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NZ car market takes a breather

Sales growth eases in New Zealand as stock shortages and nerves make for hard work

General News logo6 Aug 2010

By JACQUI MADELIN in New Zealand

NEW ZEALAND’S motor industry has notched its seventh consecutive month of increased vehicle sales, despite an easing of market growth in July.

The 5997 passenger and LCV sales for the month represent a rise of 4.5 per cent on July 2009.

The 4446 passenger sales are just 27 units ahead of July last year, with 1551 commercial registrations, up 11 per cent.

Motor Industry Association CEO Perry Kerr said that after six months of continued growth, the MIA was not surprised the new-car market had taken breath.

“Year to date, the numbers of 34,728 are still ahead of our forecasts,” he said. “In the commercial vehicle market, the positive impact of Fieldays is still being felt, which is encouraging for the economy as a whole.”

However, finance company feedback is that dealers had to work hard for sales last month, compounded by stock shortages as lifting markets overseas compete for available supply.

The used import market’s 8105 tally marks a 26.7 per cent increase on July 2009.

Toyota tops the new passenger car and commercial vehicle market with 1031 sales, down 4.5 per cent for 17.9 per cent share, while Ford returns to second spot, its 766 July sales a 6.8 per cent rise for 12.77 per cent share.

80 center imageFrom top: Hyundai i30, Mitsubishi ASX, Nissan Dualis.

Ford NZ managing director Trevor Auger said Falcon 50th anniversary models stimulated showroom traffic, making for a solid month across the board.

“We’ve had trouble getting Ranger stock, but that’s worked itself out so we’ve turned light commercial numbers around,” he said.

But Mr Auger adds: “We didn’t expect July to fall away quite as much as it did was it an aberration or a warning signal? I guess we’ll find out in a few weeks time.”

Mazda’s 568 sales marked its largest July market share at 9.47 per cent for third, and its second-highest market share on record.

Mazda New Zealand managing director Andrew Clearwater says every model contributed strongly with slow growth driven mainly by fleet replacement as the private buyer remains cautious.

“We’re still calling the year at close to 80,000, with a pre-GST increase spike before October offset by a drop after,” he said.

Holden sits close behind with 561 sales, down 11.1 per cent, with Nissan rounding out the top five on 464 sales, up 14.3 per cent.

Nissan NZ managing director John Manley remains cautious. “July was a much slower turnaround than we’ve seen year to date.

“A lot of factors are affecting the market,” he said. “It’s a cold winter there was a big month in June. New Zealand has three consecutive months with business confidence down but we see growth as sustainable.”

Mr Manley said his company was having supply or production restraints “so our arrivals aren’t always here when we need them.”“A lot of franchises are finding it difficult to secure supply of some models, which is positive but might mean some month-on-month fluctuations,” Mr Manley said.

“We’d rather see that it’s a consolidated impact and if the market is growing globally it’s a good sign. After all, we all know if things go south the first thing to go is motor cars.”

Hyundai takes sixth spot, down 10.3 per cent to 408 sales then Mitsubishi up 63.4 per cent on 384 sales, and Suzuki down 3.5 per cent to 333.

Hyundai chief operating officer Tom Ruddenklau said Hyundai’s drop is caused by stock shortages created by global demand.

“We’ve got an enormous amount of back orders so it’s a timing issue for us,” he said.

Mitsubishi general sales manager sales and marketing Warren Brown says he sells out of Triton each month.

But ASX hit showrooms in late July and immediately sold 83 examples “We picked ASX confidently, have good volumes landing and our August wholesale numbers are already strong.”

Honda’s back in the top 10 in ninth, up 9.1 per cent to 191 sales, while VW rounds out the top 10, up 22.2 per cent to 176.

Honda NZ managing director Graeme Seymour said the private market was still down 30 per cent, so difficult times could be expected, particularly as low milk prices did not did improve confidence.

“July’s figure indicates Honda is turning a corner, with new models due which will be a catalyst for growth. That said, we remain cautious given the economy is still fragile.”

Top three models for July were Ford Falcon, Toyota Corolla and Mazda3.

NZ top 10 makes July 2010:
RankMakeSales% Share
Source: MIA NZ

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