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NZ sales bounce back in August

On top: Toyota's run-out HiLux was the biggest-selling vehicle in New Zealand in August, with 340 units.

New Zealand follows Oz with an even bigger new-vehicle sales rebound last month

6 Sep 2011


NEW Zealand’s new-vehicle industry has bounced back strongly from the triple whammy of recession, tsunami-led stock shortages and ongoing earthquake disruption.

August sales hit 7465, up 16 per cent over August 2010 thanks to a strong passenger car market with 5767 registrations - up 22.2 per cent on the same period last year. Light commercials dropped one per cent to 1698.

“This is the best result for August since 2007,” said NZ Motor Industry Association CEO Perry Kerr, who is hopeful that supplies will return to normal by October.

Meanwhile, used imported-vehicle registrations fell 8.9 per cent to 7043.

Toyota retains top spot on NZ’s new-vehicle sales table, with a 16.25 per cent share for August. Ford holds second on 9.99 per cent, with Hyundai close behind at 9.12 per cent and a single car ahead of Holden.

Toyota registered 1213 vehicles in August - up 9.9 per cent on August 2010 – its general manager of sales and operations Steve Prangnell saying: “We are still tight on Corolla hatch and in runout on HiLux. But stock arrival is pretty much back on track.” Mr Prangnell said he expects to catch up some lost sales in the final quarter of this year, on the back of generous incentives.

“We made a loyalty offer to customers whose orders we could not fill. If they delayed purchase we’d extend their warranty from three to five years, and we gave them a three-year service plan, so we have back-orders to fill.

80 center imageLeft: Other big-sellers were the (from top) Mazda3, Suzuki Swift and Nissan Qashqai/Dualis.

“We delayed a lot of big corporate stuff like Avis and Hertz by putting Signature Class [approved used cars] on short-term lease, so you’ll see a big fourth quarter for us.”

Mr Prangnell predicts Toyota will end 2011 with 18,000 sales in a market totalling 86,000 registrations, growing to 90,000 next year.

Second-placed Ford dropped 5.6 per cent (44 vehicles) to 746. Ford national sales manager Mel Rushton said that was due to a substantial reduction in Ranger sales, “down 74 units year-on-year”, partially offset by a strong month for Fiesta, Focus, Territory and Mondeo, though “Falcon and Falcon ute numbers were down, in keeping with the trend we’ve seen in recent months.” Mrs Rushton said the last quarter of this year will be strong for Ford in NZ, with the new Focus and Ranger launching in coming weeks, and Kuga entering the small to medium SUV segment.

Hyundai was the biggest mover of the major players, up 58.7 per cent to 681 after a large shipment arrived in August to fill back-orders. Chief operating officer Tom Ruddenklau said month-to-month Hyundai growth would be “less lumpy” given consistent supply.

However, he said August was “our biggest month ever”, with Elantra sales growth being incremental over last year, and a rental order of about 100 cars for the Rugby World Cup.

Holden sales lifted 17.2 per cent to 680, driven by Captiva, Cruze and Commodore, said the company’s managing director Jeff Murray.

Mazda sales rose 0.3 per cent to 606 – the brand’s best August on record as it anticipates the arrival of the facelifted Mazda3, BT-50 and CX-5.

“We knew 2011 would be hard as we had an ageing product mix,” said national marketing manager Glenn Harris. “The natural disasters added extra complexity to the market. A lot of time this year has been spent treading water and it’s nice to get to this point and know the light at the end of the tunnel is not a train, it’s something to look forward to.”

Nissan sales were up 1.1 per cent to 472, with its best-ever Qashqai (Dualis) month offset by Navara shortages. Suzuki numbers climbed 12.9 per cent to 412, while Mitsubishi fell 2.7 per cent to 367 and Volkswagen lifted 37.1 per cent to 288 sales.

Honda rounded out the top 10 - up 15.9 per cent to 269 sales.

Several small players experienced a big leap in numbers. Land Rover was up 268 per cent (to 92) after registering 61 vehicles for the Rugby World Cup. Mini rose 227 per cent after it introduced its first sub-$30,000 car. And Dodge sales soared 246.9 per cent to 111, having leveraged Kiwi-US exchange rates to sell run-out Caliber and Nitro models at much lower prices. General Manager of importer Sime Darby Automobiles, Grant Smith, says he hopes to profit from increased brand interest when the new sub-$40,000 V6 Dodge Journey arrives in November.

Many distributors reported strong results from Christchurch, despite a central city still closed to access and continued seismic activity. The Christchurch region has experienced over 8000 earthquakes since the 7.1-magnitude jolt on September 4 last year – three over 4.0 on the Richter scale last week alone.

Holden’s Mr Murray said his Christchurch dealer, Blackwells, has “gone from strength to strength despite a parts department working out of shipping crates. It is our second largest dealer in NZ and that wasn’t the case 18 months ago.” Hyundai, Toyota and Mazda are among those reporting stronger than usual sales for the region, often out of temporary premises. Dealer principal for Team Hutchinson Ford, John Hutchinson, says August sales were almost double its target, citing people getting Earthquake Commission cheques, and deciding “they can live with the cracks in the walls a bit longer and they’ll change their car.” Mr Hutchinson said the initial post-earthquake run on light commercials has swung back to passenger cars.

The most popular vehicle for August, Toyota’s HiLux (340 sales), was followed by Mazda3 (271) and Suzuki Swift (221).

NZ top 10 makesAugust 2011:

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