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NZ Sales: Bumper January biggest on record

High note: The Ford Ranger was again the best-selling light-commercial vehicle in New Zealand last month and it was the second best-selling model overall.

Light-commercial sales boost tally as new passenger car interest drops

4 Feb 2016


BURGEONING light-commercial-vehicle sales continue to bolster the new-vehicle market in New Zealand, which recorded its best January result on record.

New passenger-car sales dropped 1.2 per cent in January over the same month in 2015, to 8899 units, while light commercials rose 12.7 per cent to 2994. The overall total was 11,893 – a 1.9 per cent increase over January last year.

Total used-import sales dropped 0.5 per cent to 12,370 in January, with used-import passenger sales falling one per cent to 11,675 while used-import commercials rose 7.9 per cent to 695.

SUVs took 33 per cent of the New Zealand new-vehicle market in January, followed by pick-ups on 18 per cent and small passenger cars on 16 per cent, three per cent lower than the previous January.

New Zealand’s top-selling model for the month was Toyota Corolla with 719 sales – boosted by 492 rentals – followed by the Ford Ranger (661), Toyota RAV4 (391, 216 of them rentals), Holden Commodore (366, including 195 rentals) and Toyota HiLux (300).

Following was the Mazda3 (293, 150 of them rentals), Holden Colorado (266), Mazda CX-5 (243), Nissan Navara (231) and Hyundai Santa Fe (227, including 50 rentals) rounding out the top 10.

Motor Industry Association CEO David Crawford said he did not expect the record level to continue for the rest of the year.

“While new vehicle sales for 2016 have started where they left off in 2015, the remainder of 2016 is expected to slightly soften as the year progresses,” he said.

Toyota continues to lead New Zealand sales by a generous margin, although its January haul dropped by 6.9 per cent to 2243 compared to the same month in 2015, which was itself a 31.6 per cent rise over January 2014.

Toyota NZ general manager sales and operations Steve Prangnell said a lot of rental volume went into January last year, which did not happen this year.

“We were 60 units ahead of forecast, we’re spot-on our runway,” he told GoAuto, adding that he expects the market to ease back this year.

“Fuel prices are down, but it’s a double-edged sword. People are less concerned with the cost of motoring, but it’s having a massive global impact on share markets.”

Ford benefited from a muscular shot in the arm, with sales rising by 43.5 per cent, or 438 units, to 1444, thanks in part to interest in the newly-arrived Mustang pony car.

Ford delivered 130 Mustangs in January and has taken 750 orders, pushing deliveries for new sales out to September.

The Blue Oval also cited customer interest in its refreshed model line-up, especially the latest Mondeo mid-sizer and updated Focus small car.

GM Holden dropped 18.1 per cent to 1244 units, but January 2015 had been an exceptional month for the brand, with numbers up 47.2 per cent over 2014 thanks to a strong month for rentals.

The car-maker's managing director Kristian Aquilina said he was happy with how resilient sales have been in the face of some negative economic news.

“We expect some of that will flow through to reduced demand, but so far it’s holding up pretty well,” he said.

Mr Aquilina said the New Zealand economy is doing what it should do, which is helping new-car sales.

“The adjustments that are happening, be it through exchange rates and monetary policy or other naturally occurring moves, it’s working, and it’s an example of a strong and efficient economy in which other areas are picking up and taking advantage of a stronger situation for them when traditional areas are suffering from challenging headwinds.”

Mr Aquilina was referring to a drop in milk prices, down to $NZ4.60 ($A4.28) per kg of milk solids – around half the payout of two years ago – which is making headlines, while less high-profile export segments are doing well, but he also cited predicted exchange-rate movement which he expects will lead to an increase in the cost of cars.

Mazda registrations rose 19.1 per cent to 961, while Nissan fell 7.3 per cent to 725.

Nissan NZ managing director John Manley said supply issues for the Qashqai crossover were a factor, with the boat filled with stock due to arrive this month.

Mr Manley said the market was buoyed by rental sales thanks to tourism numbers.

“It’s pumping out there, which is sensational.”

he said. “Air New Zealand is talking dramatic price drops on some sectors as a significant part of your ticket is attributed to fuel costs.”“They talk about dairy pricing, but within the next few yeas wine imports are expected to reach two billion per year&hellip.”

Hyundai dropped 22.4 per cent to 631, and Mitsubishi registrations fell 5.2 per cent to 560, the brand’s first drop in monthly sales over the same month the previous year for six years.

Mitsubishi NZ head of sales and marketing strategy Daniel Cook said the drop was caused entirely by stock supply.

“We were short for most of our key models thanks to huge global demand for ASX, Outlander and Pajero Sport,” he said.

Mr Cook also told GoAuto that oversale of Triton in the last quarter of 2015 left Mitsubishi very short on stock, especially of two-wheel drive variants and added that it should return to normal for February.

He said he does not expect dairy prices to impact sales too much, despite the media flurry.

“On the one hand you have dairy down something like 18 million, but apple exporters alone are up around 12 million.” Volkswagen fell 3.9 per cent to 463, while Suzuki sales rose 11.1 per cent to 379 on the back of the new Vitara compact SUV.

Suzuki NZ general manager of motor vehicles Garry Collins confirmed it took 98 sales for the new model introduced in September, with dealers reporting “good levels of inquiry”.

Honda rounded out the top 10, down 4.2 per cent to 341 units.

Overall, LCVs and SUVs are significantly impacting sales by company.

Car-makers such as Suzuki, Hyundai and Honda without a ute cannot play in a large segment of the New Zealand market, while smaller players with a strong ute and SUV line-up pull sales from players with a wider range of models on offer.

SsangYong – which sells largely SUVs and utes in New Zealand – saw sales up 26.3 per cent to 202, and Isuzu sold 160 D-Maxes, 60 more than Mazda’s BT-50 and 97 ahead of Volkswagen’s Amarok.

NZ Top 10 makes January 2016
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