Sales of new vehicles for the first two months of 2015 were up 10 per cent on the same period last year, a reflection of the strong New Zealand economy, say motoring observers.
It was the strongest February on record for light commercial sales, and the strongest February since 1989 for new passenger vehicles. Some would say the motoring industry is heading for another boomer sales year, perhaps rivalling last year’s 127,000 units.
But who’s buying these vehicles? Where are they going? The Motor Industry Association says 20,699 passenger and light commercials vehicles were registered in the first two months of 2015: 11,234 in January and 9479 in February. That’s 20,713 by our reckoning, 20,699 by the MIA’s.
Arithmetic aside, MIA-recorded registrations for two months were thus: 7062 private sales, 10,541 business, 612 government, 2484 rentals. That’s roughly 34 per cent private, 51 per cent business, 3 per cent government, 12 per cent rental.
Another equation: business, government and rental sales accounted for 66 per cent of new vehicle business in the first two months, or two out of every three new registrations.
It’s been that way for years in New Zealand. It’s a nation of small businesses. The ANZ bank says 96 per cent of businesses here employ fewer than 20 people. A few vehicles here and there for each business and a 51 per cent share of the car market adds up.
How about rental sales? Take a look at two of the big names, Toyota and Holden. Typically, the price rental agencies pay for vehicles is far removed from the ‘recommended retail’ ticket. Buy back agreements come in here too. That’s why rentals find their way back into the used car or auction markets after only a few months on the road, usually with no more than 45,000km on the clock. Often it’s far fewer kms.
Toyota had sold 3960 new vehicles to the end of February, of which 1244 were rentals. Therefore 31.5 per cent of Toyota’s new vehicle sales already this year will soon be ex-rentals. Of the 1094 Toyota Corollas registered in January and February, 606 were rentals. That means 55 per cent of new Corollas will also soon be ex-rentals.
Similar percentage with the Toyota RAV4. At the end of last month 637 RAV4s had been registered. Of those 341, or 53.5 per cent, were rentals. Around 42 per cent – 188/450 – of Toyota Yaris sales were to rental agencies. Most of the Toyota Highlanders sold in 2015 have been rentals, too.
In the first two months of 2015 Holden had sold 2489 new vehicles, of which 683, or 27.5 per cent, were rentals. Of the 649 Commodore registrations, 330 went to the rental market. That means 51 per cent of Commodores sold new in the first two months of 2015 will be sold as ex-rentals before the Super 15 rugby competition is finished. Most of the Holden Trax sales this year have been rentals.
Rental sales boomed in January when around 2000 – or almost 20 per cent of all new vehicle registrations that month – went to agencies. In February 370 vehicles went to the hire car industry. Last year it was 12,794, or an average 10 per cent of total new vehicle registrations. Of course rentals sold new last March, for example, were back on the used market by July.
There is a widening gap between registrations and actual sales. And there’s graphic evidence of a continued over-supply of vehicles into NZ. But that’s an ongoing story.
Meantime, Toyota was the overall market leader for February with 16 per cent market share (1552 units) followed by Ford with 10 per cent (977) and Holden also with 10 per cent (971).
Toyota topped passenger car sales with a 13 per cent share (905 units), follwed by Holden with 11 per cent (765) and Hyundai with 10 per cent (694). Toyota also headed commercial sales with 23 per cent (647), followed by Ford with 16 per cent (463) and Nissan with 9 per cent (266).
The top-selling car in February was the Toyota Corolla (302 units); the leading commercial was the Toyota Hilux (427). Sports utility vehicles (SUVs) accounted for 32 per cent of February registrations; pick-ups/cab-chassis had 20 per cent, and small passenger cars 15 per cent.