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NZ motor sales edge up another notch
February sales grow 11.9 per cent in NZ, continuing the 2010 recovery
5 Mar 2010
By JACQUI MADELIN in New Zealand
NEW Zealand new-vehicle sales improved for the second successive month in February, up 11.9 per cent over the same month last year, to 5659 units.
While pleasing, the market remains fragile, with distributors reporting that buyer interest is still fluctuating from week to week and from region to region.
Passenger car sales in February were up 13.3 per cent, with commercials up 7.4 per cent.
Used imports rose to 6977, an increase of 43.9 per cent over February 2009.
Motor Industry Association chief executive officer Perry Kerr said: "These numbers are further proof of the confidence expressed last month – that the motor industry is on a steadily improving path with better results yet to come."Toyota's 989-unit result was 18.9 per cent above last year, for 17.48 per cent share in February and 20.05 year to date.
Ford sold 606 vehicles, down 2.3 per cent year on year, for a 10.71 per cent share, followed by Holden with 551 sales, up 19 per cent for 9.74 per cent share.
From top: Suzuki Swift, Mazda3 and Holden Commodore.
Holden reports increased inquiry and improved sales across the board from business and retail segments. But it managing director, Simon Carr, is still cautious. "Look where mortgage rates are going that will put a hold on it." Mr Carr expects a three per cent improvement over the whole year, "so we're not ready to declare a victory just yet”.
Mazda remains fourth, down two per cent to 462 sales, with Nissan up 37.6 per cent, to 443 units.
That Nissan increase can almost entirely be attributed to Qashqai (Dualis), which sold 100 units last month. Last February, it had yet to launch Nissan into a new segment.
Hyundai sales was up 4.8 per cent to 393 vehicles Mitsubishi up 43 per cent on 346 - with continuing strong interest in Outlander and Triton, plus an updated Lancer – and Suzuki up 39 per cent to 344.
Honda returned to the top 10 with 189 for the month, down 34.4 per cent on February 2009, which was well down on 2008.
But Honda marketing manager Graeme Meyer said February's sales were artificially boosted by the launch of the latest Jazz and an announcement that Honda would lift prices.
He said expected Honda figures to steady in line with last year's numbers.
Volkswagen rounded out the top 10 with 187 sales, up 14 per cent, knocking Subaru into 11 by just one unit, despite that brand's 45 per cent increase over February 2009.
Toyota's bad press regarding recalls has barely impacted New Zealand, with no apparent effect on sales. Sixty-one Avensis and 260 Prius were caught up in the recall, but no faults have been reported.
Its share has increased, and Toyota general manager sales and operations Steve Prangnell predicts that increase to consolidate.
"Our biggest competitors are falling away as the large car segment falls away - from 14 per cent on 2005 to seven per cent last year," he said.
The year-to-date figures show a gradually increasing gap between Toyota and the best of the rest – Holden, Ford and Mazda.
Ford managing director Trevor Auger said it would no longer try to compete on big fleet sales, where Toyota and Hyundai have the edge by negotiating with big fleets direct, instead of via dealers.
Instead, “we compete with them in the retail fleet part of the market and we will fight them on the beaches”.
As for the Euros, Mercedes sales dropped 37 per cent to 93 sales, while Audi sales gained 21 per cent to 107, and BMW was up 31.5 per cent to 71.
BMW NZ managing director Mark Gilbert expects his sales to rise further with the arrival of the X1 into a new bracket next week, and 5 Series due by mid-year.
The top selling model last month was the Suzuki Swift with 234 units. Mazda3 (197) pushing Commodore to third with 195.
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