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NZ sales up, but no boom in sight

Form guide: Toyota led the NZ market comfortably last month, with sales of Corolla and other passenger cars stronger than commercial vehicles.

New Zealand racks up 10 months in positive territory as sales recovery rolls on

General News logo5 Nov 2010

By JACQUI MADELIN in NEW ZEALAND

NEW Zealand had its 10th consecutive month of increased vehicle sales in October, recording 5866 passenger and 1431 commercial vehicle sales for a total of 7297 – up 5.8 per cent on the same month last year.

The positive result came after sales were expected to soften when the increase in sales tax took effect on October 1, particularly for companies that focus on the private buyer.

Toyota lifted its share for the month despite its 1923 sales marking a drop of 8.7 per cent, and in October it held over a quarter of NZ sales.

Toyota NZ CEO Alistair Davis told GoAuto that commercial sales were softer than passenger vehicles.

“Commercial numbers are indicative of what is really going on in the economy,” he said. “Retail is quite soft generally.

80 center imageLeft: Honda Insight.

Mr Davis said buyers are using tax cuts and income flows from export recovery to address debt, so retailers are struggling.

Overall rental sales are holding up as tourism is strong, having overtaken dairy as New Zealand’s biggest export earner. However, Toyota did not take as big a share of the rental pie as usual last month.

Mr Davis said rental companies were buying across a broader spread of makes this year.

“Everyone was under stress last year and the only one who could sell easily was us, as we had a finance company that was still solvent,” he said, adding that there are more finance options this year.

Overall, Toyota expects growth recovery to level off, with next year’s numbers similar to 2010.

Ford holds second in the sales charts, its 923 October sales marking a 7.8 per cent rise, with Holden third on 785 sales, up 5.5 on October 2009.

Hyundai held fourth for the month, its 632 sales up 55.3 per cent.

Mazda sales rose 11.4 per cent to 519 units, for fifth, with Suzuki up 31.5 per cent at 359, while Mitsubishi’s 332 sales were up 21.6 per cent on last October.

It was a good month for Mercedes, in ninth place at 191 sales, up 75 per cent.

Mercedes-Benz NZ general manager Coby Duggan said: “October was a pretty tough month on the car side, we were pretty disappointed and our overall figure is skewed towards light commercials.

“There was a bigger impact from the GST increase than we expected. We’d have been more concerned if we were the only brand impacted, but it seems reasonably widespread among the competitive set we play in.”

Volkswagen rounded out the top 10 on 185 sales, up 14.2 per cent.

Both sit ahead of Honda, which had another month of falling sales despite the hype created by the arrival of the Insight, and its EnergyWise rally win. Using cheaper 91 RON petrol meant Insight pipped Toyota’s Prius at the post to take the ‘cost to fill’ award.

But Honda relies largely on private buyers – as does Subaru, also down this month, and it is private buyers who brought their buys forward to September to escape the lift in sales tax.

Subaru marketing manager Peter Douglas-Bell said private buyer enquiry levels were starting to pick up, which should be reflected in sales for both brands by year end.

NZ top 10 makesOctober 2010:
RankMakeSales%Share
1Toyota192326.3%
2Ford92312.6%
3Holden78510.7%
4Hyundai6328.6%
5Mazda5197.1%
6Nissan3905.3%
7Suzuki3594.9%
8Mitsubishi3324.5%
9Mercedes-Benz1912.6%
10Volkswagen1852.5%
Source: MIA NZ

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