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NZ Sales: Fresh sales records set in October

For rent: Toyota's refreshed Yaris was the fourth best-selling vehicle in New Zealand last month on 438 sale, of which 311 were rental purchases.

Toyota sets all-time monthly high in yet another record month for NZ sales

6 Nov 2014


NEW Zealand is on track to hit its highest-ever annual new-car sales figure following yet another record month, according to official sales figures released this week.

Motor Industry Association (MIA) chief executive officer David Crawford told GoAuto that New Zealand recorded 12,023 new vehicle registrations last month, representing the strongest October since the MIA started collecting records in 1975.

“The previous strongest October was back in 1984 with 10,724 registrations,” he said.

The October tally brings the 2014 year-to-date total to 106,582 units, and helps close the gap on the previous record haul which was set in 1984 when 123,247 vehicles were sold.

Last month's overall total is a 12.4 per cent increase over October 2013, with the 8910 passenger-car tally up 11.9 per cent, or 948 units, over the same month last year, while the commercial total of 3113 is up 13.8 per cent, or 379 units.

Toyota set a sales record for a single month when it hit 3102 units in October, the highest figure ever reached by a single franchise.

Toyota NZ chief executive Alistair Davis told GoAuto that the Japanese car-maker had previously achieved a result of just over 2900 in 2008, while Ford also managed a similar number in 1983.

The 3102 total for Toyota was up 16.4 per cent for a 25.8 per cent market share, a result Mr Davis said he expected.

“We always have good Octobers, with rental cars and fleet, and it’s always a good month for Corolla with a bunch of fleets turning over at that time, so the result was not unexpected, though marginally short of target,” he said.

As for 2015, Mr Davis said it is unlikely to match the rapid growth seen this year.

“We won’t see the same meteoric rise of growth next year but I don’t expect it to go backwards, we still have a buoyant economy, though maybe less buoyant next year with the dairy price effect.”

Mr Davis said the underpinning issue for New Zealand is the country's old fleet.

“The most common vehicle is now around 18 years old, and those cars are getting harder to keep on the road, so there’s underlying pressure as owners move up to slightly newer cars.

“Combine that with the relatively high NZ dollar, which has slipped a bit against the US but not the yen, so cars are reasonably cheap, and that should keep demand going for both imports and new vehicles.”

Ford NZ managing director Corey Holter said the Blue Oval's sales result of 1358 units – a drop of 0.6 per cent, or eight units – was not unexpected given the Falcon and Mondeo are in runout with new versions due soon.

“We plan to hit the ground running next year. We expect 2015 to be relatively flat which is still a positive for the industry.”

Holden landed in third, up 1.1 per cent to 1218 units, followed by Hyundai which was up 18.7 per cent to 725, the same tally as reached by Mazda, which grew 22.1 per cent for the month.

Mitsubishi sold 558 vehicles, a rise of 6.9 per cent, with Nissan up 21.6 per cent to 478, but Nissan NZ managing director John Manley told GoAuto the company could have fared even better if it had the stock.

“If we could get some Qashqai, X-Trail and Navara we’d be happier,” he said.

“We are struggling to get supply, we order six months in advance but the market is ahead of forecast. Everyone felt this rate of growth wasn’t sustainable, but my goodness me it is.”

Mr Manley expects continued growth, with the rate dropping back to three or four per cent for 2015.

“But that’s what we called last year, and we got it wrong, which says a lot about the economy.”

Volkswagen was one of few brands to take a sales cut, down 3.4 per cent to 430, with the company's NZ general manager Tom Ruddenklau also reporting a stock shortage.

“We’ve struggled with supply, especially with Golf, Touareg and Amarok which has caused the flywheel to slow, however, our arrivals for the next four or five months are as good as they’ve ever been,” he said.

Touareg is on runout with a facelift due shortly, and Amarok ran out mid-year, after a stronger-than-anticipated first quarter.

One challenge Mr Ruddenklau said he faces is communicating today’s lower entry-level prices, and tackling issues relating to reliability.

“People still have a fear of ownership from a service and parts perspective, so we have an aggressive comms message planned to tackle that head-on,” he said.

“We have to keep hammering away at the price-point message, it just takes time and money.”

Suzuki had a great month with the Swift, selling 66 units more than the same preoid last year, which accounted for the brand’s 20.6 per cent increase in sales to 386.

National sales manager Gary Collins said that was largely private sales with just 20 rentals registered, with the Swift benefitted from an ad campaign focusing on entry-level variants with special pricing, but he added that there was another factor.

“The fact the model has kept its current shape over time means used-import Swift has appeal, and that has to have some effect as the top-end imports are close to new pricing, which we try to counter by offering a good value proposition on the new cars,” he said.

Honda rounded out the top 10, up 14 per cent to 317.

The top-selling model for the month by some margin was Toyota’s Corolla, with 1257 sold, well ahead of second-placed Ford Ranger, which again topped the ute market, its 627 tally marking 20 per cent of the commercial tally for the month.

Toyota HiLux followed on 514, then the facelifted Toyota Yaris with 438 (of which 311 were rentals), the Holden Commodore in fifth (294) and Suzuki Swift in sixth spot (266).

The Toyota RAV4 managed 263, Holden's Cruze and Toyota's Highlander both grabbed 243 apiece, and the Holden Colorado rounded out the top 10 on 235, two units ahead of Mazda3.

NZ Top 10 makes October 2014
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