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Proposed changes to the Motor Vehicle Standards Act promise to bring low-volume hypercars to our roads, crack down on car resellers over missed recalls and punish dodgy dealers for misleading consumers.

The planned tweaks, published today in an ‘exposure draft’ ahead of debate in Federal Parliament next year, are the biggest in 30 years.

For performance car fans, the biggest news is changes to import rules which, if passed, would allow cars like LaFerrari and the McLaren P1 into the country – provided less than 100 examples of the specific variant, fewer than 1000 examples of the model or under 3000 cars from the wider brand are produced annually.

Whether individual states will allow modern left-hand-drive cars to be registered remains to be seen, however. Although some LHD vehicles will need to be converted for sale in Australia, those meeting the above criteria will not.

The legislation includes a sliding scale for performance, starting at 110kW/tonne for cars built in 1990 and increasing by 1kW/T each year, to prevent importers from misusing the new rules to import ‘regular’ cars.

It isn’t just quirky high-performance specials that could be popping up on our roads. Vehicles with “environmental performance significantly superior to mainstream vehicles in Australia”, if they’ve been designed exclusively as a pure electric-vehicle or hybrid, will also be considered for import.

Vehicles designed to make life easier for disabled travellers, commonly known as mobility vehicles, factory-fitted with specialist features, or those modified by the manufacturer for mobility purposes, will also get a green light under the new rules.

On the safety front, manufacturers shirking their recall responsibilities are in the spotlight. Recalls are carried out voluntarily by manufacturers at the moment, but the changes will give the government “strong powers to mandate the recall of vehicles if serious safety issues arise.”

Those who sell cars without first completing mandatory recall work can be fined between $220,500 and $1,102,500 under the proposed system.

The issue of recalls has been brought into sharp focus of late, thanks largely to the global Takata saga. A total of 100 million vehicles, more than 2 million of which were sold in Australia, have been recalled due to faulty airbag inflators.

Toyota is facing a class-action lawsuit locally, with legal proceedings against Honda, Mazda, BMW, Subaru, Audi and Volkswagen likely to follow.

Resellers who provide “false or misleading information” are also in the firing line, facing fines up to $12,500.

If successful, the Government says these changes will help save $68 million in compliance costs every year. The legislation is also designed to “provide a modern, strong regulatory platform for vehicle standards that will better protect the community, provide more choice for specialist and enthusiast vehicles and be responsive to emerging technologies”.

The changes will be put to Federal Parliament in February next year. Interested parties can provide feedback on the proposal in the meantime.

 




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