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NZ market shaken but not stirred

Red hot: Toyota's HiLux is the top-selling vehicle in New Zealand this year.

Earthquake, tax hike and other disasters fail to derail motor sales recovery

General News logo6 Oct 2010

By JACQUI MADELIN in New Zealand

NEW Zealand new-vehicle sales continued their steady climb last month, with 2010 sales reaching 59,836 after nine months, up 14.1 per cent over the same period of 2009.

Year to date, passenger car numbers are up 13.6 per cent, to 6298 units, while commercials are up 15.8 per cent, to 1646. Used import numbers have risen 34.5 per cent, to 68,073.

This despite the Canterbury earthquake, collapse of South Canterbury Finance, a 2.5 per cent sales tax rise to 15 per cent and severe storms at lambing time.

However, the industry reported little effect from these events.

Motor Industry Association CEO Perry Kerr said some private buyers purchased because of the GST lift but not in huge numbers.

Instead, the sales rise was mainly being driven by fleet replacement, he said.

Toyota is on track for its 23rd year on top of the NZ new-vehicle market, topping sales to the end of September, with 12,383 vehicles – a rise of 17.2 per cent.

80 center imageFrom top: Toyota Corolla, Nissan Navara, Holden Commodore.

Ford sits second with 6881 sales, up six per cent, and Holden is third on 5806, up 19.7 per cent.

Mazda consolidates fourth with 4836, up 14.9 per cent, ahead of Hyundai on 4125, up 9.9 per cent.

Nissan’s 4085 sales are up 22 per cent on last year, marking a share increase from 6.17 to 6.83 per cent.

Nissan NZ managing director John Manley said: “We are faring much better, with Qashqai adding to volume. The market is definitely on the turn, but not as strongly as some would like.”

Suzuki sits seventh with 3484, up 21.4 per cent. Its marketing general manager Tom Peck cites strong sales for Swift, the launch of three updates and the introduction of Kizashi, with buyers largely coming out of Euro brands.

“The Canterbury earthquake had an effect, as Christchurch is our biggest dealer,” he said.

“There was not much impact from the collapse of Canterbury Finance, but finance company collapses are unsettling private buyers who remain cautious.”

Mitsubishi’s share rose from 4.45 per cent last year to 5.66 to the end September, its 3384 sales up 41.4 per cent for eighth place.

Mitsubishi general manager sales and marketing Warren Brown said the arrival of ASX boosted sales in September, but stock losses from Southland’s storms would impact sales in the last quarter through lost revenue.

He said confidence levels were still fragile, but “we’re expecting a slow but steady pick-up”.

Honda still languishes in ninth place on 1890 sales – a drop of 16.4 per cent on last year.

After 18 months of falling sales, Honda is pinning its hopes on the arrival of the Insight hybrid and the publicity spin-off from this month’s EnergyWise economy rally.

Honda NZ head of marketing Graeme Myer said Insight “means Honda has a hatchback for the first time since Civic ended in 2005, and it will stimulate interest in dealers.” However, he is not expecting stock – and therefore sales – until November.

VW rounds out the top 10 with 1814 sales, up 18.8 per cent.

Meanwhile, Subaru threatens Kia. Its 47.5 per cent increase took it to 1593 sales, just 27 units short of the Korean’s 1620, a 1.1 per cent rise on last year.

Subaru managing director Wallis Dumper says: “We’re on fire.

“The business hasn’t succumbed to the need to jump into the discount market, so it’s kept stability.”

He also cites consistent brand marketing, “and we’ve focused on the fact the cars are now a lot more economical – a whole lot of little things has kept the brand out there.”

Audi is up 29.2 per cent for 1053 sales and leads the luxury table by 16 vehicles from Mercedes-Benz.

Manufacturers predict the market to end the year up about 14 per cent, with sales lifting a further five to eight per cent over the next two years.

The top-selling model so far this year is Toyota HiLux on 2889, followed by Toyota Corolla on 2843, Suzuki Swift at 2116, Nissan Navara on 1757 and Holden Commodore at 1651 sales.

NZ top 10 makesSeptember 2010:

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