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NZ Sales: Records set to fall by year end

Award winning: The Mazda3 took out the NZ Car of the Year award for 2014, and was the 10th best-selling model in the country last month with 219 sales.

November sees commercial sales record fall, but passenger car sales were also up

NZ sales logo5 Dec 2014

By JACQUI MADELIN in NEW ZEALAND

RECORDS continued to tumble in the New Zealand new-car market last month, as automotive distributors gathered in Auckland on December 4 for a Motor Industry Association (MIA) meeting to discuss sales results and celebrate the annual NZ car of the Year awards.

MIA chief executive officer David Crawford highlighted the growth of the light-commercial segment in the past 11 months and pinpointed a number of new sales records.

“With one month of 2014 to go, more new commercial vehicles have been sold year to date than for any previous year,” he said. “The previous highest year for new commercial registrations was 2013 with 30,881 units sold.

“Another record to tumble is November total new vehicles registrations, which were 11,176 units, up 788 units (8%) on November last year. The previous best November on record was 2013 when 10,388 units sold.

“Passenger vehicles registrations of 8,063 units during November were up 610 units (8.2%) on November 2013, for the best November since 1984. Commercial vehicle registrations of 3,113 were up 178 units (6.1%) on November 2013, the highest November since the MIA started keeping records in 1981.”

The NZ Car of the Year awards were announced by the Automobile Association and the NZ Motoring Writers Guild, with Mazda taking top honours in both the small car bracket and the overall award with its Mazda3.

However, November was Toyota’s month again, with the dominant brand taking 2431 sales, a fall of 4.1 per cent over last November due to stock constraints.

The Hilux was second in the ute segment for November, with post-award gossip suggesting the Japanese car-maker's NZ arm would register cars as demonstration units to top the ute table ahead of the Ford Ranger by year end.

Toyota NZ general manager sales and operations Steve Prangnell denied the suggestion and detailed the current sales tally compared with the Australian-developed Ranger.

“We’re not going to pre-register Hilux to get in front of Ranger, we’re 450 ahead in 4x4 and behind in 4x2 so we can’t fill that gap.” he said.“I won’t denigrate our brand to win bragging rights for the 4x2.

“We never pre-register cars to get a sales target. Year on year people say we have a paddock somewhere with 2000 cars in it and that’s urban myth. We’ve never done it, and we never will.”

That said, Mr Prangnell said he expects Toyota to top 25,000 sales this year.

Ford rose 15.5 per cent to 1324 sales, and Holden had a big month, up 38.9 per cent to 1322 units.

Holden NZ general marketing manager Marnie Samphier said the Colorado ute range and the Barina city car were sales winners for the brand last month.

“We had new model-year Colorado to fill pent-up demand, with 337 sales,” she said. “Cruze has been languishing of late and is due a model update early next year, but we have great pricing on it at $23,990 and we put a great campaign around it to sell near double last November’s total.

“And February’s launch of the RS Barina renewed interest in the model line and it’s struck a chord all year, going from number eight to number five in the segment. We had a big rental month, too.”

Mazda sales were up 15.1 per cent to 703, and the company's marketing services manager Maria Tsao was on hand to accept the Mazda3 COTY and compact hatch win, and CX-5’s second consecutive Small SUV victory.

Mrs Tsao said the standard features offered in Mazda3 has helped make it a favourite with consumers and critics alike.

“Winning the NZ Car of the Year means a great deal to us as it is awarded to us by an independent group of knowledgeable people who get to drive a whole raft of different new models, and we certainly had some stiff competition this year,” she said.

“We always knew we were onto a winner as Mazda3 is great value, has a wide range of variants and all the latest safety technology standard across the range, with items like blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert – only recently the province solely of luxury cars – available from the GLX grade." Hyundai rose 6.3 per cent to 656 in November, a steady result despite postponing the Genesis luxury car and Sonata mid-sizer launches to next year due to delays in accessing NZ-suitable satellite navigation.

Mitsubishi's sales were up 14.4 per cent to 571 units, with the company's head of sales and marketing Daniel Cook citing solid spec-to-price ratios, work in its dealer network and a strong warranty and reliability position as reasons for the growth.

Its strongest model was the ASX compact crossover, selling into a rapidly growing segment. The Outlander mid-size SUV continues to be popular with fleet buyers and the petrol-electric PHEV takes around 13 per cent of overall volume, despite being the dearest in the range.

“We’ll crack 200 this calendar year this month and we’re getting increasing enquiries, especially from fleet with organisations looking to change a portion of their fleet to hybrid,” Mr Cook said.

Nissan sales dropped 3.3 per cent to 533, and Volkswagen was also down by 8.8 per cent to 434 units, which according to VW NZ general manager Tom Ruddenklau was partly due to a large shipment of Golfs last November fulfilling earlier orders.

“This year we haven’t been able to secure the volumes of stock which has affected our volume a bit,” he said. “It’s been frustrating after the momentum we’ve started to generate. When you have good product that’s realigned and it’s become popular in other markets we scrap and fight for supply.

“We’ve been short of new Polo, in particular Cross Polo which is going very well, we’re short of two-wheel-drive Tiguan – and 2WD is now 60 per cent of that segment.

“We’re short of Golf Highline and Golf R – it’s not big volume in the scheme of things but it’s important volume for us, and we’ve run out of Touareg before the facelift model which is just starting to arrive now. So we’ve been short across the board, but it’s just cycles and we’ve got good supply of Golf for next year, Polo after that and Tiguan in the second quarter.”

Honda sales rose 12.6 per cent to 349 largely on the back of the new-generation Jazz light hatch, celebrating its win in the NZ COTY Small Car bracket and the Women's World Car of the Year Budget Car award in the same week.

Honda NZ sales and marketing manager Nadine Bell said the Jazz has been taking sales from other brands, while its other core models are also performing well.

“We’re seeing conquest sales from all brands and from larger segment sizes.

CR-V is also strong for us and we have some changes coming in the next month or two.” Honda is confident it can build sales into next year with the newly launched Odyssey people-mover already exceeding its modest expectations and the arrival of new models, including HR-V into the fast-growing light-SUV bracket.

Suzuki rounded out the top 10, down 15.2 to 323, with the company's national sales manager Garry Collins the loss of two core models has impacted sales.

“We did okay with Swift numbers but didn’t do the numbers we were looking to do with S-Cross,” he said. “We no longer have Splash and SX4 – the latter doing reasonably well last year – and we’re starting to flow through a Jimny change so couldn’t put a lot through.”

Meanwhile the top three luxury brands are fighting it out just outside the top 10 with Mercedes-Benz – celebrating its C-Class Large Car and S-Class Luxury bracket COTY wins – assisted by its van sales to 11th place with 236 sales for November.

BMW with 212 sales and Audi on 204 are fighting it out for luxury passenger domination this year, with BMW crossing 2000 models by the end of November and Audi just short, but predicting 2014 will be the first year it exceeds 2000 sales.

The Toyota Corolla was New Zealand’s top-selling model for November 2014, with 605 sales, followed by Ford Ranger – voted top ute at the Car of the Year Awards – on 566. Toyota's Hilux followed on 560, with Toyota Yaris on 340 and Holden Colorado on 322.

Then came the Toyota RAV4 (295), Honda Jazz (241), Holden Cruze (233), and Holden Commodore (232). The COTY-winning Mazda3 (219) rounded out the top 10, but only just – Suzuki sold 218 Swifts and Ford sold 217 Focus models, a whisker ahead of Nissan Navara on 212.

NZ Top 10 Makes November 2014
MakeSales% Share
Toyota243121.75
Ford132411.84
Holden132211.82
Mazda7036.29
Hyundai6565.86
Mitsubishi5715.1
Nissan5334.76
Volkswagen4343.88
Honda3493.12
Suzuki3232.89

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