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NZ sales: Commercials stay strong in August

Jazz fest: Honda's new-generation Jazz was the fifth best-selling car in New Zealand in August with 265 sales.

Upcoming general election yet to have an impact on New Zealand new-car sales

8 Sep 2014

UPDATED: 9/09/2014NEW ZEALAND'S rapidly approaching general election has so far had little impact on the country's new vehicle sales, with August figures showing registrations are up eight per cent over the same period last year.

Passenger car sales rose 3.7 per cent last month to 7083 units as SUVs made strong gains with sales up 33.1 per cent to 3010.

Light commercial utes were up by 7.6 per cent to 1942, but vans grew by 35.6 per cent to 560 units.

The overall tally for New Zealand sales last month, including heavy commercial vehicles, was 13,074 units.

Motor Industry Association chief executive officer David Crawford said light commercial sales of 3106 were the strongest August result since 1981, when the MIA began collecting records for commercial registrations.

“Year to date sales of new commercial vehicles are at an unprecedented level, at 21 per cent (4,148 units) above 2013,” he said. “If this trend continues it is possible total commercial vehicle sales for 2014 could exceed a staggering 36,000 units, which would be the highest ever annual total by just a little over 5000 units”.

Utes and SUVs continue to be popular, with Ford’s Ranger the top-seller in August on 548 new registrations, followed by Toyota Corolla, registering 469, of which 175 were rentals.

The Toyota Hilux (413) placed third, in front of the Holden Commodore (314, of which 35 were rentals) and Honda's new-generation Jazz (265) that launched last in July.

The current trend for SUVs and utes has proved a bonus for niche South Korean brand SsangYong, which sells a five-model ute and SUV-only range, yet managed to rank 14th overall in August, for two per cent of the total market.

But it was Toyota at the top with a 17 per cent share, up 10.3 per cent to 1169 units.

Toyota NZ CEO Alistair Davis says the expected slowdown in the lead-up to the election is later than expected and while Toyota is short of its August target, retail sales were higher.

Mr Davis told GoAuto that a relatively uncontentious election is expected to impact sales less than usual, in part because the economy remains reasonably robust.

“The prices of imported goods have been falling which has kept the market growing more strongly than the economy is growing,” he said.

“That might ease back as commodity prices fall, but it won’t fall far. Fonterra is above its 10-year average with dairy receipts, and the correction expected for dairy prices isn’t expected to have much effect. I still think this will be the best year we’ve had for 30 years.”

Ford's sales rose 8.5 per cent to 1130 units and the company's managing director Corey Holter said that feedback from the dealers suggested that the month got stronger as it went on, adding that commercial vehicles were on the rise.

“I’m hesitant to suggest we’ll see an election effect,” he said. “The market among tradies is still strong and the October dairy payout remains high. We’re calling a record market this year north of 126,000.

“As for the election, we’ll have to see how decisive it is, and how long the period of coalition-forming. If the result is quick and decisive, we don’t expect much impact.”

Holden tallied third for August on 1110, up four per cent, while Hyundai registrations were up by 19.1 per cent.

Hyundai NZ managing director Andy Sinclair said this reflected the brand’s strong SUV range, and with over 200 sales going to the ix35 compact SUV.

SUVs make up by far the strongest segment, with 30 per cent of all sales in August, followed by utes at 19 per cent and small passenger cars at 16 per cent. Mr Sinclair says he’s revised his total market estimate up by 3000 and now expects it to hit 123,000 by year end.

Mazda figures were up 11.3 per cent to 630 while fellow Japanese car-maker Mitsubishi rose 6.3 per cent to 574.

At the bottom end of the sales charts, the news was not as good. Nissan sat seventh after its sales dropped 11 per cent to 447, followed by Volkswagen, down 22.7 per cent to 422, while Honda was down 18.1 per cent to 372 – with new Jazz taking 265 of that total.

Suzuki rounded out the top 10, down four per cent to 360 sales.

NZ Top 10 makes August 2014
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