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NZ motor sales creep up three per cent

Sales challenge: Mitsubishi launched the Challenger in New Zealand last month, helping the company to an 84 per cent sales rise.

Light at the end of the tunnel in New Zealand new-vehicle sales

General News logo5 Feb 2010

By JACQUI MADELIN in NEW ZEALAND

NEW ZEALAND new-vehicle sales last month rose three per cent over January last year, to 6703 vehicles, raising hopes that the worst is behind the industry.

Passenger cars did best, with 5601 new registrations for January, up 5.8 per cent. New commercials were down 9 per cent, to 1012, while used imported vehicle numbers increased by 25.5 per cent, to 7095 units.

Motor Industry Association chief executive officer Perry Kerr said he was quietly confident the new-vehicle industry had turned the corner, "with industry forecasts showing that we would now see slow but modest growth from here on out”.

Toyota again topped commercial, passenger and total market sales, up 15.5 per cent to 1490 vehicles for a 22.2 per cent share. Behind it, Holden, with 805 sales, was down 0.7 per cent for 12 per cent share. Ford rounded out the top three, down 29.8 per cent with 610 sales, and 9.1 per cent share.

80 center imageFrom top: Holden Cruze, Suzuki Swift and Toyota Corolla.

Mazda sales rose 14.4 per cent to 579 units to take fourth place, followed by Suzuki up 52.6 per cent on 441, Nissan up seven per cent on 351, Hyundai up 0.3 per cent to 346, and Mitsubishi up 84.1 per cent on 313. Kia, up 86 per cent on 253 and Volkswagen, up 11.3 per cent on 236, rounded out the top 10.

Honda dropped out of top 10 for the first time in at least eight years, with just 193 sales – a 46.1 per cent drop on last January, which was 23.8 per cent down on 2008.

Honda NZ managing director of Graeme Seymour said: "We won't get into distress selling as that undermines the customers we have already. We're in a longer game." Mercedes-Benz sales fell 21.6 per cent, to 99 units, while rivals rose – Audi (154) was up 43.9 per cent, and BMW (140) were up 68.7 per cent.

Skoda’s sales tally of 25 units was well down on its 62 units in January 2009 when sales were boosted by fleet sales. Those are less likely now given new government procurement rules that take effect in June, when one office will approve tenders for all government vehicles.

Auckland's amalgamation of local councils to form a super-city is also creating ripples in the fleet market. Suzuki’s marketing general manager Tom Peck said Suzuki's sales rise this month came via demand from private buyers for Swift and SX4 on zero per cent finance.

"We'll continue the promotion to the end of February and reassess," he said.

Suzuki is concentrating on its mid-year launch of its all-new Kizashi mid-size sedan. "We'll have a major launch as we hope by then the market will be showing a lift - timing is everything." Mitsubishi's rise came courtesy of a 2009 figure that was well down on the year before. But it launched Challenger in January and a two-wheel-drive Outlander.

Mitsubishi sales and marketing general manager Peter Wilkins said the company’s forecasters were predicting a lift in the second half of the year.

“I'm not as confident, but if the total market holds we will retain our start of the year numbers," he said.

The biggest swing for the month was recorded by Land Rover, its 69 sales a 305.9 per cent increase over last year.

Motorcorp Distributors Ltd executive chairman Russell Reynolds said last year Land Rover was short of stock, ran out of 2009 models early, and the sales increase comes via pent-up demand "If you average January sales, we'll be 116 per cent up, but 69 units per month is not realistic, ongoing." The top-selling model for January was the Toyota Corolla, followed by the Holden Cruze – both boosted by big rental orders – with the Suzuki Swift in third place.

New Zealand top ten brands in January:
Rank Make Volume % share
1 Toyota 1490 22.23%
2 Holden 805 12.01%
3 Ford 610 9.1%
4 Mazda 579 8.64%
5 Suzuki 441 6.58%
6 Nissan 351 5.24%
7 Hyundai 346 5.16%
8 Mitsubishi 313 4.67%
9 Kia 253 3.77%
10 Volkswagen 193 2.88%

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