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NZ Sales: Record tally as 2015 starts with a bang

Macan money: Porsche New Zealand had its best month ever in January, shifting 74 units, with 28 of them the Macan SUV.

Passenger vehicles and light commercials up in bumper start to 2015 for NZ

5 Feb 2015


LAST month marked the highest number of registrations ever for a January in New Zealand, with the 11,667 total 10.8 per cent – or 1139 units – ahead of the same period in 2014.

Motor Industry Association (MIA) chief executive David Crawford said both passenger and commercial segments hit new highs, with passenger vehicles reaching 9010, up 8.6 per cent, while 2657 commercial vehicles were sold, an increase of 19 per cent.

Mr Crawford told GoAuto that this is the first time January sales have topped 11,000 new vehicles, while January 2014’s 10,000 tally was the previous record.

Toyota proved that it has no intention of relinquishing its hold at the top of the sales board, with its 2409 units marking a rise of 31.6 per cent for a 21 per cent share of the overall market.

The Japanese car-making giant led the passenger segment with 1941 units and a 22 per cent share and its Corolla range topped the model table, on 792 units – with 582 of those rental purchases.

Ford led commercial vehicle sales with 504 units and a 19 per cent share, its Ranger still New Zealand’s favourite commercial model with 417 units, after ending the 32-year run at the top of the Toyota HiLux last year.

Mr Crawford told GoAuto that SUV sales continue to grow, with the segment taking 32 per cent market share in January.

“New vehicle sales for 2015 have started where they left off in 2014, with the outlook for 2015 remaining very positive,” he said.

However, he acknowledged that sales numbers for individual brands are “all over the place” if seen out of context of previous years.

Toyota’s 2015 increase in part reflected a drop in January 2014 sales of 5.5 per cent compared with the same month in 2013 (as a result of 2013 fleet-order timing), and in part was due to a rental order fulfilled last month.

Ford’s 1006 tally marked a 15.7 per cent drop compared with January 2014, which marked a rise of 48.4 per cent over the same month in 2013.

And Holden celebrated a January 2015 lift of 47.2 per cent to 1519, after a poor start to 2014.

Holden New Zealand general marketing manager Marnie Samphier said the increase was almost entirely accounted for by about 500 rentals, which had already been delivered in December last year.

Ms Samphier said the focus now is, “a long-term strategy to seek product out of GM plants globally as we reposition to a new direction,” given the Commodore nameplate will no longer apply to an Australian-built car beyond 2017 when the car-maker shuts its manufacturing operations.

Hyundai sales rose 13.7 per cent to 813, with Mazda just six sales behind –up 30.4 per cent – for its best sales result in New Zealand history.

Mazda NZ managing director Andrew Clearwater told GoAuto the record was especially noteworthy as January is traditionally a disrupted month with people on holiday.

The same holds true for house sales however, which also traditionally dip following Christmas, but this year held steady.

Mr Clearwater told GoAuto that ongoing market buoyancy is driven by attractive pricing across the board, the low cost of borrowing money, and overall confidence in the economy.

Mazda3 was the brand’s top performer in January, and he cited awareness around several awards it picked up, including NZ Car of the Year.

Nissan registrations rose 6.4 per cent to 782, with Mitsubishi up 13.4 per cent to 591.

Volkswagen sales dropped 7.8 per cent over January 2014 – which saw a particularly good result for the brand – and Suzuki rounded out the top 10 on 341 sales, down 35.9 per cent.

Suzuki general manager of marketing, Tom Peck, told GoAuto that Suzuki had a good January in 2014 thanks to a special offer on Swift. But this year there’s more competition in the small segment that makes up most of the brand’s sales.

Mr Peck said Toyota Yaris had a good month with rentals, and Honda did well with its new-generation Jazz, and added that he has not seen any effect of falling dairy prices or drought worries on car sales.

“We have seen some effect on motorcycle product, especially ATV, as farmers are sitting on the fence,” he said.

But Mr Peck said the dollar has dropped against other currencies and that has offset farmer concerns, especially for beef exporters.

He said Suzuki results were very product-reliant, and until the new Vitara compact SUV arrives mid-year to add a product to the popular segment, “we can’t do a lot about that.” “It’s the first time in 10 years Swift hasn’t been in the top 15 registered cars, and we’ll have to have a look and decide what to do about it.”

The standout performer was a niche luxury brand, with Porsche sales up 68.2 per cent, to 74, its biggest month on record – ahead of previous record-breaker, January 2014, with 44 sales.

Of those sales, 28 were the Macan and 28 were Cayenne SUVs.

Porsche New Zealand general manager Greg Clarke said the brand has the perfect line-up in an SUV-driven market and a strong economy, “but even taking out Macan it would be a record month for us.”

Mr Clarke said luxury brands are a marker for market direction. He told GoAuto that drought concerns are offset by the value of the NZ dollar, the price of fuel, milk prices, a housing shortage, and the fact the Christchurch rebuild is now well and truly underway.

Toyota Corolla was New Zealand’s favourite model for the first month of 2015, with 792 sales (of which 582 were rentals), followed by the Holden Commodore (445, of which 278 were rentals), Toyota RAV4 (436, including 307 rentals), Ford Ranger (417) and Toyota Hilux (324).

Toyota Yaris (308, including 188 rentals), Mazda3 (305, of which 104 were rentals), Holden Cruze (288, including 54 rentals), Nissan Navara (254) and Hyundai ix35 (230, including 32 rentals) rounded out the top 10.

NZ top 10 makes January 2015
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