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NZ sales: Utes keep sales rolling

Ute boost: The Holden Colorado utility was the fourth best-selling vehicle in New Zealand last month.

Light commercials up as consumer confidence boosts the New Zealand sales charts

3 Jul 2014


STRONG sales of light commercial vehicles has pushed New Zealand new-vehicle sales well ahead of early predictions, with the overall market up by 14.1 per cent in the year to end June over the same period last year, with 62,146 vehicles sold.

Motor Industry Association (MIA) chief executive officer David Crawford said June's total of 12,519 passenger and commercial vehicle sales is a 17 per cent boost on June 2013, with LCVs lifting the market considerably.

“Registrations of 4,002 new commercial vehicles for the month of June were phenomenal, not only being the strongest June sales since the MIA began collecting records for commercial vehicles in 1981, but the strongest month of any monthly sales.”

While 2014 is an election year in New Zealand, the industry still predicts that the market will reach 125,000 units by the end of the year.

The commercial segment is still driving this rise, but passenger sales are also up by 11 per cent year to date, with 4550 more sold than at the same time last year.

But it was utes that drove the market in June, which is when New Zealand holds the National Agricultural Fieldays – the largest such event in the southern hemisphere – and is the focus of advertising and seasonal specials for the months leading up to it.

Toyota registered 847 HiLux sales for the month – well ahead of second-placed Ford Ranger on 574, with Holden's Colorado just edged out of third place by the ever-popular Toyota Corolla.

It is the same three models that dominate year-to-date sales figures, with HiLux tallying 2915, Ranger on 2757 and Corolla at 2313.

Suzuki’s Swift comes in fourth (1436), followed by the Holden Commodore (1397), Nissan Navara ute (1354), Toyota HiAce van (1347), Mazda CX-5 (1254), Holden Captiva (1194) and Mazda3 (1148).

Toyota leads the market with 10,858 sales for a 17 per cent share, which ensures it remains firmly in first place, with a modest 0.6 per cent year-to-date increase.

The Japaneses car-maker's local chief executive, Alistair Davis, said several factors are contributing to the strong market.

“The economy is growing faster than expected with close to four per cent GDP.

There’s high participation in the economy, with 69 per cent of adults working – Australia is at 64 per cent – employment at record highs and inward migration at record highs, which drives demand.

“We have an economy that’s something of the rock star of the western world,” he said.

Mr Davis expects numbers to settle somewhat, with the possibility of interest rate rises closer to the election in September, and said that Toyota's slow growth was a result of stock shortages.

“We’ve been caught out as we’re struggling for capacity, Toyota is operating at 95 per cent worldwide, and it’s a bit of an exercise to get stock.” Mr Davis therefore expects Toyota’s total sales volume to end the year similar to 2013 still number one but with a smaller share, “as the market has grown faster than we can supply.”

Ford and Holden still have a way to catch up, with Ford second on the YTD sales chart, up 14.8 per cent to 6743, followed by Holden, up 17.2 per cent to 6272.

South Korean car-maker Hyundai is up 10.6 per cent and holds fourth on 4522 sales and the company’s NZ general manager Andy Sinclair says he is happy with that figure given they do not offer a ute.

“Growth is being driven by Auckland and Christchurch, but in saying that, all our dealers are doing well. SUV continues strong, and we have good models in that bracket – and have sold 1000 Santa Fe so far this year.

“SUVs suit the New Zealand lifestyle, and as more players enter the market with more choice, because the demand is there, it’s a self-perpetuating trend.”

Mr Sinclair said that a utility is not in the brand's immediate future, as each production facility is currently running at capacity.

“Our factories are at full capacity and to add a new model range would require building another,” he said.

In fifth, Mazda rose 12.9 per cent to 3938 units, with growth driven by its passenger models, particularly the CX-5 compact SUV and Mazda3 small car.

Mazda NZ national marketing manager Glenn Harris said some of the market is driven by a recent shift from used imports, though that market is also up – from 40,026 in the year to end May 2013, to 52,679 for the same period this year.

Mr Harris said the ratio between new and used has levelled out, thanks to cheaper prices.

“A lot of traditional used buyers have gone into entry-level new cars. New cars have never been more affordable – it is exchange rate dependent. We all increased our pricing during the GFC, and we’re only just starting to roll that back with new product arriving without pricing adjustments, and in some cases price rollback.

“New car pricing is the best it’s ever been, and that’s attracting traditional buyers of late-model used.”

As for the coming half-year, Mr Harris told GoAuto he does not expect the election to affect sales.

“Polling suggests it won’t be as closely-fought a race as it has been I think there’s too much momentum, it’ll be hard to slow it down over that one quarter.”

Mitsubishi had something to celebrate, with year-to-date sales up 38.2 per cent to 3912, overtaking Nissan for sixth spot on the sale charts.

Mitsubishi NZ's head of sales and marketing strategy Daniel Cook said the result was “no accident” and that the company had worked hard in the past six months.

Mr Cook said consumer confidence was a factor in Mitsubishi's result, as well as good supply of stock.

“We had our largest-ever month of Pajero and ASX sales,” he said. “And we’re attracting more lease business with total cost of ownership.

“A lot of customers state the (10-year powertrain, five-year new vehicle) warranty is their reason for purchasing.”

Nissan rose nine per cent to 3811 units, followed by Volkswagen which is up 12.2 per cent to 2830, then Suzuki – the only one of the top 10 to drop sales, down 0.3 per cent to 2681.

Kia rounded out the top 10, up 4.2 per cent to 1552, just 34 cars ahead of Honda – which will hope the newly-launched and now more competitively-priced Jazz that goes on sale this month will inject new vigour into its sales graphs.

NZ Top 10 Selling brands June 2014
RankBrandSales% Share

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