Auckland firm gives car trade online registrations

Car licensing and registration will soon be available online to the motor vehicle trade, thanks to an Auckland company.

Car licensing and registration will soon be available online to the motor vehicle trade, thanks to an Auckland company.

On Tap Information is to extend the Motorweb VIR system it launched two weeks ago, which checks the condition and ownership of vehicles. The inspection system is aimed at the consumer, while online registering and licensing of vehicles is to be for the trade only.

Founder and managing director Pat Costigan says instead of having to leave their offices to complete licensing and registration paperwork, garages and motor traders will now be able to do it online and the data should integrate with their back-office systems.

Costigan says developing Motorweb VIR alone took more than nine years at a cost of more than $1 million. Getting approval from the government for the information also took “a number of years”, says Costigan. He says only one other firm has similar rights. “We also have a special agreement to web-enable motor licensing, registration and change of ownership,” he says.

Registration starts in a few weeks, followed by vehicle licensing and re-licensing in June. Online securities and road user certificates follow within a few months. The internet-based service will run alongside existing government operations in Palmerston North.

“We are bringing the motor vehicle industry the same level of information the travel industry has enjoyed for a number of years,” says Costigan.

The patented VIR system for the public can instantly highlight legal or ownership problems with a vehicle. Already used by car dealers, auctions and car fairs, the VIR service can reveal vehicles on which money is owed, are stolen or are of interest to police, have suspicious odometer readings, have unusual readings or otherwise trigger any one of 44 other “alert” warnings. The service costs $25.

On Tap says tests performed last week revealed cars with wound-back odometers, likely accident damage and other problems.

On Tap seeks capital for growth

It might be an online first for New Zealand, but a lack of $200,000 venture capital could cost On Tap Information “tens of millions” in lost exports.

Costigan, who is also chairman of the New Zealand Inventors Trust, says a large Asian country has approached the firm about automating its motor vehicle registration system. But On Tap cannot raise the capital to expand and take on the project. He says he needs “a couple of hundred thousand” to visit the government and follow-up initiatives.

New Zealand government agencies have given some “small grants” but nothing apparently exists to help On Tap now. Venture capitalists say the registering product is still at too early a stage of development, On Tap has tried to find “angel” investors, receiving some, but insufficient, help from The Warehouse’s Stephen Tindall.

“We have been talking to government and lobbying government that there needs to be more angel investment. However, the whole project will disappear because there is no capital. It’s potentially worth many tens of millions of dollars but it’s the same old story of Kiwis missing out,” Costigan says.

A spokesman for the Minister of Economic Development, Jim Anderton, says Industry New Zealand will speak to the firm to see how it can help.

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