The Road Ahead : June 2013
QUEENSLAND'S LARGEST CLUB 53 JUN/JUL 2013 THE ROAD AHEAD FEATURE | MOTORING FOR THE BUDGET-CONSCIOUS, this practice is understandable, given that the prices of goods purchased from overseas are often far cheaper than of those sold locally. Unfortunately though, not all imported products are created equal. Caravanning Queensland Chief Executive Officer Ron Chapman said the number of caravans, motor homes and camper trailers being imported from overseas was rising, opening a 'can of worms' within the caravan industry. The reason? Some don't comply with Australian Design Rules (ADR) or the alternative standards set out in Vehicle Standards Bulletin 1. According to Mr Chapman, when importers are applying for an import licence, they are giving the overseas distributors their interpretation of the ADRs, which in many cases isn't correct. The result is caravans that don't comply with Australian standards are being brought into Australia and sold to consumers. It is reported that the Department of Fair Trading is investigating a number of cases where this is occurring in south-east Queensland. "Our industry is not against imports," Mr Chapman said. "Our problem is if they aren't compliant. We just want a level playing field." The ADRs are national standards for vehicle safety administered by the Australian Government and require all road vehicles, whether newly manufactured in Australia or imported as new or second hand, to comply with the vehicle standards applicable at the time of manufacture. RACQ Technical Researcher Russell Manning said the relevant regulations applying to caravans were complicated and could be difficult to interpret. Unless the consumer has detailed knowledge of these rules, it can be difficult to identify whether or not a caravan avoid being a not-so-happy camper IT'S AN ISSUE PLAGUING THE RETAIL SECTOR -- PEOPLE CHOOSING TO BUY PRODUCTS FROM OVERSEAS RATHER THAN IN AUSTRALIA TO SAVE MONEY. STORY DEB ECCLESTON complies. In a perfect world, the presence of ADR certification would mean the caravan is compliant, but that isn't always the case. "People are buying these things without knowing this stuff and they are getting a caravan that should not be on the road in Australia, and we don't understand how the systems that are in place are allowing this to happen," Mr Manning said. "Buyers may only find out about it when it's too late -- when they try to re-sell or re-register it and can't." Worse still, if the caravan is found to not comply with the rules, insurance companies may not insure it or, if it is insured, refuse to pay a claim. Mr Manning and Mr Chapman both agreed that it was a clear case of 'buyer beware' and advised that people looking to buy an imported caravan be aware of the following: • WIDTH: In America, caravans are permitted to be 2.5m wide plus the awning. In Australia, the maximum width is 2.5m, including the awning. • DOORS: Caravans imported from America and Europe can have doors on the right-hand side. In Australia, the doors are only permitted at the rear or on the left. • GAS: Imported caravans do not have the ventilation or fire-proofing required by the ADRs, and must be modified accordingly. • LIGHTS: Imported caravans may not have side marker lights. The mandatory front and rear lighting may also be incorrectly positioned. "The loopholes that importers have exploited in the past are starting to close up," Mr Manning said. "It's an emerging issue the authorities are becoming aware of, but they need to act promptly and decisively to address the problem and protect unsuspecting consumers."