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NZ car market taps the brake

Top of the heap: Toyota’s HiLux is New Zealand’s top-selling vehicle, with stablemate Corolla second.

September vehicle sales ease off the throttle with a mere 13.9 per cent growth

5 Oct 2012

NEW Zealand’s new-vehicle sales growth eased last month, but September volumes still reached 8690 units – up 13.9 per cent on the same period last year.

That’s below the year-to-date growth rate of 17.7 per cent for the first three quarters of 2012, but well above industry forecasts back in January when sales were predicted to rise only five per cent.

So far, NZ car new-car distributors have sold 75,075 vehicles, even though private buyers have been slow to return to showrooms.

Most car companies expect the market to crack the 100,000 mark, or at least come close.

Motor Industry Association CEO Perry Kerr said the new-vehicle market was continuing to perform beyond expectations.

"To date numbers are the best we have seen for some years," he said.

Mr Kerr said that if the year-end tally hit 97,000, it would have returned to pre-GFC 2007 levels.

Used import sales are down 4.3 per cent so far this year, to 59,677.

Year to date, Toyota HiLux is New Zealand’s top model, with 3178 sales, followed by Toyota Corolla (2891), Suzuki Swift (2523), Ford Ranger (2302) and Nissan Navara (1953).

Toyota’s year-to-date tally of 14,703 units represents a 24.3 per cent rise year on year for 19.58 per cent market share.

Toyota general manager sales and operations Steve Prangnell expects the market to end the year on 101,000 units, with Toyota share at 21.2 per cent.

80 center imageFrom top: Toyota Corolla Suzuki Swift Ford Ranger Nissan Navara.

“Rental deliveries are coming into play and our market share will lift accordingly, as will others,” he said.

“Our retail sales are solid and year to date we are number one in private, fleet, government and rental, so a strong performance as we head towards a 25th year of market leadership.”

Ford sits second, up 31 per cent with 8405 registrations for 11.2 per cent share, followed by Holden, up 20.8 per cent to 7099 for 9.46 per cent share.

Holden NZ managing director Jeff Murray said strong Barina sales, the introduction of Cruze hatch and “competitive offers” on Captiva contributed to this result.

He said he expected continued growth with better availability for newly-launched Colorado.

“From a market perspective, the majority of the volume manufacturers are calling around the 100,000 mark for 2012,” he said.

“Despite the market in September being 13.9 per cent up on last year, from an annualised perspective the market did only run around the 94,000 mark, the softest it’s been since March this year.” Hyundai sales rose 15.4 per cent to 5958, and 7.94 per cent share, with general manager Andy Sinclair saying: “YTD very happy, sitting in fourth and that is after the strikes in Korea.” Mazda sales are up 26.9 per cent to 5824. National marketing manager Glenn Harris described September as “a month of lost opportunities”, with CX-5 production allocation unable to keep up with demand.

“In real terms we’ve sold seven months from only five months of production,” he said.

Mr Harris expects supply to improve in coming months, while new models will replace ageing vehicles.

We’re calling a new vehicle industry of no less than 97,500 by year end, dropping back to 95,000 in 2013,” he said.

Mr Harris said 2012 might end higher, “but the rate of growth is coming back to a more measured level”.

As for 2013, there were “some fundamentals this year that won’t recur in the next 12 months – such as fleet replacement with ‘stretched’ lease terms that were applied following the GFC”.

Nissan numbers rose 15.7 per cent to 4808, and managing director John Manley said the market continued to confound with a level of growth in advance of expectation within the general NZ economy “which is very modest, if not actually flatlining”.

Mr Manley said the marked could close the year close to 100,000, “which would be extraordinary and right back to pre-GFC levels”.

“Fantastic news for the industry and very positive for the NZ economy in general, as motor vehicle sales are generally a true barometer of domestic economic performance.”

Suzuki numbers rose 7.3 per cent to 4170 last month, and marketing general manager Tom Peck said a good start to the year was followed by a challenging July and August, “where it seemed private buyers who make the bulk of our purchasers had left the market”.

However, September was Suzuki’s strongest retail month on record if the SJ413-based 4WD farm vehicle – which is not able to be road registered – was counted.

Mr Peck said he expected the market to end the year at about 95,000 vehicles.

“There are some significant launches like new Corolla to stimulate the market,” he said.

Volkswagen sales lifted 3.6 per cent, to 2916, with Kia to up 25.5 per cent, to 2333.

Kia general manager Todd McDonald said Kia NZ was positioned to achieve a sales record if the growth trend continued.

He said he expected the last quarter to be “highly competitive, as the quantity of new unregistered stock available in the market is very high”.

Honda rounds out the top 10, up 5.3 per cent, to 2299.

HNZ marketing head Graeme Meyer said Honda was out of stock on some models, with many customers waiting cars.

Top 10 NZ brands September 2012:
RankMakeSales% Share

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