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NZ Sales: Kiwi market ends long record run

Leading hands: New Zealand new-vehicle sales have doubled over the past decade, with Toyota the dominant force but Ford’s Aussie-developed Ranger standing as top-selling model since 2015.

New Zealand new-car sales fall 4.3 per cent in 2019 after decade of annual growth

7 Jan 2020

NEW Zealand’s automotive industry has posted its first annual sales decline in a decade, with new-vehicle registrations falling 4.3 per cent last year over 2018 after a long period of unprecedented growth.


As December figures held firm on 11,160 sales for the month – up 0.1 per cent (or 10 units) on December 2018 – the overall market ended the year on 154,479 units, just over 7000 units shy of last year’s record 161,519 result.


In a briefing to journalists this week, NZ Motor Industry Association (MIA) chief executive David Crawford said the downturn came in as the peak industry body had predicted at the beginning of last year, when global economic factors prompted the leading vehicle distributors to anticipate a softer market.


“As expected, for 2019 the market was down 4.3 per cent on 2018,” Mr Crawford said.


“It is the first time since 2009, the height of the global financial crisis, that we have seen a year-on-year drop in new-vehicle registrations and comes after five consecutive record years, from 2014 to 2018.”


As it does in Australia with an uncannily similar market share, Toyota continues to dominate the new-vehicle market across the Tasman with more than twice as many sales as its nearest competitor.


The Japanese auto giant posted 30,140 sales in New Zealand last year, marking a 6.6 per cent fall compared to 2018 but still enough for a 19.5 per cent market share.


In contrast to the performance of the leading car-makers in Australia, where only Kia recorded a positive result last year, four of the top 10 brands nonetheless recorded annual growth in New Zealand.


At the pointy end, Mitsubishi climbed 4.1 per cent to 12,822 units, helped along by strong sales of Triton (5319) and proving to be enough to leapfrog Holden and elevate the triple-diamond brand to a podium position.


It now stands as a threat in the year ahead to second-placed Ford, which fell 9.7 per cent and finished 2019 on 14,776 sales.


The Blue Oval brand did still manage to maintain the Ranger’s status as ‘New Zealand’s Most Wanted’ with 9485 sales for the year – 64 per cent of Ford’s total volume – although Toyota had HiLux (7126), Corolla (6804) and RAV4 (5611) holding down the next three positions.


Toyota also had the top four best-selling rental cars – a key factor in New Zealand’s tourism-rich economy – in Corolla (3990), RAV4 (1963), Camry (809) and Yaris (751).


Holden’s shocking downturn in Australia did not run nearly as deep in NZ, where the lion brand’s sales dropped 7.8 per cent to 12,026 units, placing it fourth ahead of Mazda on 10,998 (-10.1%).


Nissan, Hyundai and Kia all managed positive results for the full year that enabled them to hold their respective position as the overall market softened. All three brands were tightly placed, with Nissan recording 8676 sales (+4.4%), Hyundai 8347 (+3.1%) and Kia 7064 (+2.6%).


Rounding out the top 10 brands were Suzuki in ninth (6438, -1.2%) and Volkswagen clinging onto 10th (4966, -16.0%), the latter steering clear of Honda by only 30 units.


Among the luxury brands, Mercedes-Benz was well out in front with 3556 new registrations (including light-commercial vehicles), with BMW next best on 1704.


Reviewing the year, Mr Crawford noted changing purchasing patterns, with the market dominated early on by pick-up sales but “as the last quarter unfolded, it is clear the sales of utes is declining compared to the start of the year and for 2018”.


He also highlighted the Tesla Model 3’s entry to the market in September that placed it in the top three among all passenger cars (and seventh overall) for the month – a significant achievement for a full-electric vehicle – and strong uptake of the Toyota RAV4 hybrid, which arrived in March and quickly became New Zealand’s most popular hybrid vehicle.


NZ top 10 selling brands 2019

Ranking Brand Sales Share% 
1 Toyota 30,140 19.5
2 Ford 14,776 9.6
3 Mitsubishi 12,822 8.3
4 Holden 12,026 7.8
5 Mazda 10,998 7.1
6 Nissan 8676 5.6
7 Hyundai 8347 5.4
8 Kia 7064 4.6
9 Honda 43,868 4.1
10 Holden 43,176 4.1

NZ top 10 selling models 2019

Ranking Make/Model Sales
1 Ford Ranger 9485
2 Toyota HiLux 7126
3 Toyota Corolla 6804
4 Toyota RAV4 5611
5 Mitsubishi Triton 5319
6 Holden Colorado 4747
7 Mazda CX-5 3312
8 Nissan Navara 3305
9 Kia Sportage 3273
10 Suzuki Swift 2877

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