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NZ sales: Records keep falling in September

Top pick: Ford's Aussie-developed Ranger ute was the top-selling vehicle again in New Zealand last month with 4435 sales.

New-car buyers in New Zealand undeterred by general election, with sales up again

8 Oct 2014


NEW Zealand's general election has not had a negative impact on new-vehicle sales, with last month's haul of 11,840 the highest September result since records began in 1975.

Motor Industry Association chief executive officer David Crawford said it was the strongest month for commercial vehicles since 1975 as well, with 3458 sales, while the passenger tally of 8382 was the strongest since 1986.

“Year to date, registrations of new commercial vehicles are 4907 units (21.5 per cent) above this time 2013,” he said. “Registrations of passenger vehicles year to date are 6218 units (10.3 per cent) above this time in 2013.”

The result brought the year-to-date total to 94,439, which is 13.3 per cent up on the 83,343 figure reached at the end of the third quarter in 2013.

New vehicle distributors were not the only ones celebrating, with used import numbers rising 32.7 per cent year to date, while sales of motorcycles were also up.

Toyota led the market again with 16,695 registrations year to date, up 1.8 per cent for a 17.6 per cent total market share.

Back in January, Toyota NZ general manager of sales and operations Steve Prangnell predicted limited growth for the brand this year after the company announced it would consolidate, not grow its global business.

 center image From top: Toyota HiLux, Toyota Corolla and Holden Commodore.

Mr Prangnell said he is not disappointed with the result, especially given that it was the biggest September the Japanese brand has ever had and predicted a bullish last quarter for Toyota thanks to the facelifted Yaris.

“We are aiming for 1400 Yaris' over the last three months of the year,” he said.

Mr Prangnell's sales target is the biggest ever for that quarter, although he said Toyota New Zealand is struggling in the passenger segment due to lack of supply.

“We can’t take advantage of the strong growth in SUV sales, with Highlander, RAV4 and Prado stock limited. There’s such demand on the diesel engine from Toyota globally, and that’s a factor of not investing in infrastructure – after the GFC, Toyota made a deliberate decision not to keep increasing capacity, to consolidate business and not over-invest.”

Nevertheless, Mr Prangnell now predicts the market will hit 127,000 by the year's end.

Ford landed in second place, up 12.5 per cent to 10,226 units, with Holden in third, up 17.3 per cent to 9877 on the back of what managing director Jeff Murray calls “great offers we have in the market which have struck a chord with the private and business sectors of the industry.” The result also reflects the first full year of sales for the Barina RS, Malibu mid-sizer, VF Commodore and the Trax compact crossover.

Meanwhile, Hyundai sales rose eight per cent to 6500, while Mazda was up 12 per cent to 6076, after its best September on record.

Mazda NZ national marketing manager Glenn Harris said the CX-5 SUV was the best-seller for the month, with all-wheel drive variants strongest in business sales and two-wheel drive leading with private buyers.

Mr Harris said he expects the market to subside into next year, but not dramatically.

“There are hints of a chilly wind in dairying, but farmers are resilient and budget quite far out, while changes to milk repayments are not expected until mid-next year.”

Mitsubishi has had a strong year, with sales up 28.3 per cent so far to 5836, largely on the back of interest in its SUV line-up.

Mitsubishi NZ head of sales and marketing strategy Daniel Cook said the growth was mostly from major cities, with regional areas a little slower.

“In Auckland we saw a strong month overall, though in the provinces we saw a slowdown just prior to the election in mid-size cities and they took off again post election,” he said.

Mr Cook predicted the market will end the year up 12 per cent, and drop to six per cent growth for 2015.

“It’s hard to see growth continue at this rate, but there aren’t too many reasons to say it will slow down a lot, either.”

Nissan's numbers were up by 11.4 per cent to 5598, however the company's NZ managing director John Manly said there were still some residual issues with Navara supply.

“We had very high private sales with no impact from the election, it quietened a week before then took off after.” Mr Manly predicted continued consumer confidence and compared the new-car market to New Zealand's real estate market.

“Bear in mind it’s only getting back to where it was in the 1970s,” he said. “I think people are beginning to realise new cars have never been so affordable, there’s stability and positivity in the economy so people are willing to purchase big ticket.

“Look at the real estate market, people’s perceived equity is growing through the roof. Net migration is up, a lot of positive things are happening, and the vehicle market has always been a good indicator of confidence.”

Sales of German brand Volkswagen rose 4.8 per cent to 4108, while Suzuki was the only company in the top 10 to experience a drop – down 1.4 per cent to 3765.

Suzuki NZ national sales manager Gary Collins said his company did see an effect from the general election with most sales coming from private buyers rather than business. He added that this picked up after the election but admitted that Suzuki suffers from a lack of product in some growth segments.

“But still, I’m disappointed compared to last year with where we are at.

Competition coming into the small segment [Toyota Yaris and Honda Jazz] in their honeymoon phase has taken a few people out of that market.”

Mr Collins said he expects Suzuki sales to end the year just ahead of 2013, but probably below market trend.

Honda rounded out the top 10, up 12.5 per cent to 2700, but national sales and marketing manager Nadine Bell says the result is better than it looks as the Japanese brand has “400 agreements in the bank, not yet delivered”.

Ms Bell said that Honda sales are ahead of predictions, assisted by the fact that 31.4 per cent of Jazz volume coming from conquest sales of other brands and often larger cars, with the model still only three months into its first year of sales.

The Jazz is yet to crack the top 10 passenger rankings – it currently sits in 13th – while Ford’s Ranger ute led the year-to-date model table with 4435 sales, followed by Toyota HiLux (4264), Toyota Corolla (3837), Holden Commodore (2254) and Holden Colorado (2187).

Toyota Hiace (1990), Suzuki Swift (1976), Nissan Navara (1964), Mazda CX-5 (1802) and Mazda3 (1792) round out the model favourites.

NZ Top 10 makes September 2014
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NZ Top 10 makes YTD to end September 2014
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