What price new vehicle registrations in New Zealand in 2017 topping 150,000 units? The numbers in 2016 ended up at 146,753, an all-time high and up 9.5 per cent up on the previous best, the 134,041 registered in 2015.
Motoring industry executives believe there is still room for growth. The market has gone through three years of record numbers and many believe it will keep bubbling along, helped by a strong economy, post-earthquake rebuilds, regional growth, and record demand for rental vehicles from tourist operators.
The reported slowing down of the booming housing market doesn’t faze one industry executive, who didn’t want to be named. There are thousands of examples of home owners getting into new cars by borrowing on the increased equity in their house.
“Even if housing does flatten out, the perceived wealth will carry on,” the executive said. “People won’t instantly think that they don’t have any money. Everywhere is going up; everywhere there is growth. People will still buy cars. Rental companies will still buy cars.”
Visitors to NZ over the next six years are forecast by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to jump by one million or so, from 3.5 million in 2016 to 4.5 million in 2022. More Australians, Americans, Britons, Japanese, Germans will holiday here. Tourists from China will more than double, from around 410,000 last year to 900,000 in 2022.
Registrations of rental vehicles last year jumped by upwards of 20 a week over 2015 numbers. The top 15 rentals alone totaled 13,410 units. Toyotas – Corolla, RAV4, Highlander, Yaris, Camry, HiAce – accounted for 7840, or 58.4 per cent. Next was Holden – Commodore, Trax, Captiva, Barina – with 2530, or 18.8 per cent.
SUVs accounted for 40 per cent of all rentals in 2016, mirroring that of the overall market where they represented 36 per cent. Of the 146,753 registrations last year, 52,913 were SUVs. All other passenger vehicles, say Motor Industry Association (MIA) figures, totaled 51,552, or 35 per cent. Commercials made up 29 per cent. It is the first time SUVs have been the No. 1 choice.
Of the top five passenger models (see listed figures) in 2016, four were SUVs: Toyota RAV4 (3612), Kia Sportage (3061), Mazda CX-5 (2841), Hyundai Tucson (2650). The No. 1 passenger car was the Toyot Corolla; No. 6 was Suzuki Swift.
The best-selling vehicle overall was the Ford Ranger ute, with 8478 registrations, up 24 per cent up on the 6818 in 2015. The company that record the biggest year-on-year growth was South Korean camaker Kia. It registered 5287 new vehicles in 2016 – a 60 per cent hike on the 3290 in 2015, thanks mostly to its Sportage SUV.
Isuzu was another high-flyer. It entered the top 15 nameplates for the first time, with 2640 registrations. Its D-Max ute accounted for 2386 of them, up 40 per cent on the 1696 Isuzu sold in 2015.
Mercedes-Benz made a clean sweep of the luxury sector for the second year running. It sold 2480 passenger vehicles in 2016, putting it 620 units ahead of BMW’s 1860 and 651 ahead of Audi’s 1829.