An instruction to rookie newspaper reporters in newsrooms many years ago went: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” In other words, get your facts straight.
The motoring industry in New Zealand likes to blur facts. The problem with reporting on the strength or otherwise of new vehicle numbers is that there is no public record of actual sales, only registrations.
So, when the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and the Motoring Industry Association (MIA) reported at the beginning of last month that registrations in the first six months of 2018 were slightly up on the record same period in 2017, other facts that the motoring industry likes to keep to itself can’t be ignored.
Among other things, these show how many of those NZTA registrations are so-called “first- or pre-registrations”. That is those vehicles registered with the NZTA by distributors and/or dealers but yet to be sold to an end user.
They might languish in a storage area, on a car yard or be on a distributors’ staff fleet for weeks, months before a genuine buyer gets behind the wheel. Nothing new about the car industry pre-registering new vehicles; most are used as demonstrators and eventually sold at discount.
But such registrations with the NZTA can serve every month to make the new vehicle market look healthier than it actually is. It’s easy to assume that registrations mean sales. Not so.
The industry average for pre-registrations after six months of 2018 was just over 21 per cent, according to official numbers. In other words, two out of every 10 new vehicles to the end of June this year were first registered with the NZTA by the distributor and/or its dealers. But some brands far exceed that average.
Nameplates new to New Zealand often pre-register pretty much every new vehicle to kick-start business. For example, dealers for one relative newcomer, Volkswagen’s Spanish subsidiary Seat, first registered 43 of the 68 passenger cars the NZTA has on its books for January-June. That’s 63.2 per cent.
The established brand that registered most new vehicles to itself at the end of June was BMW. Figures show that of the 1020 BMWs on NZTA books, 58.9 per cent – almost six out of 10 passenger vehicles – were first registered by either BMW’s head office (12) or its dealers (589). Dealers for BMW stablemate Mini pre-registered just under four out of 10, or 39.6 per cent of 379 Mini variants.
Of BMW’s luxury rivals, Volvo and Lexus were pretty much second-equal on the pre-rego list, Volvo with 51.0 per cent and Lexus with 50.6 per cent, or five out of 10 vehicles.
There were 310 Volvos registered with NZTA, including 144 by dealers, 44 by Volvo head office. Lexus had 395 on NZTA books – 169 by dealers, 31 by head office.
Audi was next, with 38.4 per cent, or almost four out of 10. Audi’s dealers registered 408, its head office 2. NZTA’s January-June registrations for Audi total 1068.
Mercedes-Benz followed with 32.2 per cent pre-regos, or just over three out of 10. But that number was based on 1601 registrations, made up of 470 commercials and 1131 passenger cars. Benz dealers registered 438, its head office 77.
Some others, with the number of overall January-June NZTA registrations in the first instance. Take away dealer and head office numbers to reveal private registrations.
Jeep 775 – 43.6% pre-rego, 206 dealer, 132 head office.
Land Rover 551 – 37.6% pre-rego, 171 dealer, 36 head office.
Peugeot 546 – 37.4% pre-rego, 204 dealer, 0 head office.
Volkswagen 2990 – 35.5% pre-rego, 914 dealer, 147 head office
Skoda 821 – 31.2% pre-rego, 172 dealer, 84 head office
Hyundai 4028 – 28.0% pre-rego, 423 dealer, 704 head office
Holden 6413 – 26.9% pre-rego, 1529 dealer, 198 head office
Mitsubishi 5914 – 23.4% pre-rego, 1087 dealer, 299 head office
Isuzu 1455 – 23.2% pre-rego, 180 dealer, 157 head office
Ford 8748 – 22.9% pre-rego, 1388 dealer, 617 head office
Subaru 1822 – 19.0% pre-rego, 304 dealer, 42 head office
Suzuki 3435 – 18.3% pre-rego, 472 dealer, 156 head office
Nissan 4150 – 18.2% pre-rego, 711 dealer, 45 head office
Kia 3650 – 17.5% pre-rego, 584 dealer, 54 head ofdfice
Mazda 6186 – 17.0% pre-rego, 939 dealer, 114 head office
SsangYong 661 – 16.5% pre-rego, 31 dealer, 78 head office
Toyota 13,968 – 12.8% pre-rego, 1491 dealer, 299 head office
Fiat 478 – 12.1% pre-rego, 56 dealer, 2 head office
LDV 1034 – 8.7% pre-rego, 90 dealer, 0 head office
Honda 2804 – 6.0% pre-rego, 64 dealer, 104 head office
- There are reports from the electric vehicle (EV) industry that registrations in New Zealand are accelerating faster than expected. But how many EVs have been pre-registered with the NZTA and are sitting idle without actual end users/buyers?