Stranded motorists who call for help will have more choice with a new entrant to the tough roadside assistance market.
VTNZ (Vehicle Testing New Zealand) has launched a new roadside assistance service that will compete with the traditional powerhouse, the Automobile Association (AA), and smaller players such as State Insurance, which offers a service for its customers.
The announcement by VTNZ came as thousands of New Zealanders travelled home after the long weekend knowing that help was just a phone call away if they broke down.
"We know Kiwis don't want to be stranded on the side of the road when things go wrong, as research tells us six out of 10 households have some sort of roadside assistance," said VTNZ chief executive Mike Walsh.
VTNZ would look to take advantage of the large clientele coming through its testing stations, and targeting in particular those with no existing roadside assistance coverage.
The AA, which has more than 1.3 million members, is undaunted by the new competitor, saying other operators have come and gone in years gone by.
"I don't think we would be so arrogant as to ignore them - we will certainly be taking a keen interest in what they are doing. But it's not something we are overly concerned about at this stage," said AA membership manager Dougal Swift.
"If you look back to ... when State launched [its service], we continued to grow. So new entrants haven't hurt us in the past," he said.
While VTNZ was offering some cheaper fee options, Mr Swift said it would need to compete on price "because we have got the existing service reputation".
HOW THE SERVICES COMPARE
Six free road-service callouts a year, or unlimited free callouts for members of 10 consecutive years or more. Standard membership is $89 in Auckland, or $79 elsewhere, in the first year, with fees reducing each year. Additional callouts cost $60 each. Covers the whole country.
Fees range from $20 for six months with one callout (purchased with a VTNZ Warrant of Fitness) to $49 a year with three callouts, to $79 a year with three callouts and additional benefits when more than 100km away from home. Additional callouts $75 each. More than 1200 recovery vehicles across country.
Fees are $30 a year for clients with Comprehensive Car Cover, providing two free callouts. Additional callouts cost $50 each. More than 1000 Roadside Rescue vehicles go "wherever you are".
Two free callouts with a full vehicle insurance policy. Additional call-outs $50. Will go "almost anywhere in NZ".