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Light trucks hit back in NZ
New Zealand notches fifth successive sales rise as LCVs join market recovery
7 Jun 2010
A WELCOME lift in light-commercial vehicle demand helped New Zealand’s motor industry to its fifth consecutive monthly sales increase last month.
May's overall sales tally of 6417 vehicles marked a 21.2 per cent rise on May 2009, with passenger cars and LCVs both recording increases.
The 1801 LCV sales were not only up 37 per cent on the corresponding month last year but also represented the best light-truck performance in 11 months.
Passenger car registrations rose 16 per cent to 4616 vehicles, compared with May 2009.
Year to date, passenger car registrations are up 14 per cent, to 24,496 units.
Motor Industry Association chief executive officer Perry Kerr said the market was running slightly ahead of the industry projection, “so we are very happy with these results”.
Used import sales also rose 40.8 per cent in May, to 7605.
Suzuki's evergreen Swift knocked Toyota's Corolla from its top passenger model spot for May with 249 registrations, while Hyundai's i30 entered the top three, in second place with 217 sales, and Corolla took third place (199).
From top: Nissan Navara, Toyota HiAce, Suzuki Swift
Toyota's Hilux still dominates the LCV charts, selling 477 in May, with Nissan's Navara on 233 and Toyota's Hiace at 204.
Toyota retains overall sales dominance, its 1294 sales up 22.1 per cent on last May for 20.17 per cent share.
Ford sales rose 26.1 per cent to 812 units for second, with Holden third, up 55.5 per cent to 622.
Hyundai took fourth, up 16.7 per cent to 517 sales, while Mazda dropped to fifth for the month, its 513 tally marking a rise of 22.1 per cent.
Nissan's 461 sales places it sixth for April, up 9.5 per cent, while Suzuki tallied 422 sales, up 14.4 per cent.
Kizashi's launch into a new segment hasn't impacted Suzuki's sales total, its private buyer target apparently still reluctant to spend.
However, Suzuki NZ's marketing general manager, Tom Peck, said: "We've got a lot of test drives lined up, with 11,000-odd responses to our Air NZ promo." Mitsubishi was again a big mover, up 72.7 per cent for 285 sales and eighth place.
Recently appointed Mitsubishi NZ sales and marketing manager Warren Brown said Mitsubishi had experienced poor May sales last year.
However, he said: “Growth had been significant from February, when we had a lot of personnel changes and invested more in marketing." He said he was expecting another boost from the National Agricultural Fieldays, the southern hemisphere's largest agri-business exhibition.
"We've been low in stock but have a shipment due just for Fieldays," he said.
Honda languishes in ninth, down 15.8 per cent to 186, just six ahead of Kia, which rounded out the top 10 at 280 sales, 2.9 per cent over May 2009 and only six ahead of Subaru.
Kia NZ general manager Todd McDonald said sales had been impacted by a shortage of Sorento stocks and losing Sportage - with its replacement not due until fourth quarter.
He's not alone in holding his breath for big changes in NZ's new-car market from mid-June, when restructuring of government fleets takes effect.
Suzuki's Mr Peck said: "We submitted 10 cars and got two on the list, and a number of manufacturers have been excluded.
“The list will be public at the end of June and the result will be tough for some of us. We've been selling Swift to government departments, and that's not on the list, so that will have an effect."Meanwhile, a rise in sales tax from 12.5 to 15 per cent is confirmed from October 1.
Kia's Mr McDonald says: "Based on previous historical data, you could assume a lift in sales the month before GST rises and a drop after."The change is expected to impact private sales rather than fleet.
Year to date, overall sales are up 12.2 per cent to 31,454, still headed by Toyota (6243), Ford (3357) and Holden (3338).
But distributors remain reluctant to predict year-end figures. Subaru NZ managing director Graeme Woodlands points out the financial crisis really hit this time last year, making comparative figures dubious.
He joins a chorus predicting the market to settle up 10 per cent on 2009 by year’s end, unless Europe's ongoing economic woes infect global markets.
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