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NZ sales: July marks record new vehicle sales

Corolling on: Toyota’s Corolla (left) was the best-selling passenger car in New Zealand last month on 428 sales, but Ford’s Ranger light-commercial ute was the overall sales winner.

Light-commercials up 23 per cent during bumper July in New Zealand’s new-car market

NZ sales logo15 Aug 2014

By JACQUI MADELIN

NEW ZEALAND new-vehicle distributors continue popping month-end champagne corks, with July motor vehicle sales the strongest for 29 years.

Motor Industry Association chief executive officer David Crawford said both passenger and commercial sales were up in July, but it was the light-commercial segment that experienced the biggest jump.

“July sales of 10,313 new passenger and commercial vehicles is up 10 per cent on July 2013 and 13 per cent year to date (8,594 units) on this time last year,” he said.

“Registrations of 3,242 new commercial vehicles for the month of July reflects continued strong demand, being the strongest July sales since the MIA began collecting records for commercial vehicles in 1981.”

New passenger vehicle sales were up 4.5 per cent to 7071, and new commercials were up 23 per cent, to 3242.

Of those sales, 27.7 per cent, or 2863, were SUVs and 22.7 per cent, or 2346, were utilities. The small segment made up 15.8 per cent of sales, light cars took 13.4 per cent, and medium and large just 5.1 and 4.3 per cent respectively.

New Zealand’s top model last month was Ford’s Ranger ute with 537 sales, followed by the Toyota Corolla on 428 – 135 of which were rentals, Toyota Hilux (411), Nissan Navara (332) and Holden Colorado (320), meaning four out of the top five vehicles were utesHolden’s Commodore (304, of which 89 were rentals) and Honda’s Jazz (302) sat behind them in sixth and seventh place respectively, nearly 100 vehicles above the next-best sellers.

Toyota again led the market, although it dipped 2.2 per cent to 1655 sales for a 16.1 per cent share, with the margin to second place suggesting its quarter-century of domination may soon be under threat.

Ford and Holden are snapping at its heels, with the Blue Oval up 15.1 per cent to 1210 registrations for July, while Holden was up 6.3 per cent to 1157.

Holden New Zealand managing director Jeff Murray said he has reset his calendar outlook for a 127,000 total market haul by the end of the year.

“Annualise from July and it’s 128,000 units, so surpassing levels back to 1984,” he said.

Highlights include the Commodore large car, up 30 per cent this month, and Colorado ute, with volume up by 54 per cent for 110 units on the back of Fieldays marketing, and the Trax crossover, which entered a new bracket for Holden.

Japanese car-maker Mazda’s sales rose by 6.6 per cent to 727 units, while Nissan sold 101 more cars than in July 2013, rising 16.7 per cent to 705.

Hyundai dropped 1.5 per cent to 588, its SUV strengths offset by its abstinence from the ute market, while Mitsubishi rose 16.5 per cent to 593 sales.

Honda was the big mover in the top 10, reaching 421 sales – a healthy 82.3 per cent rise after years of declining numbers.

Honda NZ national sales and marketing manager Nadine Bell said the recently-launched third-generation Honda Jazz was the key to the company’s sales increase.

“Jazz is exceeding our expectations. Seventy per cent of Honda’s sales for July were Jazz, well above the targeted sales we were aiming for, and with early adoption by competitor customers.”

Ms Bell said Honda does not anticipate supply problems for Jazz, and the Japanese brand is not expecteing sales to be impacted by September’s general election.

“We banked on reaching a new audience so had placed large orders for early stock, so we’re in a strong position. We’ve signed over 550 retail agreements since launch, and not all those are delivered yet, so we’re expecting strong numbers for the next few months at least.

“We have cars already signed up to deliver in September,” though distributors GoAuto has spoken to mostly expect little impact from what is predicted to be an uncontentious election.

Rounding out the top 10 was Suzuki, down 2.6 per cent in July to 405, and Volkswagen, down 0.5 per cent to 399.

At the premium end of the market, smaller European brands are doing well, with percentages admittedly exaggerated by the modest numbers but nevertheless suggesting a continued trend.

At just above the mass market, Alfa Romeo was up 66.7 per cent, Fiat rose 118 per cent, Jaguar doubled sales in July 2014 compared with July 2013, sister company Land Rover was up 83 per cent and Volvo lifted by a staggering 155 per cent, to 46 units for the month.

Volvo NZ general manager Steve Kenchington said he has made significant investment in raising the profile of the brand, without the benefit of launching a new model this year.

“You always have to have a strong foundation to get on shopping lists, and that’s always been my Achilles heel. We said in November, December last year that we needed to do 400 this year, a 70 per cent increase over 2013. And 400 lays the foundations for dealer development and new models.”

Mr Kenchington said he, and other niche players above the mass market but below the big three Germans – Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi – benefit from a confident business environment, as not many brands compete for those making the step-up but not yet able to afford a similar BMW or Audi.

As for the luxe brands, Porsche and Maserati stand out, up 66.7 per cent to 20 sales in July, and up 500 per cent to six sales respectively.

Maserati Australia and New Zealand general manager Glen Sealey cites the Ghibli introduction and a new dealership in Auckland with a single focus on Maserati for its 412 per cent YTD increase, and Porsche in part to the Macan’s arrival, though general manager Greg Clarke, like Mr Kenchington, said confidence in the economy underpins a steady rise in sales.

NZ Top 10 brands July 2014
RankBrandSales% Share
1Toyota165516.1
2Ford121011.7
3Holden115711.2
4Mazda7277.0
5Nissan7056.8
6Hyundai5885.9
7Mitsubishi5935.7
8Honda4214.0
9Suzuki4053.9
10Volkswagen3993.8

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