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NZ Sales: Registrations hit new records

Coroll-ing along: Toyota topped passenger car sales in New Zealand in September with the Corolla, while Ford’s Ranger pipped the outgoing HiLux for the top spot overall.

Sales stay buoyant ahead of predicted price hikes as exchange rate dents dollar

5 Oct 2015

THE rate of growth has slowed for New Zealand new-vehicle sales, but numbers are still climbing steadily, thanks in part to forecasts that prices are set to rise as exchange-rate concerns hit the Kiwi dollar.

Last month was the strongest September on record, with 8835 passenger-car registrations (up 5.4 per cent) and 3639 commercial registrations (up 5.2 per cent) totting up to 12,474 sales for the month.

Year-to-date sales rose 5118 units to 99,557 overall, a lift of 5.4 per cent over the same period last year.

Motor Industry Association chief executive officer David Crawford said New Zealand was headed for another record sales year in 2015.

“If registrations of new vehicles continue at the pace of the first nine months of the year, the industry will easily break the 130,000 unit barrier in 2015 for the first time ever,” he said.

Mr Crawford suggested people are buying while retail sales are in full swing, getting in before the falling value of the NZ dollar adds to the bottom line of imported vehicles.

SUVs continue to be the dominant segment, holding 33 per cent market share so far this year, followed by the ute segment at 21 per cent.

Ute models, however, hold four of the five top spots in the sales charts. The Ford Ranger is New Zealand’s favourite vehicle so far this year with 4967 sales, followed by the outgoing Toyota HiLux (4178), Toyota Corolla (4058, of which 1609 were rentals), Holden Colorado (2711) and Nissan Navara (2507).

Holden’s Commodore lies sixth with 2124 (including 747 rentals), while Mazda’s CX-5 (1921), Toyota HiAce (1896 including 401 rentals), Mazda3 (1866, 332 rentals) and Hyundai iX35 (1845) round out the top ten.

Toyota retains a healthy market lead in New Zealand, with 18,169 sales so far this year, up 8.8 per cent for 18.2 per cent market share.

Toyota New Zealand’s general manager of sales and operations Steve Prangnell said retail sales exceeded targeted forecasts, while there is still fleet business to be accessed.

He said although the LandCruiser is in run-out ahead of the launch of a facelifted model next month, Toyota is concentrating on a fast-paced HiLux run-out with a month of retail stock to go, and a mid-November launch for the first full model change for HiLux in almost ten years.

The positive effects of the Christchurch rebuild have slowed, according to Mr Prangnell, though he still notes demand from several big projects in Auckland, the country’s biggest city.

Tourism, an industry that, according to Mr Prangnell, nearly matches dairy in GDP terms, is on the increase, and demand for rental fleets will be high as the high season approaches.

As the NZ dollar drops, the country becomes a more attractive tourist destination. Rental companies traditionally place orders at the start of the year for September-October delivery, but several are looking for additional numbers.

Meanwhile, expanding ripples from “the diesel brouhaha” – Volkswagen’s diesel emissions cheating scandal – could mean an opportunity from a hybrid perspective.

Mr Prangnell said that the Camry hybrid is the choice for taxis, while there are other mainstream hybrids on the horizon, and there is the opportunity to conquer corporates that have had a diesel option on their books.

GM Holden holds second by a slim margin, with its sales standing at 10,331 so far this year, up 4.6 per cent on the first nine months of 2014.

Holden NZ general sales manager Sean Tupp expects the Ford-Toyota battle in the light-commercial segment to go into the final quarter, but he reckons the Colorado could hold its own in the skirmish for the year-end podium.

Mr Tupp is looking forward to the launch of VF Commodore Series II, with vehicles landing for next month the large car bracket may be a shrinking segment, but Commodore still holds the lion’s share.

“Everyone’s coming under pressure with the exchange rate,” he told GoAuto. “I know we are, and there comes a point you have to price for it.” Mr Tupp said the positivity from better dairy payouts to the rural sector has not hit the market as yet, but equally some less-than-positive economic indicators haven’t impacted, either.

“We may see some flattening into next year,” he warned.

Ford sales dropped 0.8 per cent to 10,147, in same month that the facelifted and re-engineered new Ranger was launched. Ford NZ managing director Corey Holter said the brand will launch seven new products this year – five in the last months of 2015 alone – ending with the hotly anticipated Mustang in November, which could drive showroom traffic.

Mazda sales rose 23.8 per cent to 7521, while Hyundai was up 0.2 per cent to 6514. Mitsubishi lifted numbers by 7.9 per cent to 6298, while Nissan sales rose 7.4 per cent to 6014.

Volkswagen sales do not appear to be suffering yet from ‘dieselgate’, with sales down just 0.9 per cent to 4072, although general manager Tom Ruddenklau reports buyers are already suspending purchasing decisions as they see how the story plays out.

Suzuki sales dropped 12.1 per cent to 3311, and Honda rounded out the top 10, its steadily selling Jazz helping to sales lift 7.0 per cent to 2888 overall.

NZ Top 10 makes September 2015 2318
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NZ Top 10 makes YTD end September 2015
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