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NZ sales: New-vehicle registrations surge
August continues upward trend for New Zealand’s new-car market
4 Sep 2015
By JACQUI MADELIN in New Zealand
NEW-VEHICLE sales in New Zealand are confounding economic trends, with the market growing by 9.8 per cent in August, or 1003 more registrations compared with the same month last year, for a total of 11,192.
Passenger-car numbers rose 9.4 per cent to 7752, representing the strongest August since 1986, while new commercial registrations grew by 10.8 per cent over August 2014, to 3440 units.
Used-import sales rose seven per cent over the same month in 2014, to 12,796.
The scale of the rise confounded expectations that the rate of growth would slow toward the end of the year on the back of reduced consumer confidence.
However, BNZ chief economist for New Zealand, Tony Alexander, told GoAuto that while consumer confidence has dropped, it takes six to nine months for that to lead to concern about purchasing large items, such as vehicles or white goods.
What is offsetting that, according to Mr Alexander, is the fact borrowing costs are low and falling further, meaning durable goods imported from overseas remain affordable, at least in the short term, as the effects of a drop in dollar value have not yet hit.
“The incentive is to buy earlier rather than later, and ahead of Christmas, sales of durable goods are likely to be really firm,” he said. “But through into 2016 some will have bought, and prices will be up.”
Feedback from several industry segments suggested that the usual October surge in rental orders is kicking in early too, as the exchange rate is favourable to NZ’s tourist industry.
One in five new cars sold in August carried the Toyota badge, with the brand’s sales up 445 – or 24 per cent – to 2302 registrations, boosted by the month’s rentals.
Five Toyotas entered the top 10 rentals for the month, including the Corolla, Yaris, RAV4, Highlander (Kluger) and HiAce totalling 775, against four Toyotas in the top 10 for August 2014, totaling 402 sales.
Ford sat in second spot overall, up 8.5 per cent to 1226, with GM Holden in third, down 8.5 per cent to 1016.
GM Holden NZ general manager sales Sean Tupp said the car-maker achieved its target based on market forecasts, though the brand still predicts record overall market year-end totals around 131,000.
“We hadn’t expected the market overall to grow this strongly,” he said.
Mazda sales rose 33 per cent per cent to 838, its 27th consecutive month of year-on-year growth, with a record month for the CX-5 SUV, which hit 241 units, 77 more than the same month last year.
Hyundai grabbed fifth on the month’s table, up 11.6 to 724, with Nissan up 40.7 per cent, or 182 vehicles, to 629. Of Nissan’s August total, 78 were examples of the newly launched Navara ute.
Nissan NZ managing director John Manley said the Japanese car-maker had no Navara stock in August 2014 due to sourcing difficulties, but this year stock of the workhorse was at full strength.
“That said, the US sold 28,000 Rogue [X-Trail] in one month, which puts our NZ market into perspective,” he said.
Mr Manley said the combination of an aggressive market, and the awareness from buyers that dropping exchange rates will boost prices in the future, make now a great time to buy a new car, hence the market response.
As for milk prices denting business confidence, Mr Manley told GoAuto, “Ever time Fonterra brings out bad news everyone hits the deck, but the reality is we aren’t totally a dairy country, and as our dollar goes down exports do better, so it’s swings and roundabouts.”
Mitsubishi sales rose 1.7 per cent to 584, while Volkswagen fell 5.5 per cent to 399.
Suzuki dropped 3.9 per cent to 346, but the company expects its fortunes to lift as it launches the new Vitara crossover that will sit between niche off-roaders the Jimny and Grand Vitara to enter the popular compact-SUV segment.
SUVs of all types took up 33.7 per cent of the New Zealand market in August.
Suzuki general manager of marketing Tom Peck said he expects the Vitara to be the brand’s second-biggest seller, with a sales target of 100 to 150 each month.
Mr Peck said he predicts a boost in Suzuki sales in coming months as the S-Cross targets a slightly different buyer to the Vitara, and thus is unlikely to dilute the effect of the new model.
He also predicted a coming announcement at the Frankfurt motor show confirming the development of a concept into production in a new segment, which is likely to be the Corolla-sized Baleno.
Honda rounded out the top 10, down 11 per cent to 331.
NZ’s top 10 models for August were Ford’s Ranger, with 735 sales marking a rise of 34 per cent over the same month in 2014, followed by Toyota Corolla (621, of which 378 were rentals), Hilux (543), Holden Colorado (285), and Toyota RAV4 (269, 99 of which were rentals).
Outside the top five was the Mazda3 (240, of which 113 were rentals), Mazda CX-5 (239), Toyota Yaris (237, of which 121 were rentals), Toyota HiAce (230, 82 of them rentals) and the run-out Hyundai ix35 (229, 70 of them rentals).
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