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NZ sales: Commercial vehicle boom sets record pace

Small win: Toyota’s Corolla took the mantle as NZ’s top-selling model during September.

New Zealand new-car sales continue double-digit growth

NZ sales logo7 Oct 2013

By JACQUI MADELIN in NEW ZEALAND

NEW Zealand’s new-car market has continued to outstrip growth predictions, posting an 11 per cent rise in sales over the first nine months of the year compared with 2012.

Initially expected to grow by only 5 per cent, the NZ market has reached 83,343 sales to the end of September – a big improvement over a market that was originally expected to top out at about five per cent.

The boom, though, was in commercial vehicle sales, which pegged 2799 units – the highest monthly figure since records were first kept in 1981. Sales in the segment were 26 per cent higher than for the first three quarters of 2012.

New Zealand’s top-selling car to end September was Toyota Corolla small car with 3694 sales followed by the Toyota Hilux trade ute (3602), Ford Ranger trade ute (3392), Suzuki Swift (2327) small hatchback and Nissan Navara (2211) trade ute.

The top-performing passenger car segment remained SUVs. They grew to claim 27 per cent of sales, ahead of small passenger cars on 21 per cent and utes on 19.

Motor Industry Association of New Zealand chief executive David Crawford said the healthy NZ market confirmed economists’ opinions that economic confidence was growing.

“Growth is coming from Auckland and Christchurch still, and generally there is strong economic confidence in New Zealand,” Mr Crawford said.

He said demand indicators were looking good, though debt servicing costs were set to rise.

A gauge of that confidence is the luxury car segment, where the top three brands were all trending ahead of the market.

Year-to-date Audi sales rose 23.6 per cent to 1464 sales, BMW is up 22.3 per cent to 1521 and Mercedes-Benz grew by 30.7 per cent to 1467.

Mercedes-Benz New Zealand general manager Ben Giffin said new-generation models had helped boost sales, but traditional models such as the C-,E- and M-Class had also increased in popularity.

BMW’s NZ managing director, Nina Englart, said BMW’s sales growth was also across its range.

Toyota leads the market in the year so far to the end of September, with 16,395 sales for a 19.7 per cent market share, 11.5 per cent up on the same period last year.

Ford sits second with 9089 sales for 10.9 per cent share, up 8.1 per cent.

 center imageFrom top: Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Suzuki Swift and Nissan Navara.

Ford NZ managing director Corey Holter said recent reports indicated New Zealand was entering a growth phase.

“This has certainly helped our industry,” Mr Holter said. “Our dealers have also told us of a marked increase in traffic and enquiries in their showrooms.” Mr Holter said Ford’s strong performance was helped by the introduction of the Kuga compact SUV to the New Zealand market.

Holden sits third, up 18.6 per cent to 8417, for 10.1 per cent share.

The car-maker’s NZ managing director Jeff Murray said Holden’s success was largely driven by the introduction of new product, including the Colorado trade ute, Cruze small wagon, Malibu mid-size sedan and VF Commodore large car.

Mr Murray said new entrants arriving in coming months would help Holden finish the year strongly.

“It is safe to assume that no manufacturer/distributor called the levels of growth experienced in 2013, with the optimism from the private and business sectors certainly driving the market to pre 1985 heights,” he said.

Hyundai is fourth, up a single per cent to 6020 sales despite a good September that placed it second to Toyota for passenger car sales.

General manager Andy Sinclair said Hyundai’s performance was handicapped by the lack of a ute in its line-up, as well as the flow of new vehicles into showrooms.

“Our performance year-to-date has been reflective of Hyundai’s ongoing supply issues, a simple case of global demand outweighing supply,” Mr Sinclair said.

“Our backorders of Santa Fe have now passed three months and October will be particularly tough, with only 341 vehicles arriving, the result of strikes during July and August.”

Unions representing workers took industrial action earlier this year in Korea to try and win a better pay deal that has cost the car-maker tens of millions of dollars in lost sales.

Mazda’s NZ sales rose 12.5 per cent to 5425 to give it fifth position with an increase in sales across its portfolio and good supply – a situation the Japanese brand said had not been the case for some time.

“In simple terms our growth is coming as a result of good performance across all models with a broader footprint that now covers a greater market opportunity (including now having diesel product) than we have ever enjoyed,” national marketing manager Glenn Harris said.

Nissan sold 5026 cars so far this year, up 4.5 per cent for sixth, while Mitsubishi sales lifted 11.4 per cent to 4549.

VW sits eighth with 3920 sales, up 34.4 per cent and Suzuki ninth, down 8.4 per cent to 3819.

Suzuki NZ chief executive Tom Peck said the strong growth in the commercial vehicle sector had made an impact on the Japanese car-maker, given its strength is in the light car market. However, he said other factors were at play.

“There has been very aggressive re-pricing by Euro brands especially VW, Fiat, Peugeot, etcetera,” Mr Peck said.

“This has affected our Swift sales in Auckland where families with a larger Euro car often bought a Swift as their second car but are now buying Euros at the same price,” he said.

“Our biggest drop has simply been the lower level of sales in Christchurch – traditionally our number one sales area.

“It seems the drawn-out rebuild process has stopped people borrowing to buy new cars – our sales are still mostly to private customers – when they don’t have a house or insurance payout yet. We have seen a significant drop in our Christchurch numbers this year.”

Suzuki also said parallel imports – record numbers of late-model used Swift and Alto small cars have flooded into NZ on the back of a weaker Japanese yen – had hurt sales projections.

Buyers were either choosing a new model such as a new Mitsubishi Mirage or a high-specification used Swift, Mr Peck said. He added that Suzuki’s new-model range was not as fresh as some rivals.

Honda rounded out the top 10 brands, up 4.4 per cent to 2400 sales.

The MIA’s Mr Crawford said NZ sales were on track to hit around 110,000 by the end of the year, marking an eight per cent increase over 2012.

“Sales of commercial vehicles are likely to run at about 25 per cent over last year while passenger (including SUV) will run at about five or six per cent,” he said.

NZ Top 10 makes September 2013
RankMakeSales% Share
1Toyota222022.0
2Ford112911.2
3Holden9129.1
4Hyundai7697.6
5Mazda6926.9
6Mitsubishi6716.7
7Volkswagen4524.5
8Nissan4274.2
9Suzuki3413.4
10Kia2352.3

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