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NZ car sales at decade low in November

Top banana: The Suzuki Swift was New Zealand's top-selling car on November.

Just 6000 vehicle sales in NZ last month, but hope springs for depressed industry

General News logo4 Dec 2009

By JACQUI MADELIN in New Zealand

NEW Zealand’s November new-vehicle sales last month failed to reach 6000 for the first time since 1998.

The industry total of 5735 vehicles was down 12.3 per cent on the same month last year, with commercial vehicles sales falling 23.8 per cent, to 1249 units. Passenger car sales reached 4486, down 8.4 per cent on the corresponding month of 2008.

Year to date, NZ vehicle are down 28.1 per cent to 65,063 units, and still on track for the expected 30 per cent overall fall from last year.

The used import vehicle November tally of 6912 is up 10.1 per cent on last year, also heading for a 30 per cent overall drop this year.

NZ Motor Industry Association CEO Perry Kerr said the decline appeared to be levelling off, but he noted that the November 2008 market had “tipped completely”.

“I think the numbers are certainly in line with expectations we were predicting a 30 per cent decline in numbers at the beginning of the year," he said.

"MIA members are predicting a maximum five per cent growth evident from second quarter 2010.

“There is confidence the corner has been turned, but it will be long and slow. There is no magic bullet out there for the car industry, and new vehicle sales."

 center imageLeft: Mitsubishi Outlander.

Toyota leads November's figures with 1335 sales, down 1.5 per cent on last November for a 23.3 per cent share. Ford still holds second (622 sales, down 47.7 per cent), Holden third (564 sales, up 0.4 per cent) and Mazda fourth (481 sales, up 12.3 per cent).

Hyundai holds fifth for November with 385 sales, up 9.7 per cent, for 6.7 per cent share for the month and 6.9 for the year.

Hyundai national sales manager Tom Ruddenklau said its goal is to beat Toyota in the passenger car market by 2013, but admitted increasing the Korean brand's share from seven per cent to overhaul Toyota on 21.52 for the year was ambitious.

Ford NZ managing director Trevor Auger said his company’s 47.7 per cent drop was partly due to a 61 per cent fall in rental registrations compared to November last year.

"At the same time our volume suffered from low inventory levels across key models, particularly Fiesta and Territory." Mr Auger said last year, dealers had been working hard to reduce stock in line with changed demand, which was no longer the case. Mitsubishi had a 20.3 per cent rise in November sales over the same month last year, to 255 units.

National sales manager Warren Brown credited the lift with the launch of new models, particularly a strong response to Outlander, plus the fact that last November was a bad one for the brand.

"In October last year we'd adjusted our prices to falling exchange rates pretty smartly," he said. “We had to put prices up or face massive losses, but we were ahead of the game and that impacted November 2008 sales." The luxury market continues to do well, with Audi up 39.1 per cent to 96 units in November, BMW up 25.5 per cent to 64 units, Lexus up 36.7 per cent to 41 units and Mercedes-Benz up 12.3 per cent to 91.

BMW Group New Zealand managing director Mark Gilbert said: "In 2008 the luxury segment was down 30 per cent when the total market was down five, but the impact for the mass market didn't flow through until earlier this year.

“I wouldn't call it green shoots, but I think we're coming back to the level it will be," he said. Suzuki's Swift was NZ's top-seller in November with 205 units from Toyota Corolla (190) and Ford Falcon (188).

Corolla still leads year to date with 4335 sales, from Holden Commodore (2705) and the Swift (2174).

NZ top 10 makes, Nov 2009:
Rank Make Sales % Share
1 Toyota 1335 23.3%
2 Ford 622 10.9%
3 Holden 564 9.8%
4 Mazda 481 8.4%
5 Hyundai 385 6.7%
6 Suzuki 327 5.7%
7 Nissan 325 5.7%
8 Mitsubishi 255 4.5%
9 Honda 217 3.8%
10 Kia 208 3.6%
Source: MIA NZ, December 2009

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