5 ideas to try while you’re stuck in traffic

Forget the road rage, we’ve got a few better options to help pass the time while stuck in traffic

After a month in lock down I almost forgot what it was like to be stuck in the infamous Auckland traffic. We replaced automotive traffic with foot traffic. Our biggest concerns became avoiding all other bubbles, it seemed there were more people walking on the roads than vehicles. As we move down alert levels unfortunately we’re going to be spending more time sitting behind the wheel again. In fact, the average commuter spends around 54 hours a year stuck in traffic! So, here’s a few ideas to help time fly faster when you’re feeling trapped:

  1. Call your friends, family or relatives – The world and situation we are in gets crazier everyday. Check up on your parents and your mates. Who knows this could become part of your daily routine. Make sure its hands free though. (Hint: “Hey Siri, call Mum”

  1. Listen to an audio-book or podcast – Want to be a CEO? Well the average CEO reads 5 books a month!  Who has that time? You do! Download an audio-book, chuck it on while your stuck in traffic, that way you have no excuse to stop learning.

3. Sing a tune – A classic but, we are all guilty of this. Singing releases endorphins which reduces stress, so it’s a win-win. What better way to start the day?

  1. Lay off the road rage – Yes it is true that you indicate for everyone but nobody indicates for you. However, let’s keep up the team mentality from COVID and remember that everyone is human. (But please indicate, it is annoying when you don’t) 

  1. Try some deep breathing exercises – Recent studies have shown that deep breathing is one of our easiest, most convenient and natural tools to combat issues like stress and anxiety, reduce pain, high blood pressure and even aid in digestion.

Stay safe on the roads team, and maybe try something new next time you’re stuck in traffic. It might just spice up your morning!

The ‘new’ My Auto Shop

NZ’s best mechanics at your fingertips: A new, nationwide My Auto Shop, driven by customer feedback. 

After pressing pause on the business for the last 6 weeks, the team has been heads down building the new version of My Auto Shop. We’re excited to come out of lockdown with a refreshed model of business that now covers all of NZ!

Since launching in January we have learnt a lot about the automotive industry. We completed hundreds of pickup and drop offs, managed many repairs on all kinds of vehicles and spoke with all of our customers to see what they valued most. When COVID-19 hit, it gave us the opportunity to step back and have a good look at the business and check we were working on the right things. 

Something that was overwhelmingly important to our customers was transparency  around the people who are working on their car, including prices and capabilities. And we think that’s going to be even more important in a post-covid world where money is a little tighter. Therefore, instead of being the ‘UberEats for car repairs’, we have shifted to be more like AirBnB. You can now see tailored prices for your vehicle from the best local garages side by side on a map. You can filter by proximity, speciality and rating to find the best one for you, then book online in a couple of minutes. NZ’s best mechanics at your fingertips. Because safety remains critically important to us, all of our garages remain MTA approved workshops.

We’ve also spent time talking with workshops all over the country to now have nationwide coverage. From Morrinsville & Napier, all the way down to Winton & Invercargill you can now use My Auto Shop for your car repairs. We have worked closely with the MTA through this time to ensure we have the best workshops for your car. There are now over 60 workshops signed up & vetted on the platform, and we are working to strengthen coverage in some of the gaps. You can see all the information about the garage on a profile page on the website, including rating, years operating, number of employees and garage specialities.

Our service offering has also expanded, to now include a couple of different levels of car service, WoFs, pre-purchase inspections, wheel alignments and diagnostics, with tyres, windscreen repairs and more technical jobs en route. Keep your eyes peeled as these are added in the coming weeks to cover all your car needs.

We are excited to tackle the rest of this year and deepen our fun, friendly, customer orientated way of working in an industry which has historically been lacking. Please come and check it out, even just for a look!

Car Subscriptions have become a hot topic. Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Until recently I hadn’t considered the true cost of owning, maintaining, insuring and fuelling my car, and whether or not it represented good value for the amount of use I got from it. Then I heard about monthly vehicle subscriptions. So, what are they and will they save me any money? And in a COVID world, where people are nervous about buying large, new assets like cars, are they the solution?

The traditional narrative on car ownership has changed massively over the last decade. For a long time now owning a car in cities like London, Singapore or New York simply didn’t make sense given the reliability and affordability of public transport. With the rise of ride-sharing services (think Uber) this is now true of many other places, and large numbers of city dwellers are forgoing a vehicle entirely.

But are these trends the same in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch?

Probably not, but monthly vehicle subscriptions may still have a place in NZ and quite a few reputable companies think so too. Recently, Turners announced they had purchased a stake in the Aussie company Carly and plan to launch in NZ later this year; Mercury Energy partnered with Snap Rentals in 2018 to launch Drive, a subscription model exclusively for electric vehicles;Finance company Simplify now offer subs on vehicles ranging from three to twelve months and Cityhop provide even more flexibility, allowing subs for as little as four weeks at a time.

And it’s not just second-hand cars either. In the US, vehicle manufacturers like Porsche, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Nissan and Volvo are all offering their own version of monthly subscriptions. It’s coming people!

So how do monthly vehicle subscriptions typically work?    

In most cases you pick a car, sign up for a given period (say 3 or 6 months), and get full access to it as if you owned it outright. Payment is taken weekly after the first month and includes insurance, registration, roadside assistance and routine maintenance. In some cases, you can switch the car you’ve chosen, either throughout the sub or at the end of each term.

Do the financials stack up?

Obviously this depends on your usage, however it’s clear that you definitely pay a premium for the convenience.

Every year the AA breakdown the cost of owning a car for each of the main car categories (small/ compact/ medium, petrol/ diesel/ hybrid etc). This analysis allows for current fuel and oil prices, the latest prices for maintenance and tyres, but most importantly calculates the cost of depreciation (the devil when it comes to car ownership). It helps provide a comprehensive comparison against the cost of a monthly vehicle subscription.

We’ve focussed on the medium-sized, petrol car category, however, the results are reflective of each category. Over a 12-month period, taking a loan to buy a car worked out between 17% and 39% cheaper than an equivalent monthly subscription. This factored in finance, WOF, insurance, repairs and maintenance, the lot. Check out the table below to see the specifics. And once the car is fully paid off, you own it. It’s an asset, with some retained value that you can sell.   

How is this different from leasing a car?

The main difference here is the term. Most leases are set up over a longer period of time, often around 3 years. They are also more common on new cars, where vehicles have higher initial values, and where a longer-term is required to depreciate over.

Is a vehicle subscription accessible to everyone?

Yes, as long as you are over 21 years old and have a full driver’s licence. Depending on the service, you’ll likely need to prove you are good for the money as well, which might mean bank statements, utility bills and/or credit scores.

Are there catches?

Unfortunately so. Some providers charge an upfront non-refundable subscription fee. Then there is a long list of fees and charges typical for finance companies including things like cancellation fees, transaction fees, mortgage fees, late fees, cleaning fees etc. Note, these are different for each provider.

If you’re a big driver you’ll want to know about the maximum km per month, which apply to some providers. Insurance excesses look pretty steep at around $1,000, and you’ll need a little money to get started, around 50% of the first month’s sub, with the difference being charged 15 days later.

In our opinion, this is one of those times it’s worth reading the terms and conditions thoroughly.

The reality is that this isn’t going to appeal to everyone. If you have the money or don’t mind taking a loan to buy a car, you’ll end up saving over the medium term by buying a car. The range of vehicles on offer is also pretty limited, and it is unlikely you’ll be able to find your dream car on subscription. Kiwi’s take pride in owning their first (and subsequent) cars and that makes it somewhat of an irrational purchase for many. We have one of the highest car ownership per capita in the world (0.8 per capita in 2018), and for a lot of people, their car is their biggest asset. These cultural changes will take time to imbed.

This doesn’t preclude the idea from taking off in the future. New providers appear to be popping up all over the place, and shortly there will be enough of them to create a competitive market that should drive down pricing and make the maths stack up for customers.

With car manufacturers trialling the model in the US it’s probable the appeal of new cars on monthly subscription could gather further interest in the idea. Especially if it’s a new Porsche.

Until then, I’ll keep saving up to buy my next car.

What you need to know to keep your vehicle compliant during Alert Level 3.

After an extended period at level 4 lockdown, NZ vehicles will be starting to get some more attention next week as over 400,000 kiwis head back to work. Many of these cars might need some love or documentation updated. Fortunately, the government has moved to ensure there isn’t chaos for mechanics and testing stations on the first day back on our roads. Here’s what you need to know

• WoFs, CoFs and driver licences (including endorsements) that expired on or after 1 January 2020 have been temporarily extended. The indicated date for these is October 1, however a concrete date is yet to be announced.

• Safety is still paramount. If you’re concerned about your vehicle, please get in touch with us, or your local mechanic, to have it checked. Just because your WoF might be extended, doesn’t mean your car’s safety is extended too!

• Mechanics are a savvy bunch and have worked to develop ways of completing contactless services and WoFs, so you can trust that you’re in safe hands.

• Dealerships are working under similar principles to ensure if you’re in the market for a new car, or you have regular servicing scheduled for your new ride, you can purchase in a contactless way.

We have also implemented contactless pick up and drop off for customer cars, so if you need to stay home to work, we’ve got you covered.

You can see more detail on the NZTA FAQs website

Meet Our Founder: Andy Bowie

Andy is a bundle of energy, often seen bouncing from task to task and struggling to sit still. He is the guy building the business, brand and relationships whilst trying not to get distracted by the surf, snow or wind report!

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi, I’m Andy. I was raised in Auckland, before heading off to chase winters all over the world, throwing myself off jumps and down half-pipes. Whilst I’m now back in the city (and able to get a tan again), the enthusiasm for trying something new, and a little crazy, hasn’t disappeared. I’m an ‘off the chart’ extrovert who loves meeting and working with new people. Please say hi!

Why did you start My Auto Shop?

After spending close to 5 years building some pretty cool global companies, I felt it was time to try it myself. I was looking at a bunch of different industries and quickly realised that vehicle maintenance was stuck in the past. It felt like the right time to bring it into the future. You can read more about that journey here.

What were you doing before this?

After chasing winters around the world competing and running my own coaching businesses, I moved back to Auckland. There I spent time in couple of sales roles with Frontside Media and Facebook, before becoming one of the team to start Uber in NZ. I held roles in marketing and operations in both NZ and Singapore at Uber, then finally as Country Manager for Uber Eats New Zealand until October 2019.

What does your weekend normally look like?

Other than trying to grow My Auto Shop further, I’ll be found out on my little yacht sailing, under a rally car that I built with my Dad, or trying to hunt some waves or powder, depending on the season.

Tell us something fascinating about yourself?

I once crossed the US/Mexico border 3 times in 1 hour whilst on a surf trip in what turned out to be a stolen car (that we found out after we bought it!)

The scary reason we’re never driving through the Waikato again

Not long ago, I was sitting on a small regional plane beside a person who was scared of flying. I found myself spouting the classic, pretty painful cliche line that any semi-analytical dad might be caught saying before taking off: “What’s there to worry about? Statistically, you’re more likely to be in a car crash than a plane crash, and you never worry about jumping in the car right?” Well, I had a bit of a reality check on that the other week.

Now, I’m certainly not the over-cautious type; frequently found sitting on a small, marginally ocean-worthy vessel in the middle of the Hauraki or in a home-built racecar rocketing past fence posts, however, we need to take a step back and ask if we are truly safe on our roads.

The MTA recently released its annual report on the vehicle servicing industry (something relatively top of mind for me) and the warrant of fitness failure rates stand out like a sore thumb. Across the country, these are now at 41%! That’s getting close to half of our cars (1,886,104 in fact) that when checked whether they should be on the road, shouldn’t be!! Now, while I might understand the condition of my own car and be happy getting into it, I’m certainly not happy knowing that the driver of every second car coming at me at 100kph might not be able to stop, steer or see properly!

So I decided to dig a little deeper and it only gets worse. Our WoF failure rates have been skyrocketing over the last few years, growing 17% since 2013. The most recent step change has come due to 2 main reasons that I can see:

  1. A shift to a longer required cadence of WoFs, meaning vehicles are checked less regularly, and
  2. A crackdown on sketchy WoF providers, meaning that less blind eyes are being turned to ‘mates’ who might drop off a few beers to pass your car.
NZ WoF Failure rates 2013 – 2019

Now whilst the latter is a good thing, the former carries huge repercussions. In a society that is getting less practical and vehicles are becoming more complex, people really have no idea what is going on in their car. But in this age of convenience, people expect their car to work and don’t take any further steps to take care of it. With the WoF cadence pushed out, it means cars are left to wear and tear longer, without any extra care or checks.

If you take a look at why vehicles are failing, it’s the big things, that don’t just affect you but are likely to cause a crash with others involved. In typical 80/20 fashion, the top 4 categories make up 70% of fails:

Causes of WoF failure rates in 2019

These drivers can’t see, stop or turn properly! And it turns out it’s not helping our road fatality rates either. A beautiful trend of reductions in road-related fatalities seemed to stop in 2013 and started to head in the other direction.

And there is a couple of scary pieces to this as you go even deeper:

  1. It’s not because our population is growing or we have more cars on our roads. Our fatality rate per vehicle and per person in NZ is in fact now increasing faster than our population growth.

2. Is it pure coincidence, or is it very nerve-racking that the region with the consistently highest WoF failure rates is also the one with the highest road toll?

Now I love my friends down in the Waikato, but this isn’t one to be proud of. 47% of vehicles fail their WoF in the Waikato each year, AND they also have had the highest road toll for 6 of the last 7 years.

And whilst currently minor, one of the fastest-growing causes of road fatalities is, yip, you guessed it, ‘Fatality due to vehicle factors’ which has almost doubled from 5.5% of all fatalities in 2015 to closer to 9% in 2019.

Now I can understand why people are turning a blind eye to this stuff. It’s a pain to navigate the logistics of not having your car for a day, and it’s expensive. If we take a look at the AA’s latest report on running costs of a standard petrol engined medium-sized car, you’re looking down the barrel of $1300+ per year in servicing, tyres and repairs. Bet you didn’t account for that when your freshly imported second hand Mazda Alexa (the highest imported second-hand model to NZ) rolled off the boat.

AA Running Cost Report for petrol-driven cars.

The fact is, people are irrational and buy cars at their upfront value without factoring in the ongoing running costs, then skimp on looking after them because it’s easy to ignore and hope for the best. They wait till they fail a warrant, then do the minimum to keep it on the road.

Now it might sound like a shameless business plug, but we need to take a hard look at how we are looking after our cars. NZ has one of the most diverse vehicle fleets in the world, with a crazy amount of imports coming in, often with minimal history attached. They are then let loose on our roads, only to be checked in once a year for a quick WoF, which may inspect vehicle safety, but doesn’t go on to check vehicle health (maybe another rant to come on the vehicle graveyard that may soon become NZ).

Come on NZ. Let’s take better care of our cars, so we don’t need to have the same anxiety my friend on the plane had each time we jump in the driver’s seat of our cars.


References:

  • MTA Vehicle Inspection Report 2019
  • AA Running Cost Report 2019
  • Ministry of Transport Road Death Report Jan 2020

Meet one of our awesome drivers: Cameron

We love the team that work alongside us to move your car from home, work or wherever you choose, to our garages to get some love. Our driver-partners come from all walks of life and have their own stories, so we thought you might like to get to know a few of them:

What’s your name:
Cameron Brown

Whereabouts do you live?
Glendowie, Auckland.

Why do you drive with My Auto Shop?
My Auto Shop allows me to make quick and easy cash at times that suit me.
The app has been well thought out and the drivers are also well looked after.

What were you doing before this?
During the university holidays, I have been managing a Christmas tree business. Aside from managing the business, my job doubled as a driver delivering and removing trees all around Auckland.

What does your weekend normally look like?
When I’m not working, you will find me at the golf course, watching the NBA and/or enjoying a cold beverage.

Tell us something fascinating about yourself?
I am a student at the University of Otago where I study majors in Economics and Finance. While based in Otago, I enjoy exploring all the South Island has to offer from picturesque walks to skiing.

We will keep introducing more drivers, so when they arrive to pick up your car, it will be a familiar face.

Meet Sasha — The king of hustle.

We want to introduce a few of our great people working hard to get My Auto Shop off the ground. First cab off the rank is Sasha:

Sasha is the king of hustle and communication. He is often juggling many balls effortlessly, with a phone in one hand and keyboard in the other. He makes sure our drivers, customers and garages all know what happening everyday. Fortunately, being an engineer, he is able to bring method to the madness.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hey there! I’m Sasha, a Mechanical Engineering Student at the University of Auckland. While born in raised in Auckland, New Zealand, I come from a Russian and American background. Currently I am learning to speak Russian to connect more with my heritage.

What interests you about this industry?

Getting involved in a business like My Auto Shop has always been a dream of mine. I want to solve real problems for real people and to build great products with great teams, so I can have a real positive impact on the world, one interaction at a time. I am an enthusiastic learner who has a deep interest and a passion for emerging technology.

What do you do at My Auto Shop?

I wear many hats and help the wheels go round. I run the operations behind the scenes, ensuring everything runs smoothly for all aspects of the business. You can find me behind the desk, phone in hand organizing logistics and operations to ensure everyone knows what they are doing.

What were you doing before this?

Still as a student, I was spending majority of my time spread between studying and sports. I currently am, and still studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Auckland. Throughout the year, I have tried my hand in various start-up competitions such as Velocity Entrepreneurship to help feed my interests.

What does your weekend normally look like?

Behind a camera snapping photos or behind a piano, playing baseball, and having good times with my mates. Exploring Auckland and its wonderful scenic are also common.

Reimagining the car maintenance industry

Have you ever felt that feeling of anxiety when you take your car to your local mechanic to get an annual service but know deep down, it won’t be as straightforward as it says on the board?

Then, you get the call in the middle of the day, saying your car needs new suspension bushes, a transmission flush, new brake rotors AND it will cost over $800. You quickly ask yourself 3 questions which you really don’t know the answer to:

  1. What are all these things?
  2. Do I really need them?
  3. Should it really cost that much?

Hi, my name’s Andy. I recently started My Auto Shop, to take that sinking stomach and confused feelings out of car maintenance.

Kiwi’s love their cars. We have the 3rd highest vehicles per capita in the world and rely on them completely due to limited public transport infrastructure. However, our car fleet in NZ is actually pretty old, with the average age being 14 years, which is 4 years older than our neighbours in Australia.

Global fleet age (USA, CAN, AUS, NZL)

However the car maintenance industry in NZ is an incredibly fragmented place that hasn’t evolved much in the last 20–40 years. With over 4600 independent garages around the country, offering different services at different costs, consumers have so much noise to navigate and no way to tell what information is credible.

What’s more, the information gap is growing. As cars get more complex and generations become less mechanically minded, customers are not in the driver’s seat when managing these transactions. Unfortunately, this has been taken advantage of by some mechanics and customers are now worried about being ‘taken for a ride’.

A recent survey in the UK found that:

  • 23% of people felt ripped off by the price they were quoted when they last
    visited a car mechanic;
  • 23% also felt stressed out by the experience and 25% were even nervous about entering a garage;
  • 45% had no idea how much common car repairs should cost.

However it seems that NZ may have more trouble, with a recent survey finding that 73% of younger generations are worried about mechanics ripping them off, compared to only 42% of baby boomers.

Introducing My Auto Shop.

My Auto Shop is here to take the pain and confusion out of car maintenance. Our new business model solves for trust and convenience when servicing your car in a way not seen before in NZ, and only feasible now thanks to recent technological advances.

Firstly, bridging the trust gap:

My Auto Shop provides you a fixed, tailored price for your car, based on the time it takes to complete that job and the retail parts cost specific to your car. Our MTA approved, carefully selected partner-garages are the ones to complete the job to a high standard. If they find anything outside of the stipulated work that needs to be done, they get in touch with us to arrange the next steps. We then validate the job and quote against fair market rates, before confirming with the customer, so they can be sure they are getting only what needs to be done, at the right price.

Secondly, making it easy and affordable to customers:

We have a fantastic group of driver-partners, whom thanks to the recent advancements in E-scooter technology, are able to get around Auckland efficiently, moving cars from customer’s home, work or elsewhere, to garages, and back again. My Auto Shop uses internationally developed, best in class dispatch technology to manage all the moving parts each day, and give customers full transparency through the experience. We will share more thoughts in coming weeks on how we are tackling some of the tricky one-way trip problems too. Watch this space!

So who are we?

The founder, Andy Bowie, was most recently was the Country Manager for Uber Eats in NZ, growing the food delivery business rapidly in the last 2 years across NZ. Previously to this, Andy worked in the Uber business both in its early days in NZ and across South East Asia. Prior to Uber, Andy held roles in media companies Facebook and Frontside.

You can see a recent interview on Switch TV with Andy, talking through the logic behind My Auto Shop, as well as some of the hard challenges, HERE.

My Auto Shop founder Andy Bowie

So where can you find us?

We have launched in inner Auckland, but plan to be expanding quickly to the big centers in NZ by the end of the year.

We want to reinvent the way you manage your car, by ensuring that you receive a convenient service, that you can trust. Because your car’s worth it.

http://www.myautoshop.co.nz