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NZ car industry caught short
Kiwi distributors order up more stock as market recovery lifts sales 15 per cent
6 Jul 2010
By JACQUI MADELIN in New Zealand
NEW ZEALAND’S sixth consecutive month of increased sales has prompted some industry players to predict a 82,000 new-vehicle market by year’s end, despite stock shortages.
Motor Industry Association CEO Perry Kerr says stock levels are at historic lows, but he expects the 2010 market to hold the current 15 per cent gain to the end of the year and continue its upward sales trend into 2011 as ordering recovers.
"The luxury market is doing reasonably well – not unexpected since it runs ahead of mainstream market trends – but all distributors seem to be capturing reasonable market share," he said.
Mr Kerr does not expect NZ’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to make a significant difference.
"We'd like to see ETS have a greater impact in influencing buyer choice,” he said.
The scheme is being phased in over five years, with transport using liquid fossil fuels included in the scheme from January 1, 2011.
NZ’s June year-to-date total of 39,458 passenger cars and commercials is 15.5 per cent above last year.
Toyota continues to lead the market with 21.16 per cent share, its 8351 year-to-date sales up 26.3 per cent - almost reversing its 2009 fall.
Second-placed Ford sits behind the trend, its 4245 YTD sales up 0.4 per cent for 10.76 per cent share. Holden is just 0.44 per cent back, its 4072 sales representing a 34.5 per cent rise on the same period last year, when it suffered stock shortages of Cruze.
From top: Mitsubishi ASX, Citroen C3, Toyota Corolla.
Mazda remains fourth with 3105, a rise of 10.7 per cent to 7.87 per cent share, ahead of Hyundai with 2813 sales, up 11.1 for 10.32 per cent share.
Then comes Nissan (2610, up 17.5 per cent), Suzuki (2389, up 26.3) and Mitsubishi (2154, up 51.6).
Honda sits well back in ninth (1280, down 22.4) while VW rounds out the top 10, (1280, up 8.8 per cent).
The prime Euro marques continue to do well, with Audi up 36.3 per cent and BMW, up 39.4 per cent. Mercedes dropped 8.1 per cent - against a comparatively good first-half result in 2009.
Mitsubishi has made all the ground it lost last year – and more.
NZ sales and marketing manager Warren Brown said the market was ahead of early predictions, and he expected more of the same for Mitsubishi too - with ASX launching on August 1.
However, the market was still fragile and susceptible to outside influences, he said.
"Confidence is improving in both the private and fleet market, but it's cautious and it wouldn't take much to sit it on its bum again," he said, predicting a year-end rise of 10-to-12 per cent over 2009.
Suzuki marketing general manager Tom Peck expects 2010 to end 15 per cent up. He says buyers are still conservative: "There's a lot of disruption with ETS, GST changes and tax cuts, so we don't see the market recovering to pre-2009 levels - it'll be a two or three-year uphill climb."Mr Peck said sales lagged behind confidence as buyers took longer to close a sale.
"We're not getting walk-in buyers they're studying the market, and the buyer process is taking longer," he said.
Market leader Toyota NZ’s chief executive Alistair Davis is buoyant after minimal impact from the global recall scandal.
"We did a lot of media interviews but customer demand didn't let up and recent research shows people trust us as much as they ever did,” he said.
“I think customers make judgments based on their own experience. One-in-four New Zealanders drives a Toyota and by and large they are good product. You earn customer trust car by car and experience by experience."He expects supply constraints approaching year end. "We made our ordering judgment some time back and have been surprised how quickly the market has bounced back.
"I think NZ is benefiting from sitting alongside Australia, which is enjoying a mining boom, and Asia which is enjoying economic bounce from being a developing region.
"New Zealand can be buffeted around by global flows of money and debt, but Australia and Asia are shielding us from the vicissitudes of the US and Europe." Ateco Automotive NZ Ltd is already chronically short of stock.
But Citroen's C3 and DS3 are due next month, Alfa Romeo Mito automatics in October, then Giulietta shortly after and Chery launches three cars by year’s end.
It expects plenty of customer interest to spin off into existing models.
"In the last quarter, we'll come out all guns blazing," said Ateco general manager Lawrie Malatios.
As for monthly performance, June's 8004 sales were up 30.8 per cent on last June, which was the lowest since Motor Industry Association sales records began in 1975.
Biggest mainstream movers for the month were Mitsubishi - up 57.2 per cent to 426 sales - and Toyota, up 48.9 to 2108, while Honda continued its slide, ending in 12th for the month behind Kia and VW.
Honda NZ managing director Graeme Seymour insists the brand remains "comfortable" with performance given the private market is still slow.
"We'll see some lift because we launch Insight later in the year, but the market is tough and we're not expecting miracles."Most popular models year to date are Toyota's Corolla, followed by Suzuki Swift and Holden Commodore.
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