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NZ market maintains upward trend

On top: Toyota's Corolla remains New Zealand's top-selling car, helping to keep Toyota number one in 2010.

Passenger car growth spurs New Zealand new-vehicle sales to 7.5 per cent recovery

General News logo13 Apr 2010

By JACQUI MADELIN in NEW ZEALAND

NEW ZEALAND new-vehicle sales improved for the third consecutive month in March, finishing the first quarter of 2010 up 7.5 per cent on the same period of 2009, to 19,349 vehicles, according to figures supplied by the NZ Motor Industry Association (MIA).

The used-import market also was up 39.3 per cent, to 22,114 vehicles to the end of March.

March sales grew 8.4 per cent, with most of the growth coming from passenger cars, up 10.4 per cent to 5392 units. Commercial vehicles registrations rose just two per cent, to 1595 vehicles, in line with the year-to-date trend.

Top selling car in March was the Toyota Corolla (296 registrations), with Suzuki Swift second (270) and the Holden Commodore third (224).

MIA chief executive Perry Kerr said the market was improving slowly but steadily, in line with MIA predictions.

After the first quarter, Toyota still tops the new-vehicle leader board, up 20.3 per cent to 3871, for 20 per cent share year to date.

80 center image Left: Suzuki Swift. Below: Ford Fiesta.

Holden is second, with 10.8 per cent share, with Ford third on 9.7 per cent for the quarter. But Holden’s 2097 year-to-date total is up 18.9 per cent on the same time last year, while Ford’s tally has dropped 17.4 per cent, to 1889 units.

Ford’s fall is largely due to a decline in light commercial sales, with Ranger stock constrained, according to Ford NZ managing director Trevor Auger.

However, he said, Fiesta had its best-ever March to somewhat offset that fall.

Holden general marketing manager Matthew Woodley said its increase comes from the passenger car sales growth, with both fleet and private sales trending up.

He said Holden is cautiously optimistic it can maintain the momentum.

Next comes Mazda with 1622 sales, up 4.5 per cent for 8.38 per cent share with Nissan in fifth for the year.

Nissan’s 1261 sales tally represents a 22.4 per cent lift, the increase credited to Qashqai which brought Nissan into a new segment, as well as a more committed Auckland dealer that took Nissan on last April.

Nissan marketing operations manager Peter Merrie expects continued sales improvements until the Qashqai effect wears off.

Hyundai holds sixth, its sales rises stalled by lower March figures, while Suzuki is seventh.

The happiest of the mass-market brands – Mitsubishi – is eighth with 1151 sales year to date, marking a 36.5 per cent rise on the first quarter last year.

The company’s general sales manager sales and marketing Warren Brown cites continuing interest in Outlander, Triton and Challenger, all released late last year, along with a great presence in the market place.

“Early last year we were still inching prices up when others still stood still and we’d been doing no marketing, so didn’t have a profile in the market,” he said.

This year, Mr Brown cited a tactical press campaign with special offers available through to late April, plus reinvigorated distributor and dealer team.

“As a result, January was strong for us at a time when we’re usually slow out of the blocks.” Suzuki, also hard-hit in 2009, is up 41.1 per cent for the first quarter this year to 1219 units, with strong selling of Swift and facelift SX4. With Kizashi bringing the brand to a new segment from mid-May, automobile sales manager Gary Collins expects new buyers to the brand and a continued lift in sales.

Honda now sits in ninth place year to date, with 663 sales dropping it a further 35.1 per cent on last year’s figure – a second consecutive year of significant decreases.

Tenth-placed Volkswagen heads the European brands with 633 sales, up 15.3 per cent, with all the major European brands continuing to trend ahead of the gradual sales recovery.

Overall the story is improving sales, although optimism at this year’s 7.5 per cent rise is tempered by the knowledge that’s compared to March 2009, which marked a 31.8 per cent fall over the first quarter 2008.

New Zealand top ten brands in March:
Rank Make Volume % share
1 Toyota 1392 19.92%
2 Holden 741 10.61%
3 Ford 673 9.63%
4 Mazda 581 8.32%
5 Hyundai 507 7.26%
6 Mitsubishi 492 7.04%
7 Nissan 467 6.68%
8 Suzuki 434 6.21%
9 Honda 281 4.02%
10 Volkswagen 210 3.01%

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