Vehicle standards map

Modern vehicles have many advanced features to make them safer and more efficient. And designers and regulators around the world continue to improve the performance of new models. What new and improved features should New Zealand consumers be looking out for?

The Vehicle Standards Map is a document that describes the vehicle technologies and performance standards that government transport officials believe have the greatest potential to improve the safety and resource efficiency of vehicles in New Zealand. 

The Vehicle Standards Inventory is a large table that lists all the significant vehicle technologies and performance standards relating to safety and resource efficiency that government transport officials are aware of.

Questions and Answers

What is the Vehicle Standards Inventory?

The Vehicle Standards Inventory is a large table listing all the significant vehicle technologies and performance standards relating to safety and resource efficiency that transport officials are aware of. The Vehicle Standards Map was developed by selecting the most promising features from this list.

What is the Vehicle Standards Map for?

The Vehicle Standards Map brings together the vehicle features that currently have the most potential to benefit road users in New Zealand. Transport officials will use the Map to help decide which vehicle features should be promoted or mandated. The Map will also keep stakeholders such as road users and the vehicle industry up to date with vehicle policy developments.

What are vehicle standards?

The Vehicle Standards Map includes both distinct technologies, which can be given a standard definition, and performance standards for more general functions.

For example, electronic stability control is a specific technology that uses sensors, information processing and automatic vehicle control mechanisms to make it less likely that a driver will lose control of a vehicle.

A more general performance standard may not specify a technology, but stipulates the minimum performance required under certain conditions. For example, the proposed pole side impact standard requires that vehicles are crash tested against a pole and must provide a specified level of protection to a standard crash test dummy.

Will the vehicle features listed in the Vehicle Standards Map become mandatory?

Inclusion of a vehicle feature in the Vehicle Standards Map does not indicate that a feature will become mandatory for vehicles entering the New Zealand fleet. These are the features that we think will do the most to improve safety or resource efficiency. But a decision to mandate a feature could only be made after a thorough analysis of the relevant research, the market and of overseas legislation, so that the costs and benefits of mandating could be estimated. However, it is likely that the full benefit of some of these technologies or standards will only be realised if they are made mandatory.

How might a vehicle feature be promoted?

Even if we do not think a vehicle feature should be mandated, the government may wish to encourage people to have it. We could do this, for example, by advertising the benefits of the feature, requiring that the feature be reported in vehicle advertising or providing some incentive for adopting the feature.

How would a vehicle feature be mandated?

Mandating a vehicle feature would involve changing a land transport rule. Changes to rules must follow a specific process that includes public consultation and agreement by Cabinet. Substantial changes also require a regulatory impact statement (RIS) that explores all relevant alternative actions and justifies the preferred change.

What are the current requirements for vehicles?

The current requirements for vehicles that will be used on the road in New Zealand are contained in the land transport rules. These rules can be viewed at the NZ Transport Agency’s website

Do we mandate the same vehicle features as other countries?

Almost all New Zealand vehicles are imported from overseas, so we are strongly influenced by the legal requirements in other jurisdictions. However, these requirements can vary, and standards from some suppliers may be lower than from others.

New Zealand is a contracting party to the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, which is a project of the United Nations. As a member of this forum, New Zealand is committed to improving both the quality and consistency of vehicle standards internationally. If improved vehicle standards are adopted as legal requirements in other countries, they will be considered for New Zealand. However, distinctive features of the New Zealand market, our vehicle use or our road environment sometimes mean that we adopt our own unique requirements.

What features should I look for in my new car?

Check out the RightCar website for more information about the safety features and fuel economy of cars you may be considering. The RightCar website has crash ratings for most models and also lists the safety equipment fitted. However, equipment levels can change and you should also check with the vehicle retailer. 

What about cooperative intelligent transport systems (C-ITS)?

Many of the most promising new developments in vehicle technology involve sensors and information processing, and are included in a category known as intelligent transport systems (ITS). Some proposed ITS technologies enable information to be transmitted between vehicles, or between vehicles and transport infrastructure. For example, vehicles could know when other vehicles are approaching, even when they are out of sight of the driver, and so avoid collisions. These technologies are known as cooperative ITS, or C­ITS.

Although C­ITS has the potential to improve the safety and efficiency of vehicles, it has so far not produced discrete technologies or standards that could be identified for inclusion in the Vehicle Standards Map. We expect new C­ITS technologies to appear in the near future, and some of the technologies listed in the Map could, in practice, be implemented using C­ITS.

More information about ITS can be found in the government’s Intelligent Transport Systems Technology Action Plan 2014-18

Can I contribute to the Vehicle Standards Map and Inventory?

Yes. The Ministry of Transport welcomes information and expert advice from stakeholders and will take it into account in future updates of the Vehicle Standards Map and Vehicles Standards Inventory.

You can comment on the Vehicle Standards Map and Vehicles Standards Inventory by emailing the Ministry of Transport at info@transport.govt.nz