prior to shipping so the vehicles don’t incur secondary MPI processing when they arrive in NZ.

We are working with all parties concerned to reinforce that care needs to be taken when invasively inspecting and cleaning vehicles to reduce that chances of damage. 

That’s about all for now. We hope your businesses return strong and more resilient, and Autohub thanks you for your continuing support.


Frank Willett