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NZ sales: Sales flourish across the Tasman
New Zealand’s passenger and commercial vehicle sales hit record
9 Feb 2014
By JACQUI MADELIN in New Zealand
NEW Zealand new-vehicle sales hit new heights in January, despite predictions that volume could no longer rise ahead of GDP.
The 10,528 sales total was 13.3 per cent higher than last year and was the highest for January since the Motor Industry Association began collecting records, said MIA chief executive officer David Crawford.
Records show 8293 passenger vehicles were sold, the most since they began in 1975, marking a 12.3 per cent rise on January 2013.
At the same time, the 2235 commercial vehicle registrations recorded for January also topped every year since 1981, when the MIA began collecting those records, marking a rise of 17.1 per cent.
“It’s the fourth month in a row that records have been the highest since records began, fueled by a strong New Zealand dollar and a strong economy,” Mr Crawford said.
New Zealand’s favourite model for the month was Toyota’s Corolla (722 units) followed by Ford’s Ranger (314), Ford’s Focus (301) and Nissan’s Navara (291).
New Zealand’s favourite market segment was SUVs with 27 per cent of sales, followed by small passenger cars at 26 per cent, and utes at 14 per cent.
Toyota retained its perennial top billing despite a drop of 5.5 per cent on the same month last year with 1830 sales and 17.4 per cent share of the market. The lion’s share of this drop was down to commercial vehicle sales, according to general manager of sales and operations Steve Prangnell.
“Our dealers sold more but we didn’t do as much fleet,” he said.
“I think the market will continue to grow this year. There’s a lot going on in terms of business confidence at an all-time high, the economy is strong, the Christchurch rebuild is going on in earnest, and major infrastructure projects are continuing in Auckland.
“(However) There are some deals we won’t chase this year as we’d suffer with supply from Japan. TMC globally has announced it will concentrate on building a robust global business capable of withstanding future financial shocks, so it isn’t investing in too much additional capacity. It is consolidating its business, so we will be supply constrained and are therefore planning for small growth.” Ford took second spot with 1193 sales for 11.3 per cent share, a rise of 48.4 per cent.
Ford NZ national sales manager Mel Rushton said January was not normally a high point for Ford, but this year marked a good start – one place on the table higher than last year replete with two of the top three vehicle registrations, the Ranger and Focus.
Ms Rushton predicted the year would progress as it kicked off, saying that: “we have Ecosport arriving early in the second quarter which should drive increased dealer traffic and it’s a new segment for us, so incremental sales, plus a new Transit around the same time”.
Holden sold 1032 cars for 9.8 per cent share, a 5.5 per cent fall, and Nissan took fourth, with 735 sales, 28 per cent up over January 2013.
Nissan managing director John Manley is reversing most forecasts and predicting modest growth, telling GoAuto that: “planning is a bit of a quandary for us. Our own prediction is there’s nothing to suggest the domestic economy can grow at three per cent and motor cars at 12, but every time we say that it goes and does it.
“If current trends continue we’ll have the biggest year since the 1970s, and it could hit 120,000.
“Motor cars have always been an accurate barometer of our domestic economy, and there’s nothing to suggest they will hit a slow patch.” As for his own brand, Altima was launched mid-December, and as primarily a fleet-focussed car he expects sales to fire only as businesses return to work after the summer holiday. But, he added, the company enjoyed “a fantastic month for Qashqai with 177, and we didn’t do a single rental car last month”.
Hyundai in fifth fell 1.4 per cent to sell 715 vehicles. General manager Andy Sinclair said sales would again be subject to factory supply.
“Hyundai is putting more shifts on in its factories, but a major increase in numbers needs more plants, and they are very clear that before they do that we need to be right on top of quality.” Mr Sinclair said rising sales to private customers confirmed the effect of an improving economy and low interest rates, saying that “people feel more secure in their jobs, and that confirms New Zealand is completely out of recession”.
Mazda’s 619 tally marks a marginal 0.8 per cent lift in registrations, followed by Suzuki in seventh at 532, up 19.6 per cent, helped by around 100 deliveries of its new S-Cross crossover. But the company is less confident than some others that the strong January sales can be maintained.
“We’re looking at holding share this year and not predicting the market to grow,” said general manager marketing Tom Peck. “January has taken everyone a little bit by surprise.” Suzuki New Zealand relies on strong Swift sales and those were hit last year by 4000 used-import Swifts, many of them late model. Suzuki’s 2014 result could depend on how many used-import competitors cross NZ docks this year.
Volkswagen finished eighth with 523 sales, up 29.8 per cent to leapfrog Mitsubishi on 521 units. Honda again rounded out the top 10 with 360 sales, up 8.8 per cent over the same month last year.
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