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NZ Sales: Record registrations for New Zealand in 2015
New-vehicle sales top 130,000 for the first time ever in New Zealand
11 Jan 2016
By JACQUI MADELIN in NEW ZEALAND
NEW-CAR sales in New Zealand hit a record high in 2015, according to figures released by the Motor Industry Association, with 134,041 registrations representing a rise of 6862 units, or 5.4 per cent, over the 2014 result.
Commercial-vehicle sales also hit a new record, up 6.6 per cent to 39,077 units, while passenger numbers were up 4.9 per cent, to 94,964.
Toyota topped the brands table, but it was a Ford that was New Zealand’s favourite model, with the Ranger marking the first time a commercial vehicle has outsold a passenger car, according to Motor Industry Association chief executive officer David Crawford.
The Ranger (6818) was followed by the Toyota Corolla (6514, of which 3415 were rental), Toyota's HiLux (5623), the Holden Colorado (3586) and Toyota RAV4 (3519, 1665 of them rentals).
Outside the top five was the Nissan Navara (3146), Holden Commodore (2710 – 931 of them rentals), Mazda CX-5 (2577), Toyota Highlander (2540, including 1418 rentals) and Mazda3 (2506, of which 581 were rentals).
The luxury market also had a strong year, with Mercedes-Benz up 14.8 per cent to 2975, assisted by its van sales, followed by BMW, down 8.2 per cent to 1952, and Audi, down 14.9 per cent to 1765.
SUVs continue to dominate, taking 34 per cent of the overall market, or 45,376 registrations.
Mr Crawford said the key to the year’s tally was the breadth of new models, with the level of choice available helping sales as economic growth slowed.
Toyota registrations rose 6.6 per cent to 26,330 in a market slightly stronger than it had predicted as the year began.
Toyota chief executive Alistair Davis told GoAuto the company had struggled with supply of some key models.
“We commit to volume well before the year starts, and we sold our allocated production,” he said. “A number of models, especially RAV4, were supply constrained.” Mr Davis said a bigger-than-expected market was a challenge, but added that he was happy with the result. He predicted a slight decline in the overall market for 2016, with the economy slowing, and a similar decline for Toyota NZ.
“The New Zealand dollar has come off its highs, so car prices will probably drift up a little bit.
“The most significant change for us will be the upgrade of Prius to the next generation in the first quarter.” Mr Davis said he strongly supports Toyota’s drive to more hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell-powered cars in the coming years.
“Toyota has come out with an aggressive goal for 2050 emissions, and Prius is the next step along the way. We will introduce Corolla hybrid in due course, with more to come – our long-term goal is to introduce hybrids into our whole model range.” GM Holden rose 4.3 per cent to 14,001, while Ford sales dropped 1.6 per cent to 13,808. Ford NZ general marketing manager Cameron Thomas said the launch of Mustang this month is driving a lot of traffic, and he expects that to lead people into showrooms.
As for the market overall, Mr Thomas said he expects it to plateau or drop.
“We’re seeing the economy holding up relatively strongly, but house prices flattening out, which will influence disposable income.” Mazda had a record year, crossing the 10,000 barrier for the first time after 31 consecutive months of growth. A 24 per cent rise in registrations took its tally to 10,078.
Mazda NZ national marketing manager Glenn Harris said the CX-5 is now its primary model, while CX-3’s entry into a new segment has added 100 units per month.
An upgraded BT-50 ute gave sales a lift over the outgoing model, and MX-5 is retailing 35 per month, “so we’re scrounging around for all the production we can get,” Mr Harris said.
He added that he expects the market in 2016 to move in line with GDP, which means it may drop, “and that’s where we’re working on our production assumptions”.
Mr Harris said 2016 will be a year of consolidation for Mazda.
“We are keen on keeping at a 10,000-and-something number, and with a good tail wind and positive production from the plant, that’s looking pretty good at this point.” Hyundai used a strong SUV line-up to offset its lack of a ute offering to hold steady, with a rise of 0.2 per cent to 8329, followed by Mitsubishi, up 8.3 per cent to 8149.
Mitsubishi NZ head of sales and marketing strategy Daniel Cook said he was happy with a sixth full year of year-on-year growth, “We had the president of Mitsubishi out here to prematurely celebrate our result,” he said.
Mr Cook says Mitsubishi’s product line-up is well-placed to make the most of current trends, with a strong SUV line-up.
“Our view is the 2016 market won’t be as bullish in terms of rate of growth. We predict a static market. It was bad news for dairy in the last year, but offsetting that we’ve seen strong immigration and strength in the building sector. The NZ dollar did dip last year, but we withstood those shocks and posted a record market.” Nissan sales grew 9.9 per cent to 7869, while Volkswagen dropped 3.4 per cent to 5045. Suzuki registrations fell 6.8 per cent to 4501, while Honda rounded out the top 10, up 1.5 per cent to 3609.
BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander said he predicts no rise in interest rates for at least two years, and the official cash rate to stay at 2.5 per cent until 2018.
Mr Alexander says that there is evidence that the relationship between the pace of economic growth and the inflation you get from that has changed, and so has consumer behavior.
“These days the cost of searching for an alternative price has radically reduced and businesses are finding it difficult to change prices,” he said.
“There is excess production around the world, a bit too much oil sloshing around, excess production of coal, iron ore etc, so global inflation is being kept low.” Still, Mr Crawford said 2015 will be remembered as the year when NZ new-vehicle registrations soared while the economy showed weaker growth in the face of several unfavourable economic indicators at home and abroad.
“The breadth of new models with increased performance and comfort features, combined with competitive prices and a high level of choice, makes New Zealand one of the most competitive new-car markets anywhere in the world,” he said. “It has never been a better time to buy a new vehicle.”
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