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Rugby tackles NZ car sales in September

Number one: Toyota’s HiLux is the top-selling car in New Zealand for the year-to-date, with 3129 units.

World cup takes shine off New Zealand car sales, but it is not all black

General News logo7 Oct 2011

By JACQUI MADELIN in New Zealand

NEW Zealand new-vehicle sales ended the third quarter up 6.6 per cent year to date, at 63,810 vehicles, despite a September drop of four per cent to 7628, partly blamed on the Rugby World Cup.

Motor Industry Association CEO Perry Kerr said rugby-impacted September sales capped off a bumpy ride for the NZ industry so far this year.

“There is some catch-up in the market, so hopefully sales will remain positive for the last quarter of the year,” he said.

Year-to-date passenger car sales rose four per cent, commercial vehicle volumes rose 16.5 per cent, while used vehicle imports slid 8.4 per cent.

Toyota have dominated new vehicle registrations with 11,826 sales to the end of September, down 4.5 per cent, for 18.5 per cent share.

Toyota CEO Alistair Davis said he was confident TNZ would end the year better than expected.

“Our initial estimate of tsunami impact was we’d have dropped $300 million of revenue, but we will have lost less than $100 million by year-end, and by the end of the fiscal year we may be close to where we would have been,” he said.

80 center imageFromt top: Suzuki Swift, Ford Kuga, Mitsubishi ASX, Honda Insight.

Mr Davis said last year’s stronger result reflected buyer relief the recession was apparently over, with a softer market this year due partly to a realisation it isn’t.

“Those still buying are in growth sectors or infrastructure, which will be a growth economy for another five years,” he said.

Ford sits second at 6417 sales, down 6.7 per cent at 10 per cent share. Incoming managing director Neale Hill said the brand had been impacted by a faster-than-expected run-out of Ranger and Focus, with new versions now on sale.

He said he plans to offset a decline in the Falcon bracket with growing share in smaller cars, assisted by the arrival of Kuga in November.

Mr Hill said he did not expect New Zealand’s lowered credit rating to impact vehicle sales.

“We’ve been living under the threat of a global downturn on an on-going basis, and we’ve become fairly steeled to it,” he said.

“A significant move – especially in Europe – will get people to hold back on purchases, but we’ll be cushioned by Australia and Asia, and don’t expect a significant negative impact on New Zealand at this point.” Holden is running third on 5879 sales, up 1.3 per cent year to date, followed by Hyundai with 5163, up 25.2 per cent.

Hyundai chief operating officer Tom Ruddenklau cites a strong model line-up and a good mix of business and private, government and rental sales, “and we’re into our sixth year of leading the charge with diesel,” which made up 40 per cent of Hyundai sales.

Mazda fell 5.1 per cent to 4588 sales for fifth place, while Nissan rose 1.7 per cent to 4155. Suzuki climbed 11.5 per cent to 3886, thanks to strong sales of Swift and a good first month for Splash.

Suzuki marketing general manager Tom Peck said: “Every car (Splash) in the country has retailed, and it’ll be second in supermini sales for September behind Swift.” Mr Peck agreed that the rugby had impacted sales, and the November election would have a similar effect.

Mitsubishi sales are up 12.1 per cent to 3795 for eighth place, despite also reporting a rugby-driven slowdown.

Sales and marketing strategy head Daniel Cook said Mitsubishi’s Diamond Advantage warranty had been a sales catalyst, and ASX has snared incremental sales.

Volkswagen’s tally rose 55.1 per cent to 2814 and Honda rounded out the top 10, up 15.6 per cent to 2184.

Honda managing director Graeme Seymour said the private market was down 27 per cent on 2008 levels, “and that was the year Lehman Brothers fell over”.

He said Honda’s turnaround came via Jazz and Insight, with the latter now attracting corporates.

“Previously, when you bought a high-tech car you had to make a dollar commitment and it never really paid for itself in a normal ownership life-cycle, but Insight does achieve that,” he said.

“The rising price of fuel means the equation has changed and it will go on changing.” Mr Seymour also reports the rugby effect: “Dealers say customers are out buying flags, not cars.” Meanwhile, post-tsunami supplies are returning to normal. Toyota’s HiLux is the top-seller year-to-date on 3129, followed by Corolla at 2456 and Suzuki Swift on 2398.

Meanwhile, major used-vehicle importer Toyota has stocked up on Japanese vehicles ahead of changes to the NZ Vehicle Emissions Rule in January.

Mr Davis said he had anticipated a push by used importers to buy ahead of changes to the Vehicle Exhaust Emissions Rule that take effect in January.

“TNZ sent two buyers to Japan for almost the whole year to buy ahead and our purchasing rate is up significantly, but most of the New Zealand market has not done that,” he said.

New Zealand sales September 2011:
Brand Sales
Toyota 1523 20.0
Holden 755 9.9
Ford 616 8.1
Mazda 586 7.7
Hyundai 550 7.2
Mitsubishi 519 6.8
Nissan 406 5.3
Volkswagen 400 5.2
Suzuki 375 4.9
Honda 244 3.2

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