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NZ Sales: Market continues setting records

All gone: Kia's Sorento SUV sold out in New Zealand in February, two month out from the release of the all-new second-generation model (left).

New-car sales in NZ hit 30-year February high as commercials reach record sales

NZ sales logo6 Mar 2015

By JACQUI MADELIN in New Zealand

THERE is still little sign of the sales decline anticipated by New Zealand’s new-car industry, with registrations up 8.1 per cent over the same month in 2014, the 9877 total being the highest since 1984 when it reached 10,035.

Motor Industry Association (MIA) chief executive David Crawford said this February was the strongest on record for new commercial registrations, and the strongest since 1989 for new passenger vehicles.

SUVs took 32 per cent of sales for the month, with 3116, followed by light-commercial utes at 20 per cent – with three in the top 10 model chart – and small cars on 15 per cent.

Toyota retained its stranglehold at the top of the new-vehicle sales table, with 1552 for the month, up 13.9 per cent for a 15.7 per cent share.

Ford sales rose 9.3 per cent to 977, closely followed by Holden, up 2.3 per cent to 971 when compared with the same month last year, which was up 53.1 per cent on February 2013.

Holden New Zealand’s new managing director and former Victoria-Tasmania zone manager Kristian Aquilina is still settling into his role and told GoAuto that being outpaced by market growth was not unexpected after so many months ahead of trend.

As for coming months, he added that he sees mixed indicators in the economy, and anticipates strength in northern centres and mixed results further south, disrupted by the rural economy’s reliance on good news about weather patterns and dairy payouts, “much as news on commodity prices like gold affects Australia’s economy.”

Mr Aquilina said he expects momentum to continue to mid-year before flattening off and added that factors such as used imports mean the market dynamic is very different compared with Australia.

“It’s fair to say this is an industry with a consumer product in price deflation, not many are like this,” he said. “Cars are sold at increasingly competitive prices, with increasing features and quality every step of the way.”

As for Holden’s coming model line-up, the imminent closure of Australian manufacturing means the company can broaden its sourcing footprint across the world, “and pick up GM-family products that suit the NZ market to a T,” he said.

“Astra (hatch) and Cascada (convertible) are our first foray, with a broad range filling niches we haven’t done before, enabled by not having to constrain our sourcing to Australian operations, so it’s an exciting future for us which will challenge how people think of the Holden brand.”

Mazda sales hit 785 in February, up 23.6 per cent, with Hyundai up 2.5 per cent, to 749.

Mitsubishi rose 18.6 per cent to 682, Nissan dropped 3.5 per cent to 637, and Volkswagen rose 17.1 per cent to 485, while Suzuki sales fell 31.3 per cent to 294 – the biggest mover of the top 10.

Suzuki New Zealand general manager of marketing Tom Peck said February 2014 was boosted by the launch of S-Cross, with double the usual monthly 50 or 60 going out in February last year compared with this year.

He said that in addition, a special offer on Swift early in 2014 put it third on the passenger charts in February 2014, with 67 more sales than February 2015, so his result was not unexpected.

Kia sales dropped 1.9 per cent to 253, and the South Korean car-maker' Kia NZ general manager Todd McDonald told GoAuto they had successfully run out of current Sorento SUVs with the new model launching in April.

Mr McDonald said he plans to lift unit volume this year by increasing specification and via a new Cerato variant sold at a special retail price.

He added that he does not expect much movement in the overall market in 2015, but he suggested that rentals could be the wild-card.

“We’ve seen a decline in the American dollar, economists think our dollar is over inflated, and changes will make tourism more attractive, affecting the rental market,” he said.

Honda was knocked out of the top 10 by one vehicle, while its February sales were up by 9.6 per cent, to 252 units.

Toyota’s HiLux was February’s most popular model, with 427 sales, followed by Ford Ranger (381, including nine rentals), Toyota Corolla (302, of which 24 were rentals), Nissan Navara (266) and Mazda CX-5 (210).

Toyota HiAce (208, including 11 rentals), Mazda3 (206), Holden Commodore (204, of which 52 were rentals), Toyota RAV4 (202, of which 34 were rentals) and Mitsubishi Triton (200) rounded out the top 10.

NZ Top 10 makes February 2015
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