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NZ sales: Recovery continues

Chicken run: Toyota sales were down, with Camry in run-out mode ahead of the March 1 launch of the new model (pictured).

Toyota still on top as New Zealand new-vehicle market picks up 12.2 per cent

General News logo6 Mar 2012

By JACQUI MADELIN in New Zealand

NEW ZEALAND’S new-vehicle market continued its recovery from the recession-tsunami-flood triple-whammy in February with sales up 12.2 per cent over the same month last year, to 7185 units.

Passenger-car registrations were up 16 per cent to 4844 while commercial registrations fell 0.5 per cent to 1560.

Used import numbers were down 6.8 per cent to 6287 sales, marking the impact of new regulations mandating imports comply with Japan’s 2005 emissions regulations.

“Light commercial registrations are still being impacted by stock shortages resulting from the Thailand floods of late last year,” said Motor Industry Association CEO Perry Kerr. “We were not expecting supplies to get back to normal for a few moths yet.”

Toyota was again the leading brand, down 7.0 per cent to 1173 sales for a 16.3 per cent share in February.

Toyota NZ sales and operations manager Steve Prangnell said HiLux and Yaris were still in short supply while Camry has been on run-out, with the new model only going on sale on March 1, while Yaris and Corolla are expected to be back in full supply by the end of this month.

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

“I’m hanging out for our stock to improve – at the end of each month we’ve had less than two weeks’ stock on the ground and it’s always the wrong model and wrong colour,” he said.

Mr Prangnell expects full stock by the second quarter, ready to meet an expected boost in fleet activity.

“Business confidence does seem buoyed by what’s happening in our economy and that of our neighbours in Australia and China,” he said.

“With the large number of model releases this year, we hope to entice the private buyer back into our retail channel, with Camry and Prius this month, plus Avensis and Aurion in April.”

Ford took second for the month with 761 sales, an increase of 27.7 per cent over the same month last year.

“We didn’t have a good start in January, with rental sales not up to the level some others had, and results could have been better had we had free supply of commercial vehicles,” said Ford NZ managing director Neale Hill.

“What’s interesting is everyone is seeing an underlying strength in the industry and we could well see a lift in full-year forecasts. I think the growth will exceed expectation.

“It’s hard to put a finger on a particular reason, but there’s been stability in the political arena, some underlying business confidence on the rise, the agricultural sector is doing well and the economy is showing signs of overall confidence.”

Hyundai rose to third on 675 (up 15.8 per cent), relegating Holden to fourth despite a 27.5 per cent rise to 636 sales.

Holden NZ managing director Jeff Murray said the new Barina and the first full month of Cruze hatch boosted results, but the company had run out of Colorado utes.

“We appreciate there will be short-term pain before the next generation arrives and we are confident we can bridge that gap when the new vehicle launches,” he said.

Suzuki took fifth with 505 sales (up 6.8 per cent), just ahead of Mazda with 485 (up 2.8 per cent), Nissan with 453 (up 7.1 per cent), Mitsubishi with 405 (up 4.7 per cent) and Volkswagen with 318 (up 29.3 per cent).

VW is into the third year of a five-year growth plan and benefitted from increased marketing, lower entry-level pricing for the Golf, an expanded dealer network with the 16th outlet launched last week in Queenstown, and new service outlets.

Kia jumped 26.6 per cent to 233 registrations, pushing Honda out of the top 10 after its February sales dropped 33.0 per cent to 181.

BMW was the top luxury marque with 130 sales in February, just five sales more than Audi, where Dean Sheed becomes managing director after 12 years heading up sister brand Volkswagen.

Mr Sheed said Audi had stock issues with Q7 and A1, but expects these inventory issues to be resolved in the next quarter.

“The VW Group grew 15 per cent last year while the global industry grew five per cent, so we’re swimming three times faster than average and have to lift production and component supplies to match,” he said.

He is determined not to give up Audi’s luxury brand crown, “but it’s a market fight and BMW has come out of the gates being aggressive.”

Toyota still leads the NZ market year-to-date followed by Ford and Hyundai, which took number two on the passenger car tables.

Suzuki’s Swift was the top-selling model in February with 332, followed by Corolla on 272 and HiLux on 251.

New Zealand salesFebruary:
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