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NZ car sales rugby-tackled

Chart-topper: With supplies of the in-demand HiLux drying up, Toyota’s Corolla hit the top of the NZ sales chart in October.

On-field success not yet reflected in showrooms as New Zealand goes World Cup mad

General News logo7 Nov 2011

By JACQUI MADELIN in New Zealand

OCTOBER saw new vehicle sales in New Zealand drop slightly over the same month in 2010, with dealers reporting buyer focus on the Rugby World Cup affecting both private and fleet sales.

Sales were also affected by school holidays, with the terms having been moved this year to coincide with the World Cup, the finals of which were staged in Wellington and Auckland from October 8 to 23.

Sales dropped 3.7 per cent to 7026 units compared with October 2010 – which was itself soft due to a GST tax increase – with passenger car sales down 7.5 per cent to 5428 while commercial vehicles rose 11.7 per cent to 1431.

Used import sales were more heavily impacted, down 9.9 per cent to 6267 units.

Motor Industry Association CEO Perry Kerr said there was no immediate end to the market uncertainty in sight.

“We were disappointed in the overall sales numbers as the Japanese industry has finally got back on its feet following the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami,” he said.

80 center imageLeft: The Hyundai i30, Suzuki Splash and Toyota HiLux were all big sellers last month. Below: The all-new Ford Ranger.

“Unfortunately, production of utes is now taking a hit due to the extensive flooding in Thailand, which has closed the vast majority of parts manufacturers. This has resulted in the vehicle manufacturers ceasing production.

“Looking forward, our expectation is that November will remain weak as buyers’ attention is diverted towards the forthcoming election. We however remain hopeful that total new vehicle sales for the full year will exceed 2010.”

Toyota dominated the month despite dropping 6.4 per cent, selling 1800 vehicles for a 25.6 per cent market share.

Toyota NZ sales and operations manager Steve Prangnell put the reduction down to lower rental numbers, in part due to tsunami-caused shortages.

Mr Prangnell told GoAuto he expects the light truck market – despite strong demand as Christchurch starts rebuilding – to be constricted for two or three months as Thai manufacturers concentrate on restoring their home market before recommencing exports.

Second-placed Ford dropped 23.0 per cent to 711, with Ford NZ managing director Neale Hill reporting slow enquiry rates from the major centres, especially in the World Cup knockout stages.

However, Mr Hill said Ford had sufficient stock of Thai-built vehicles to last until late December andwas confident the company’s numbers would improve in November given launch activities around Ranger and Focus.

With strong supply, Hyundai had a big month with 702 sales (up 11.1 per cent), overtaking Holden for third place and finishing just nine units behind Ford for second.

Holden lost 12.7 per cent, primarily due to a big drop in rentals, dropping to fourth behind Hyundai by just seven units.

Mazda fell 9.1 per cent to 472 while Suzuki improved 1.1 per cent to 363 due to strong sales of the Splash light car.

Mitsubishi recorded a 22nd consecutive month of year-on-year improvement, up 6.3 per cent to 353 sales to move ahead of Nissan, which was down 10.8 per cent due to stock shortages.

Nissan NZ managing director John Manley said: “The models we want we can’t get, and we’re going into another round of difficulties with the Thailand situation. Nissan Japan is confident it can restore production very quickly as some components can be sourced from Japan.”

Mr Manley does not expect the November 26 election to impact sales.

“Even if the government changed, there won’t be a drastic shift in anything that has a real impact on business, and 70 per cent of vehicles are purchased for what you could term business use,” he told GoAuto.

Volkswagen rose 9.7 per cent to 203, while Kia beat Honda into the top 10 by 43 cars, up 10.4 per cent to 180 sales despite stock shortages caused by global demand.

Toyota tops the year-to-date tables with 13,626 sales for a 19.2 per cent share followed by Ford and Holden.

Although the HiLux remains the top-selling vehicle for the year, Toyota’s Corolla small car took the top spot for October with 528 registrations, ahead of the Hyundai i30 on 309 and the newly-launched Toyota Yaris with 305.

Mr Manley said he hopes the motoring industry will not have to face any further global challenges in the near future.

“I’ve been in this game a long time and have never seen anything like two major natural disasters, one hard on the heels of the other, and a recession to add another layer,” he told us.

“But we won the rugby, people feel better and summer’s coming, (and) if we get the election out of the way that will translate into more economic activity.”
NZ Sales October2011:
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