Electric vehicles will be mainstream in the next 50 years, they will be autonomous and hands free driving will be common place. Vehicles will be connected to the internet.

But people will still value flexibility and freedom and the ability to make a choice about when, where, with whom and how they travel.

Personal modes of transport, like the automobile of today, will still be desirable.

This is how Turners Auctions chief executive Greg Hedgepeth describes the future of vehicle travel as his company celebrated it 50th birthday in 2017.

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To mark the occasion he visited the Whangarei branch of the nationwide auction business and met local staff, including branch manager Rees Daley, on November 30.

Mr Hedgepeth said just like now, people will still be wanting to buy high quality used cars, whether they are electric or powered by hydrogen, autonomous or hands on.

"During the past 50 years, Turners has successfully evolved with the times and it will continue to do so as the market continues to change," he said.

Mr Hedgepeth said after successfully selling second hand trucks at Turners & Growers fruit and vege auctions, 50 years ago the company held its first vehicle-only auction, marking the beginning of a unique New Zealand success story – Turners Auctions.

"Since then, Turners has grown, taken on the internet and become part of a larger integrated business, able to offer more to its customers and selling hundreds of cars, boats, trailers, trucks and general goods every day," he said.

Mr Daly said the Whangarei branch opened in 1991 and provides the 'whole nine yards' to its customers – buy, sell, finance and insurance.

As times have changed, so has Turners, with the internet having a major impact on how and when cars are sold.

In November 2010, a collection of 29 iconic American cars were sold on behalf of one vendor as part of an American Classic Car auction. Not only was the auction streamed live (allowing the vendor to watch online from Wales), $25,000 was also donated from the sale proceeds to the local hospice," he said.

And it's not just cars that have gone under the hammer at Turners Whangarei. In 1992, Christmas came early for dozens of local children when Turners auctioned off almost half the stock from the local Toy Warehouse after it was forced to close, with both of Turners auction rooms "packed to the gunnels".

The recent pace of growth means Whangarei has outgrown its current site in Dyer St and plans are under way to relocate to a larger and more profile site in 2019, Mr Daly said.


Vehicle evolution
The used vehicle market has gone through its own evolution in the past 50 years.

• Cars typically get completely redesigned every five to seven years – so the car of 1967 looks nothing like the car of 2017

• People are viewing and purchasing cars online, and location is now longer a factor with cars being delivered across the country

• Financing and insurance have become a common part of the customer purchase process with around 80 per cent of used vehicles bought with some form of finance

• The rise in importation of good quality used vehicles, particularly from Japan, has seen cars become more affordable and accessible

• Kiwis' love affair with cars continues and ownership rates are 657 cars owned by 1000 people, higher than both Australia and the UK.