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NZ sales: Market softens further in March

That hurt: Toyota’s sales were down a significant 29.9 per cent in NZ last month, with the HiLux (-36.5%) ute accounting for most of its lost volume.

New Zealand’s new-vehicle market declines 5.4 per cent in March as soft 2019 looms

3 Apr 2019

NEW Zealand’s new-vehicle market backtracked for the second time in 2019 in March, with the third month of the year’s 13,271 sales representing a 5.4 per cent decrease over the corresponding month in 2018.
With January (13,938 units) down 6.0 per cent and February (11,699) up 1.5 per cent, the decline in year-to-date sales (38,908) has now softened by 3.7 per cent on the back of the third-strongest March result on record, behind 2018 (14,028) and 2017 (13,869).
“The outturn for March 2019 was weaker than the same period on 2017 and 2018 but still strong compared to 2009 to 2016 period,” said NZ Motor Industry Association (MIA) chief executive David Crawford.
“However, it indicates that after a sustained period of growth, the 2019 market is likely to be down on last year.”
Sales of passenger cars and SUVs were down 6.9 per cent, to 8425 units combined, while light-commercial vehicles also declined, with volume dipping 2.7 per cent, to 4846 units.
Mid-size SUVs were again the most popular type of new vehicle, with a 17.8 per cent market share, followed by pick-up/cab-chassis 4x4s (16.8%) and small SUVs (14.0%).
Despite being seriously battered and bruised, Toyota led from the front in March, with the lion’s share of its 1697 sales (-29.9%) coming from the third-placed HiLux ute (581 units, -36.5%) and eighth-placed Corolla small car (301, +4.9%).
While Ford (1328 units, -14.4%) also had a tough month, it once again finished in second position on the back of the NZ’s best-selling model, the Ranger ute (850, -6.8%).
The Blue Oval will be looking over its shoulder in the coming months, though, as Mitsubishi is in third position as one of the few brands defying the market downturn, with its 1225 sales in March up 11.0 per cent.
This impressive performance was largely thanks to the second-placed Triton ute (594 units, +55.5%), while the 11th-place Outlander mid-size SUV (261) also did some heavy-lifting.
Mazda also bucked the trend last month and recorded growth in fourth position, with its 1089 sales equating to a 7.1 per cent improvement. The seventh-placed CX-5 mid-size SUV (310 units, +2.3%) and ninth-placed BT-50 ute (284) were its best-selling models.
Holden ranked higher in NZ than Australia in March, claiming fifth position with its sales only slipping 5.8 per cent, to 1036 vehicles, as its fourth-placed Colorado ute (488 units, +14.3%) put in a strong effort.
Nissan was the biggest improver among the best-selling brands last month, with its 18.7 per cent increase to 814 sales enough to take sixth position. Crucially, this growth was achieved in a month when its sixth-placed Navara ute (324 units, +2.9%) was only a steady performer.
Honda (699 units, +9.9%) barely took seventh position over Hyundai (674, +6.8%), with the former buoyed by the 12th-placed Jazz light car (213) and 13th-placed HR-V small SUV (207), while the latter was led by the 13th-placed Tucson mid-size SUV (207).
A consistent Kia (626 units, +1.5%) was a little further behind in ninth position but staved off Suzuki (566, -7.1%) to round out the top 10. The former’s fifth-placed Sportage mid-size SUV (379) was prolific, while the latter’s 10th-placed Swift light car (263) played its usual role.
In the year-to-date sales race, Toyota’s 5618 sales and 14.4 per cent market share have it 1565 units ahead of second-placed Ford, which has the best-selling model in NZ, the Ranger (2384, 6.1%), driving its overall performance.

NZ top 10 makes March 2019
Ranking Brand Sales Share%
1 Toyota 1697 12.8
2 Ford 1328 10.0
3 Mitsubishi 1225 9.2
4 Mazda 1089 8.2
5 Holden 1036 7.8
6 Nissan 814 6.1
7 Honda 699 5.3
8 Hyundai 674 5.1
9 Kia 626 4.7
10 Suzuki 566 4.3

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