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NZ Sales: April hits new high

The comeback: The Toyota HiLux grabbed back the crown as New Zealand's best-selling ute after being knocked off the podium by the Ford Ranger in recent months.

Healthy regional economies and strong net immigration drive new-vehicle sales in NZ

4 May 2016


NEW Zealand's 9939 new-vehicle registrations last month are the highest since April 1992, with sales up seven per cent, or 649 units, compared with the same month in 2015.

Motor Industry Association chief executive officer David Crawford said that healthy regional economies in Auckland and Christchurch combined with strong net immigration and competitive pricing were helping drive sales.

“There were 6789 passenger vehicle registrations and 3,150 commercial vehicle registrations, which were once again the highest month of April on record for commercial vehicle registrations,” he said.

Light-commercial vehicles led the model table for April, with Toyota logging 535 HiLux sales to creep ahead of the Ford Ranger (507) that has led the HiLux in recent months, as well as the Nissan Navara (327).

Then came Kia’s Sportage (290), the Holden Colorado (229), Mazda CX-5 (224), Toyota HiAce (223) and Toyota RAV4 (204).

The Toyota Corolla was the first passenger car in the top 10, pushed to ninth with 195 sales, while Hyundai’s Tucson SUV rounded out the top 10 model table on 194.

Tucson sales were boosted by 52 rentals, but April is a low month for rental purchases and few top models attracted much interest from rental-car companies last month.

However, SUVs continued to grow, grabbing 36 per cent of registrations, followed by utes on 22 per cent.

Toyota led both the passenger and commercial brackets to be the overall market leader, its tally of 1516 units marking a rise of 7.2 per cent.

Ford registrations rose 18.7 per cent to 1276, and the company's general marketing manager Cameron Thomas said that the fresh model line-up has struck a chord with buyers.

“The whole line-up is really starting to hum for us,” he said. “Mustang yes, but Focus and Mondeo too, and we had a really great month with Kuga.” Mr Thomas said the market is buoyant, but he put Ford’s performance down to the launch of an updated retail platform in 2015, and an updated digital strategy, which dealers are then converting to sales.

This was also helped by strong interest in Mustang, with higher initial uptake than forecast and a waiting list out to November, and optimism about the market in 2016, according to Mr Thomas.

“There’s a lot of talk about how China might affect our economy, but we have increased our year-end forecast to 134,000 and feel the market will remain buoyant.” GM Holden sales sank 1.2 per cent to 829, while Mazda was up 17.3 per cent to 800 registrations, with 224 of those sales from the CX-5 – New Zealand’s second-best-selling SUV for the month – and 135 for the CX-3.

Last month was the best April on record for Mazda, and its 35th consecutive month of year-on-year growth.

Nissan sales rose 9.5 per cent to 772, and Mitsubishi’s lifted 16.4 per cent to 619.

Mitsubishi NZ head of sales and marketing strategy Daniel Cook said 130 sales of the facelifted Mirage helped the company's tally.

Mr Cook said the New Zealand economy was in good condition, and added that the company was expecting further growth this year.

“Interest rates are low, the ute market is buoyant, there’s a boom in residential building, and agriculture outside dairy is pretty buoyant as well.

“We have forward orders right through to the end of the calendar year.” Hyundai sales fell 6.9 per cent to 592, thanks in part to erratic delivery of Tucson from the Czech Republic, but nevertheless its dealers were celebrating thanks to rally driver Hayden Paddon’s win at the Argentina round of the World Rally Championship – the first WRC round win for a New Zealander, and logged in a Hyundai.

Hyundai NZ general manager Andy Sinclair said it has had a huge effect, with a massive upsurge in digital traffic, and expressions of support for the brand.

“But how that translates to numbers in store, and buying, has yet to be seen. Long term, we expect it to increase sales,” he said.

Kia moved up the rankings to eighth after a 52.2 per cent increase in sales to 455, of which 290 registrations were new Sportage.

Sportage was New Zealand’s most popular non-LCV in April, and there is now a waiting list for the model, although the company's general manager Todd McDonald said he does not anticipate difficulties in sourcing stock.

Suzuki and Volkswagen rounded out the top 10, Suzuki sales down 1.3 per cent to 384, while VW’s sunk 10.3 per cent to 347.

There was keen activity just outside the top-10 table, with Mercedes-Benz up 39.7 per cent for 11th place and Subaru up 42.6 per cent, with 221 sales thanks largely to the Outback, which makes up 52 per cent of the brand’s numbers in NZ after 18 months on sale.

As for Honda, usually flirting with the lower reaches of the top 10 – it dropped to 21 for the month after registering just 82 vehicles, with the company's general manager of marketing Nadine Bell citing stock supply and timing issues.

Table Heading
Rank Make Sales % Share
1 Toyota 1516 15.25
2 Ford 1276 12.83
3 Holden 829 8.34
4 Mazda 800 8.04
5 Nissan 772 7.76
6 Mitsubishi 619 6.22
7 Hyundai 592 5.95
8 Kia 455 4.97
9 Suzuki 384 3.86
10 Volkswagen 347 3.49

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