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NZ Sales: On track for a record 2014

Hi placing: Toyota's HiAce light-commercial van sold 348 units in May to be the third best-selling model for the month.

Another record for commercial sales in May as Toyota HiAce cracks the top three

5 Jun 2014

By JACQUI MADELIN in NEW ZEALAND

NEW Zealand new-vehicle sales remain on track for a record year, with 10,064 total registrations in May marking a 12.8 per cent increase compared with the same month last year.

In another strong month of sales, 6802 passenger cars were sold, which is an increase of 455 units on the same month last year, while commercial registrations rose by 11 per cent to 685 units.

Japanese car-maker Toyota seems permanently cemented to the top of the table, leading the market with a 19 per cent share – up 11.6 per cent (200 units) to 1931 – with Ford in second place, down 5.7 per cent to 1118 units.

Motor Industry Association chief executive officer David Crawford said sustained economic growth helped ensure a solid result in May.

“New passenger and commercial vehicles reflect the current strong economic conditions as sales records continue to fall,” he said.

“There were 3262 registrations of new commercial vehicles for the month of May, the strongest May sales since the MIA began collecting records for commercial vehicles.”

 center imageFrom top: Toyota HiLux and Corolla, Suzuki Swift, Holden Colorado and Maxda CX-5.

Ford NZ marketing manager Chris Masterson said that while the Ranger ute remains a peak performer in a segment that continues to grow, supply issues with the Transit van range kept sales down.

“We haven’t had many of the new Transit Cargo coming through yet so are down on commercial. And on the passenger side we have a bit of a problem with some of our vehicles ageing. Falcon and Territory, our last update was 2011, and we’re coming in to run-out.”

Mr Masterson said that Falcon sales are part of a wider trend of declining sales in the overall large passenger vehicle segment, and this could continue with the facelifted version of the FG not due until the end of the year.

“The key challenges are around the C- and small-SUV segments. We didn’t sell as many Kugas as last year when it was fresh from its launch, and we’re up against new competitors including new (Nissan) X-Trail.”

He said distributors are now assuming the current growth level will continue throughout the year and that there was a lot of positivity in the industry, however he added that the sales race could be won by aggressive tactics by some brands toward the end of the year.

At this stage, Ford does not predict an impact from the upcoming New Zealand general election in September, but Mr Masterson said the company would have to wait and see what happens in the coming months.

“We won’t know for another two or three months when consumers hear more about absolute policies, and get a feel for how close the battle is between National and Labour. The consumer mindset is different to the last election, when the economy wasn’t as strong,” he said.

GM Holden sits in third place, with sales up 20.8 per cent to 1090 units.

Holden NZ managing director Jeff Murray says it released New Zealand National Agricultural Fieldays price points early, “so our commercial sales for the month are up,” and the brand is still benefitting from the introduction of the Trax compact crossover and Malibu sedan that were not on sale in that period last year.

Mr Murray told GoAuto that the market was on track for a record year if current trends continued.

“In annualised terms it’s running at 126,000, which will surpass sales since 1984. You might see some minor slowdown around the election, but I’d expect distributors to prop that up via various offers.”

Toyota, Ford and Holden hog the podium in both passenger and commercial sales, but it was the commercial models that topped the May model tables.

Toyota sold 566 Hiluxes, followed by the Ford Ranger (503), Toyota HiAce van (348), and the Holden Colorado ute (280).

Suzuki’s Swift hatch was in fifth place, and was the top-selling passenger model retailing 272 units. The Toyota Corolla (241), Mazda CX-5 (230), Toyota RAV4 (229), Holden Commodore (213) and Holden Captiva (211) rounded out the top 10.

As for the manufacturers, it was Mazda in the fourth spot, up 31.1 per cent to 675 sales followed by Nissan, up 44.6 per cent to 603.

Of that number, 150 were the new X-Trail SUV, but Nissan NZ managing director John Manley said sales were also boosted by the addition of a new dealership in Auckland.

However, he is expecting stock issues with the Navara ute, which may reduce the usually positive sales impact of Fieldays.

Korean car-maker Hyundai dropped 17.2 per cent to 589 units ahead of Mitsubishi, up 41.4 per cent to 560. Mitsubishi NZ head of sales and marketing strategy Daniel Cook cites the success of a Fieldays offer on the Triton ute.

“The other vehicle we’re selling a lot of, not a high volume but it’s making a difference, is Pajero with nearly 40 units last month, and we’re normally only just into double digits.

“Some of that is fleet business but we’ve put a special model into the market, a base model with 18-inch wheels and a chrome grille so it looks top-spec, and we’ve put it on TV. We haven’t advertised it for a long time, the offer is a good one, but the fact we’re telling people about it, that’s what’s made the difference.”

Volkswagen took eighth place, with sales up 13.3 per cent to 469, while Suzuki landed in ninth, down 1.2 per cent to 412.

Suzuki NZ sales manager Gary Collins says a shift in the market impacted sales in the smallest sectors where the brand is strongest.

“We have the benefit of the new S-Cross coming on stream, but we’re playing catch-up on supply and have a lot of forward orders.” Mr Collins said he expects Suzuki to be impacted by the upcoming election more than most.

“Our volume is close to 60 per cent private, and our older customers, especially, tend to be more conservative, but we hope S-Cross supply easing up will offset that.”

Honda, once nicely settled in the top 10, now seems to have permanently sunk below it, with luxury marque Mercedes-Benz squeezing into the final spot with 235 sales, just two ahead of Korean car-maker Kia.

NZ top 10 selling brands May 2014
RankBrandSales% Share
1Toyota193119.1
2Ford111811.1
3Holden109010.8
4Mazda6756.7
5Nissan6035.9
6Hyundai5895.8
7Mitsubishi5605.5
8Volkswagen4694.6
9Suzuki4124.0
10Mercedes-Benz2352.3

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