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NZ sales up, despite Thai ute drought

Comeback: New Zealand sales of Toyota's HiLux exceeded forecast in March due to some large shipments.

Passenger cars lift New Zealand new-vehicle sales as utes slowly make a comeback

General News logo9 Apr 2012


NEW Zealand motor vehicle sales grew almost 10 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period last year, despite depressed commercial vehicle sales caused by the ute stock drought after the Thai floods.

The industry shifted 24,394 new vehicles in the first three months of the year – up 2207 on last year – thanks to a 14.6 per cent rise in passenger car numbers.

Motor Industry Association chief executive officer Perry Kerr said the commercial vehicle result in March was almost on a par with the same month last year, but shortages in the first two months meant the three-month year-to-date figure was down 5.8 per cent (291 units).

“This can be directly attributed to the lack of stock of utes – the majority being sourced from Thailand which is still rebuilding after last year’s massive floods,” he said.

Used import numbers fell 7.6 per cent, to 19.652 year to date.

In March last year, NZ was under a state of national emergency after February’s lethal earthquake in Christchurch, with local sales of light commercials and SUVs boosted by earthquake-damaged roads and damage assessment operations.

80 center imageLeft: Toyota Yaris. Below: Hyundai Accent.

Christchurch CBD remains closed behind a red-zone cordon and earthquakes now numbering in their thousands continue to inflict damage and delay the start of rebuilding. Toyota remains NZ’s top-selling brand in the first quarter, with 4659 sales, down 5.6 per cent for a market share of 19.1 per cent.

Toyota general manager sales and operations Steve Prangnell said sales had exceeded forecast in March thanks to two good shipments of Hilux.

“We are still catching up and about 400 short from where we wanted to be, but it’s coming back on stream,” he said.

Hilux, Yaris 1.5 and Highlander were still in short supply despite Thai plants running at maximum capacity, he said.

Ford holds second on 2404, up 15.5 per cent, with managing director Neale Hill citing a small improvement in Ranger supply, with normal delivery expected about May-June to help reduce long order banks.

“We may see slightly inflated numbers as vehicles land and go straight to dealers to fill those back orders,” he said.

Mr Hill said his dealers were seeing some return of private buyers, largely absent since the recession.

“One in five cars sold last month came out of the C-segment, a lot of that on the back of good retail offers and a good portion of those will be retail buyers,” he said.

Mr Hill has lifted his 2012 forecast from 90,000 to 93,500 after a strong start to the year.

Hyundai sits third in passenger tables – by 19 cars from Holden – and overall including light commercials, with 2234 sales up 28.2 per cent.

General manager Andy Sinclair said the increase came via models not available last year, including 70 new Accent sales, a boost from 11 Elantra last year to 105 this quarter and good i40 numbers.

He said he expected the year to continue strong with his two best-sellers due for replacement, new i30 arriving mid year and Santa Fe by years’ end.

Holden sits fourth with 2183 sales, up 8.8 per cent, and Mazda fifth, up 9.1 per cent for 1636.

Nissan sales rose 11.4 per cent to 1549 while Suzuki sales lifted 10.1 per cent to 1486.

Mitsubishi sales climbed 8.7 per cent to 1406, and Volkswagen was up 13.2 per cent to 1009, while Kia rounded out the top ten, with a 41.2 per cent rise to 788 for the quarter.

Toyota and 11th-placed Honda lost sales, mainly because they were most affected by the Thai floods.

Changes this quarter include former Hyundai CEO Tom Ruddenklau moving to Volkswagen from April 1, filling a vacancy left by Dean Sheed who heads to Audi.

Toyota’s Corolla (1288 sales) tops the YTD charts, followed by Suzuki Swift (941), Hyundai i30 (727) and Holden Cruze (658).

Toyota’s HiLux deliveries topped the sales for March as its supplies returned to normal, but it remained fifth year to date, with 620 sales.

NZ Top 10 brands YTD2012:
BrandSales&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Share%
Source: MIA NZ
NZ top 10 brandsMarch 2012
BrandSales&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Share%
Source: MIA NZ

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