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NZ Sales: Records fall in bumper 2014

Range topper: Ford's Australian designed and engineered Ranger ended the Toyota HiLux's incredible 32-year run as New Zealand's favourite ute in 2014.

New-car sales hit an all-time high in New Zealand as Corolla tops the charts again

13 Jan 2015


NEW ZEALAND'S new-vehicle registrations hit an all-time high in 2014 with the 127,179 total topping the previous best tally of 123,247 units back in 1984.

Motor Industry Association (MIA) chief executive David Crawford said the result was a 12.4 per cent increase, or 14,062 units, over and above the 2013 result, while a number of other records fell in 2014.

“Within this year’s record total, several other records were broken,” he said.

“The first of these is the most number of commercial vehicles sold in any one year of 36,662 units which overtook the previous record set in 2013 of 30,822 units, an increase of 19.0% (5,840 units).”

Used imports are also up, and while they did not hit records, the 2014 tally of 137,868 marked a 31.2 per cent increase over 2013.

Toyota was dominant last year, leading overall with 24,692 sales for the year, up 4.2 per cent for a 19.4 per cent market share.

The Japanese car-maker led the light-commercial market on 8446 sales, which equates to a 23 per cent share of that segment, ahead of Ford (7065 units, 19 per cent) and Holden (3198, nine per cent).

Toyota also led the rental market, sold New Zealand’s favourite model – the Corolla retailing 3046 units – and claimed five of the country’s 10 top-selling new models.

However, Toyota NZ general manager sales and operations Steve Prangnell told GoAuto he was was not mourning the fact that the HiLux slipped behind rival Ford's Ranger in the sales charts, ending a 32-year run as the country's favourite ute.

“The funny thing is for us, in our 10th year of the model cycle, we sold the most HiLuxes than we’ve ever sold, we were fighting with one hand behind our back as we have too many product gaps in two-wheel drive, with no auto and no SR5,” he said. “We exceeded all our targets with it and it’s still number one four-wheel drive unit in NZ.”

Mr Prangnell said 2014 marked Toyota’s third sales record in a row and exceeded its internal targets for the year.

He added that the brand’s strength is its reputation in the New Zealand market, and praised the efforts of his team in ensuring a strong result.

“We’re the only automotive brand in the top 10 in the Reader Digest polls. We don’t just take a shotgun approach. We don’t just chase a big number. We take each model, set targets in private and fleet and rental, we target model by model and segment by segment which is why we build on our volume.

“The down side is you fight many sales battles on many fronts as it’s a different competitor in each segment. Yaris chases Swift, HiLux is against Ranger and Navara.

“Because we have such a wide base, for us to be up four per cent, that’s close to 1000 cars. We’ve logged 27 years of market leadership. We have 70 to 80 per cent of our staff who have never known us not to be number one.”

As for the overall tally, Mr Prangnell said there were a number of key reasons the NZ market remained so strong in 2014.

“The strength of our commodity pricing overseas, especially dairy prices. The Christchurch rebuild – infrastructure business is at maximum capacity, they are struggling to get staff and their fleets are fully utilised. And residual effect from the tsunami etc, as supply came back on stream.”

The top 10 best-selling brands remained almost unchanged for 2014, with Ford in second after creeping up up 9.3 per cent to 14,033.

Ford NZ managing director Corey Holter said the same fundamentals were still driving the market – construction, immigration, and business and consumer confidence.

“The dairy payout helped push commercials to its record, and we were a strong beneficiary with Ranger,” he said.

Mr Holter said Ford's growth was slower than the overall rate on the back of some ageing passenger models.

“Falcon, Territory and Mondeo are all in run-out with new models available in quarter one, and Falcon released this week to dealers. We are excited about 2015 with seven launches, of which six are passenger cars, so we see it as an opportunity to grow our passenger share.”

Holden stayed in third, rising 14.5 per cent to 13,422, with Hyundai in fourth, up seven per cent to 8309.

Mazda sales lifted 14.5 per cent to 8128, with the company's NZ managing director Andrew Clearwater putting part of its growth down to the value of new cars.

“Because of the strength of the Kiwi dollar,” he said. “Dealers tell you it’s hard work with late-model used cars now as people can borrow money cheaply, and easily upgrade to a new car with all its benefits.

“As we start to get those younger buyers coming into the marketplace, they have quite a different attitude to the older buyer and we’ll see more of what’s happening in Australia, with more financing and folk working it into their budget.”

Like most of the industry, Mr Clearwater expects growth to plateau this year, or grow only slowly, depending on how dairy farmers react to a lower payout.

He expects Mazda to continue to be strong in 2015 with an upgrade for the CX-5 SUV and Mazda6 mid-sizer, as well as the CX-3 that enters a new segment for the Japanese car-maker.

Mitsubishi at 7526 sales was the fastest-growing of the mass-market brands, up 25.3 per cent to displace Nissan from sixth position.

The company’s NZ head of sales and marketing strategy Daniel Cook said he expected more modest growth in 2015.

“Dairy farmers won’t get the same payouts and they have been a strong backbone, though the flipside is sheep and beef farmers are doing well,” he said.

Mr Cook said Outlander Plug-In Hybrid has driven a lot of enquiry, which has led to sales of other models.

“We have strong growth expectation next year, with a few model updates and new models spread throughout the year, and I don’t think we’ve reached our potential with current models.” Nissan rose 11.7 per cent to 7157, while Volkswagen plateaued, up 0.1 per cent to 5223, followed by Suzuki, up 0.2 per cent to 4828.

Suzuki NZ general manager of marketing Tom Peck, said the dollar was, prompting some big discounting from its competitors, while sharp competition has also played a part.

“There was a lot of new model action especially in our segments, with new Jazz selling well, Toyota pushing hard with Yaris, and more product in the light category than there used to be, along with sharp prices, with some Euros now at the 20 grand mark,” he said.

Suzuki did maintain the top-selling light car in the country with its Swift hatch taking top spot for the 10th year in a row.

Honda rounded out the top 10, up 13.8 per cent to 3554, largely on the back of the new-generation Jazz, which performed above expectations. The company's NZ sales and marketing manager Nadine Bell said 46 per cent of Jazz registrations were conquest sales, with 73 per cent of those sales not coming from the micro segment.

The luxury market grew ahead of trend, with BMW crossing 2000 sales for the first time for a final tally of 2126, up 11.5 per cent and just ahead of Audi, which rose 14 per cent to 2075. Mercedes-Benz hit 1811 passenger units, for a 2592 total, including commercial sales.

Audi NZ general manager Dean Sheed said the luxury market has been up all year, which he added was fueled by the economy and by “a greater range of product and at better value-for-money pricing”.

“GDP is high yet again, senior executives have faith in the economy and Euro brands are launching a wider range of vehicles, he said. “Look at A3 sedan – another 140 sales in an area we’ve not sold in before, the new models Mercedes has launched, Porsche with the Macan. I see the luxury market still growing next year, there’s no sign it’s hit a ceiling.

“Last year saw a 20 per cent lift for the luxury segment and I think it will outgrow the mainstream again, and increase by about 15 per cent. The luxury segment is a leading indicator. There’s a strong correlation to GDP. People who buy luxury products own businesses. If the economy is working they are the first to pull the cheque book out, and the first to put it down again, so it’s a good barometer.”

In terms of New Zealand’s favourite models, Toyota's Corolla topped the charts on 6469, followed by Ford Ranger (6330), Toyota HiLux (5774), Holden Commodore (3001), Holden Colorado (2948), Suzuki Swift (2685), Toyota RAV4 (2562), Toyota Yaris (2557), Nissan Navara (2525) and Toyota HiAce (2443).

MIA CEO Mr Crawford said SUV's continued to be the strongest selling segment with 29 per cent of all vehicles sales in December – and 29 per cent for the year – followed by light commercial utes with 22 per cent (20 per cent for the year) and small passenger cars at 17 per cent (18 per cent for the year).

“The outlook for 2015 is for another strong year, but the MIA does not anticipate significant growth over 2014 volumes, more likely a small to modest increase anticipating sales of new vehicles to be around 127,000 to 128,000.

Continued strong sales in the light commercial sector is anticipated.”NZ Top 10 makes Decemeber 2014
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NZ Top 10 makes to year end 2014
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