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NZ Sales: New vehicle numbers stumble

Rolling on: Toyota's Corolla (left) was the top-selling passenger vehicle, and fifth overall, with 310 sales last month, but the Ford Ranger (below) was number one.

First negative monthly sales result in NZ since 2011 as LCVs take slight dip

4 Jun 2015


NEW Zealand's new-car sales dipped in May for the first time since 2011, on the back of a slight slow-down in the light-commercial segment.

Last month, 10,034 vehicles were sold in NZ, which is 30 fewer sales, or 0.3 per cent down on the same month last year when 10,064 found homes.

Motor Industry Association chief executive officer David Crawford said the May figures were a steady result, but pointed out that the overall market remains six per cent up on the first five months of 2014.

“When you look at the month of May, 2014 and 2015 are the two strongest Mays on record, so the market is still strong, but we think growth will flatten out for the rest of the year,” Mr Crawford said, predicting a year-end result three to five per cent up over last year.

New passenger registrations were up 41 units on May last year, to 6843 vehicles, while new commercial-vehicle sales dropped 71 units to 3191.

However light commercials dominated the best-selling model list, with Ford's Ranger the most popular on 511 sales, followed by the Toyota Hilux (404), Nissan Navara (385), and Holden Colorado (313).

Toyota’s Corolla was the top-selling passenger car at 310 sales for fifth overall, followed by the Mazda CX-5 (242, including 40 rentals), Holden Captiva (229, 40 of them rentals), Hyundai ix35 (226, including 50 rentals) and Holden Commodore (225, of which 58 were rentals), with the Hyundai Santa Fe rounding out the top 10 on 206 (49 of them rentals), just one unit ahead of Toyota HiAce sales.

With just two conventional passenger models in the top 10, SUVs continue to dominate, with 3376 sales for a 33.6 per cent share of the market, while 2334 utes sold, making up 23.2 per cent.

In terms of passenger cars, mid-size (5.4 per cent) and large (3.7 per cent) segments lagged behind, with light (9.9 per cent) and small cars (12.5 per cent) the most popular brackets.

Toyota continues to lead the overall market, its 1604 sales down 16.9 per cent over May 2014, for a 15.9 per cent market share.

Toyota NZ general manager of sales and operations Steve Prangnell told GoAuto that rental sales that last year delivered in May were brought forward, and have already been delivered in 2015.

Mr Prangnell said the market has gotten tougher in the lead up to New Zealand's National Agricultural Fieldays, a period were sales traditionally increase.

“You can see it from (dairy company) Fonterra news, a little uncertainty around interest rates, and we haven’t seen the anticipated pre-Fieldays lift in activity yet with the event next week.”

Holden took second from rival Ford last month, thanks in part to a slight 1.4 per cent increase to 1105 sales.

GM Holden NZ general sales manager Sean Tupp said he was pleased with the result in a market that has been difficult to predict, given the uncertainty around how payouts to farmers and bad weather will affect purchasing decisions.

Mr Tupp said he expects year-end growth of six per cent based on new model activity, with Holden helping push that growth on the back of the Astra and Cascada launch last month, and the Insignia all-wheel-drive sedan that arrives in a few weeks.

Ford slipped to third, down 8.3 per cent to 1025 units, while Mazda grew by 18.7 per cent over May last year to 801, and Nissan climbed by 18.2 per cent to 713 sales.

Nissan NZ managing director John Manley said while sales decreased for the first month since November 2011, he does not see a downward trend despite some negativity around dairy pricing, and the Auckland housing market.

Mr Manley said he predicts year-end growth of three per cent.

Meanwhile Nissan is capitalising on its strongest segments, with updated X-Trail, Qashqai and Navara selling well.

South Korean car-maker Hyundai's sales lifted 15.4 per cent to 680, and Mitsubishi rose 10.7 per cent to 620.

Mitsubishi NZ head of sales and marketing strategy Daniel Cook said he believes May’s flat result was a flow-on from April, with Easter and school holidays making it a relatively short trading month.

“We track website traffic carefully and there’s a four-week delay in people looking to buy,” he said.

“Those looking in March bought in April, but with a busy month and few trading days people weren’t looking in April, so May sales suffered.”

Volkswagen dropped 8.5 per cent to 429 sales, Suzuki fell 18.4 per cent to 336, and Honda returned to the top 10 after being kept out by Kia last month, up 33.2 per cent to 261 largely on the back of new-model activity.

Honda NZ sales and marketing manager Nadine Bell told GoAuto that the Jazz hatch is selling strongly with competitor acquisition, as is the facelifted CR-V mid-size SUV which launched in February, and the just-released 2015 Euro Civic hatch.

There’s been less than the usual activity in the lead-up to the New Zealand National Agricultural Fieldays, and with the event taking place over four days next week, those with sales plans revolving around it will be hoping the farming segment remains confident.

NZ Top 10 makes May 2015
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