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NZ sales: Strong growth across the Tasman

Number one: The Toyota Corolla was the top-seller in New Zealand for October, with 846 units delivered.

Vehicle sales in New Zealand on track to return to pre-GFC levels

General News logo7 Nov 2012


UPDATED: 13/11/2012NEW Zealand motor vehicle sales are almost back to where they were prior to the global financial crisis, with the industry closing in on 100,000 new registrations for the year after another outstanding month in October.

Motor Industry Association figures show 84,463 passenger cars and commercial vehicles have been sold so far this year, with 64,285 cars (up 21.2 per cent on last year and now 266 units ahead of the full-year total for 2011) and 20,178 commercial vehicles (up 13.4 per cent).

New car registrations of 7336 units for October represented a 35 per cent increase on the corresponding month last year, while 2052 commercial vehicle sales for the month marked a 28 per cent increase.

The newly launched Toyota Corolla topped the charts with 846 units, followed by the Ford Focus (344), Toyota HiLux (334), Suzuki Swift (299) and Holden Commodore (290).

NZ MIA chief executive Perry Kerr said: “We have now climbed out of the hole and are back on a firm footing and will be very close to, if not breaking, the (full year) 100,000-unit mark for new-vehicle sales, putting us back to the levels we saw prior to the GFC.”

Used imports were up 10.6 per cent in October to 7186, showing signs of recovery from a dip early this year with reports that Japanese government incentives to buy new are releasing more used cars into the market.

Toyota took top spot and is well on track for a record year and a quarter century at the top of the ladder. Its 2447 October sales marked a rise of 35.9 per cent over the corresponding month last year for a 26.1 per cent share.

Toyota New Zealand CEO Alistair Davis said car sales have grown 10 times the rate of economic growth.

80 center imageLeft: The Toyota HiLux, Ford Focus and Suzuki Swift were all popular in October.

“With all CBU (completely built up cars) in NZ, exchange rates are critical. The dollar is stronger against Korea and Europe and weaker against the yen, which impacts sourcing,” he said.

Toyota sales have benefited both from a return to normal supply and the fact 15 model lines are new or have been heavily revised this year. The company joins the majority of industry players expecting growth to level off in 2013, given a projected full recovery from the global financial crisis by year-end.

However, Mr Davis says economic growth could continue, considering the $30 billion rebuild bill after the Christchurch earthquake is said to be bigger relative to the overall economy than last year’s Japanese earthquake and tsunami, “the biggest disaster relative to economy in modern times.” He said $13 billion will be footed by the government, and $17 billion from insurance – which has already increased household premiums nationwide – while the rebuild spend will add one per cent to the GDP per year for the next decade.

Ford sits second on the October sales table, up 67.2 per cent to 1189, with Holden up 32.8 per cent to 910 sales and Hyundai in fourth, down 10.7 per cent to 627 and almost matching 2010 figures.

Hyundai New Zealand general manager Andy Sinclair said supply is still catching up after Korean factory strikes, which will also affect November sales. “The strikes cost 82,000 cars lost in production and our iLoad and iMax vans are especially affected,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nissan sales rose 47.4 per cent to 513 units. Nissan NZ managing director John Manley said rental units were up over last year, there are no supply restrictions that affected the industry at the same point last year, and the whole industry “is still growing at a colossal rate and well ahead of the nation’s economic growth”.

Mr Manley said the effects of the global financial crisis were artificially extended by the subsequent natural disasters and the market is therefore bouncing back to its natural levels.

“Cars generally are a very accurate barometer of what’s happening in the economy, and there’s a lot of growth for private people,” he said. “Combine that with a favourable exchange rate that kept the price of cars quite stable, confidence in the marketplace, and an artificial low over the past two years, and cars are just flying.”

Mazda grew 1.3 per cent to 478 units for sixth and Suzuki lifted 19.3 per cent to 433. Mitsubishi rose 4.5 per cent to 369, and Volkswagen was up 75.4 per cent to 356. Honda rounded out the top 10, up 95.6 per cent to 268 sales.

Honda NZ managing director Graeme Seymour also expects strong November figures, with distributors working harder, in part because companies that are down in regions like Europe are pushing hard in markets that are doing well.

Mr Seymour also said there was a higher proportion of demonstrator sales. “God knows what’s happening to their profits ... (but) prices are sharp as hell in New Zealand now and the private buyer is responding a bit.”

Meanwhile, premium German brands BMW (153), Audi (153) and Mercedes-Benz (150) are all up, thanks to favourable exchange rates against the Euro and resulting competition with more used imports at the top end.

NZ Top 10 Brands in October

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