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NZ sales: Kiwi market makes ‘partial recovery’

MIA calls for restrictions to ease further as NZ car sales down 32 per cent in May

5 Jun 2020

THE New Zealand automotive industry is pushing for a further easing of restrictions in a bid to boost new-vehicle sales that made a “partial recovery” last month after plunging 90 per cent in April when the country was in full lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Figures released by the NZ Motor Industry Association (MIA) this week show that 8313 new vehicles were registered in May compared to 12,259 in the corresponding month last year, marking a 32.2 per cent downturn.


Heavy restrictions were in place for the first two weeks of trading last month under the New Zealand government’s Alert Level 3 strategy – one rung down from the full lockdown in place throughout most of April – but switched to Alert Level 2 on May 14 which kept social distancing and hygiene measures in place but removed limits on the number of customers allowed in retail premises, including car showrooms.


This impacted positively on vehicle sales, but MIA chief executive David Crawford said this week that the car industry was still struggling and in need of government assistance to reduce economic loss.


“The month of May reopened for business albeit in a constrained manner. It was a challenging month operating under Alert Level 2 and an economically depressed environment,” he said. 


“The MIA shares the views of many that with no new COVID-19 cases for the last 11 days and no known community spread for at least two months, we should be looking to move to Alert Level 1 sooner rather than later.


“The country is better prepared now to manage the odd case of COVID-19 should it arise. Our health system has improved significantly in terms of testing capability, contact tracing and hospital intensive care capacity. 


“It is time to get our economy moving forward while maintaining our health gains.”


A combined 5401 passenger car and SUV sales in New Zealand last month represented a 29.2 per cent downturn on May last year, while 2912 commercial vehicle registrations signified a deeper 37.2 per cent decline.


Again, Toyota and Kia were the major talking points in terms of sales performance last month.


The Japanese auto giant dominated proceedings with 1611 sales for the month and a 19.4 per cent market share, with its volume decline limited to 14.9 per cent – well below the industry average and most of the other leading brands, with the notable exception of Kia. 


As GoAuto has reported, the South Korean brand emerged as the surprising market leader during April, albeit with just 169 sales, which had everything to do with contact-free deliveries of its new Seltos small SUV in the last few days when lockdown measures were lifted. 


Strong demand continued in May for the Seltos, which finished seventh on the table of top-selling models with 205 registrations, pushing Kia up to sixth place overall with 522 sales – a 14.7 per cent improvement on the corresponding month last year. 


Toyota’s return to its accustomed number-one position was helped by RAV4 (533) as the nation’s top-selling model last month, and HiLux (440) as third best, but Kia’s rise as a force to be reckoned with remains a factor in New Zealand just as it does in Australia. 


Holden, on the other hand, might have finished second in the Kiwi market last month with 760 sales (-24.1%), but the position reflects deliveries of ever-dwindling supplies as the Australian lion brand prepares to leave the marketplace forever once remaining stocks are depleted.


Ford finished third after suffering a 47.5 per cent hit last month, to 702 units, the vast majority of which being examples of the Ranger ute which was second on the list of New Zealand’s Most Wanted with 498 sales. 


Most other leading brands experienced a similarly serious decline last month, with Mitsubishi in fourth on 636 sales (-35.6%), Mazda fifth on 530 (-41.9%) and Suzuki in sixth limiting the damage to just -3.2 per cent with 522 registrations. 


Quite a long way further back were Hyundai (323, -59.7%), Nissan 274 (-61.3%) and Volkswagen (263, -41.8%), while outside the top 10 were Honda (234, -42.5%), Subaru (176, -42.3%) and the leading German premium brands Mercedes-Benz (159, -44.6%), BMW (112, -19.4%) and Audi (107, -14.4%).


Top 10 Brands May 2020

Ranking Brand Sales Share %
1 Toyota 1611 19.4
2 Holden 760 9.1
3 Ford 702 8.4
4 Mitsubishi 636 7.6
5 Mazda 530 6.4
6 Kia 522 6.3
7 Suzuki 511 6.1
8 Hyundai 323 3.9
9 Nissan 274 3.3
10 Volkswagen 263 3.2


Top 10 Models May 2020

Ranking Model Sales
1 Toyota RAV4 533
2 Ford Ranger 498
3 Toyota HiLux 440
4 Holden Colorado 325
5 Mitsubishi Triton 321
6 Suzuki Swift 224
7 Kia Seltos 205
8 Toyota Corolla 185
9 Mazda CX-5 156
10 Toyota HiAce 151

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