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NZ sales: Commercials drive growth across the Tasman

Still strong: The Toyota HiLux lost out to the Ford Ranger in April, but was still New Zealand’s second most popular new vehicle for the month.

Strong sales gains for the New Zealand market, with Ford Ranger top dog

General News logo9 May 2013


NEW Zealand again rode on the back of strong commercial vehicle sales to post solid overall new-vehicle market growth in April The total-market April tally of 8142 new vehicle deliveries was 15.5 per cent higher than the same month last year. Of this, 2235 registrations were of commercial vehicles – the highest figure since 1982.

These strong commercial figures – many of which were sold in Auckland and a re-building Christchurch – were 41 per cent higher than over this period in 2012.

Motor Industry Association CEO David Crawford said the strong upward trend had commercials selling at at “levels last seen in the mid 1980’s.” For the market as a whole, Toyota remains well ahead of the pack, up 22.6 per cent to 1477 registrations, for 18.1 per cent market share.

General manager sales and operations, Steve Prangnell, said the company’s annualised numbers are now ahead of his 24,000 target despite not having the right model mix to meet current Corolla requirements.

He noted strong commercial demand boosting sales, telling us that “now the Christchurch rebuild is seriously underway, our South Island dealers are very strong and we’re supplying a few large fleets working down there.”

Meanwhile, he’s managing the final rollout for Daihatsu, which is about to depart the new-car market. Its April sales were up 466.7 per cent – to 51, off a low base of nine for April 2012.

“Fire sale is a bit of a strong word but we’ve put an aggressive dealer incentive in place to shift remaining stock. We’ve committed to finish retailing everything on the ground by the end of this year,” he said.

Ford finished second, with 994 sales – up 20.5 per cent. Managing director Neale Hill cited a shortage of Ranger ute supply in April 2012 as a key factor in this improvement.

“We’ve been running a six month order book and struggling to catch up but supply is now coming through to fill outstanding orders,” he said.

The new-generation Kuga compact SUV launched mid-April too, with 77 incremental sales in two weeks.

Holden sales rose 31.2 per cent to 748 units. Managing director Jeff Murray said Cruze numbers increased by 80 units year on year with a refreshed model joined by a new variant, the wagon.

Last year it had no Colorado stock, and sold 147 units this April while other car lines remained flat.

Mr Murray expects Colorado to continue to lift sales against last year until it hits a full 12 months mid-year, but expects brand sales to remain strong with the arrival of the new VF Commodore, Malibu and Trax.

However, Mr Murray told GoAuto he does not understand why the commercial market overall is so buoyant. “Normally it holds off for National Agricultural Fieldays offers,” he said.

Mr Murray said Christchurch commercial sales were up around 500 units, and much of that comes on the back of the rebuild – so it’s new demand, not replacement stock.

He has moved Holden’s annual overall market forecast up to six per cent, and 106,000 units, for the year in total, “which doubles the rate of growth from an economic point of view, the second year in a row the auto industry is outgrowing growth in the economy with no indication the market will slow between now and year end”.

Hyundai dropped 3.1 per cent in April to 564 units, 30 sales ahead of Mazda, which dropped 0.6 per cent to 534 units.

Nissan sales rose 1.7 per cent to 468 units, followed by Suzuki, up 6.4 per cent to 448 and Mitsubishi, up 3.5 per cent to 384.

Mitsubishi’s head of sales and marketing strategy Daniel Cook said he could not identify a reason for strong commercial growth, given the national drought has been tough on the farming community.

“We expected that to slow sales in the commercial sector but it’s been bullish. Fieldays interest kicks off mid-May, and May and June results will be very telling,” he said.

“The market normally spikes in May and June and perhaps it’s peaked a bit early. But the truck market is strong and has been for some months, and it’s normally a good indicator for the car market.”

Volkswagen continues to tally strong results, with April sales up 28.4 per cent over the same month last year to 339, with Honda rounding out the top 10, dropping 12.9 per cent to 271 – 28 sales ahead of Kia.

Ford’s Ranger was top-selling vehicle for April on 416 units, followed by the Toyota Hilux, Suzuki Swift, Toyota Corolla and Nissan Navara.

NZ Top 10 makes April 2013

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