NEW Zealand’s new-vehicle market is now trending downward in parallel with Australia’s softer conditions, recording a 6.0 per cent fall in January compared to the first month of trading in 2018.
Coming off its fifth consecutive record annual sales result, with the Kiwi car industry posting 161,770 sales last year, the January result of 13,938 new-vehicle registrations is 896 fewer than a year ago but still marks the second-highest total ever recorded for the first month of the calendar year.
“As 2019 gets underway, the economic environment that existed this time last year and before that has begun to fundamentally change, albeit slowly,” NZ Motor Industry Association chief executive David Crawford said.
“However, levels of new-vehicle sales, while softer than this time last year, remain at historically high levels.”
Marking an end of five consecutive years of record January sales, New Zealand’s major vehicle categories were all down last month, with combined passenger car and SUV sales falling 7.9 per cent to 9942 sales, and light-commercial vehicles were down 1.0 per cent, to 3996 units.
There were mixed fortunes among the leading players, with Toyota remaining the clear market leader on 2312 vehicle sales and a 16.6 per cent market share, but its sales volume was down a significant 29.2 per cent – and its share at this point last year was 22.0 per cent.
Ford maintained its position as the nation’s number-two brand, but the Blue Oval’s sales were also down 9.7 per cent, to 1494 sales.
As was the case in Australia, Mitsubishi was a standout performer that turned its back on the prevailing winds, posting 1248 sales for the month in New Zealand to claim third place. This was more than 300 units than it managed a year ago, marking a 32.2 per cent improvement.
Mazda also bucked the trend, pushing up past Holden to fourth position in the marketplace with 1215 sales – up 1.5 per cent – while GMH finished the month with 1042 sales, 120 fewer than last January for a 10.3 per cent slip.
Kia maintained its position just outside the top five with 710 sales for the month, down 6.8 per cent, holding off Nissan by just two units as the Japanese brand posted 708 sales for a result that was lineball with last January (+0.1%).
Rounding out the top 10 was Hyundai on 627 sales, up 1.6 per cent and enough for eighth place, while Suzuki recorded 597 sales (+0.2%).
Volkswagen also had a solid month, with its 473 sales earning it a place in the top 10 as Honda, on 450 units, fell 14.1 per cent.
Also just outside the top 10 was Mercedes-Benz (331), while the other two notable brands with volume around the 200-unit mark were Isuzu (201) and Land Rover (179).
Mid-size SUVs were the most popular vehicles in New Zealand last month, with 2203 sales, while compact SUVs were not far behind on 2203. Together, they accounted for 30.4 per cent of the entire market, and throw in large SUVs (1754) and luxury SUVs (91) and the 6078 combined total reflects a 43.6 per cent share for the high-riding class.
As the third-biggest segment, 4×4 pick-ups/cab-chassis recorded 1921 sales last month, and combined with 4x2s (1129) – the latter coming in at number six behind the mainstream SUV classes, 4×4 utes and small cars – the tray-backed utilities posted more than 3000 sales (3050) for a 21.9 per cent share of the overall market.
Among passenger cars, there were 1714 small cars sold last month, and 1126 light cars, while mid-size cars were further back on 389 units.
MIA figures also show that 457 heavy commercial vehicles were sold, 362 vans, 284 large cars, 177 sportscars, 78 people-movers, 70 micro cars and 39 light buses.
Among individual models, the Australian-developed Ford Ranger continued on its merry way as New Zealand’s Most Wanted with 837 sales for the month, up 17.4 per cent on January last year.
It was followed by the Toyota Corolla (669, of which 428 were rental purchases), Mitsubishi Triton (445), Toyota HiLux (434), Mazda CX-5 (364), Suzuki Swift (351), Mitsubishi ASX (347, with 225 rentals), Kia Sportage (339), Nissan Navara (338) and, rounding out the top 10 and making it five utes in the mix, the Holden Colorado (335).
NZ top 10 makes January 2019
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