Three results from October sales stand out in what is shaping as a record year for new vehicles: Mitsubishi numbers are running around 20 per cent up on last year and 42 per cent on 2010; Hyundai will finish in the top three for passenger cars for the second year running; and the Ford Ranger will unseat the Toyota Hilux as the country’s long-standing workhorse of choice.
Motor Industry Association figures to the end of October show Mitsubishi sales have zoomed ahead in 2014. In 10 months it had sold 6393 units, up 1323 sales, or 20.7 per cent, on the 5070 for the same period last year. Back in 2010, coming out of the GFC, it sold 3716 vehicles in 10 months.
MIA chief executive David Crawford says healthy economic confidence combined with competitive pricing is fuelling strong demand for new vehicles, factors backed by BNZ head of economic research Stephen Toplis. Toplis told a MIA meeting: “The long-run price of new vehicles in real terms continues to improve. Over the last 20 years the consumer price index has increased by 57 per cent, while the real price of vehicles has decreased by 22.5 per cent, a difference of nearly 78 per cent compared with 1994”.
To last month, Hyundai had sold 6572 passenger cars in 2014 against Ford’s 5905 – a lead of 667 units with two months left in the year. At this time last year, Hyundai had sold 6118 cars and Ford 5895. The battle continued over the last two months of 2013 before Hyundai emerged the passenger car winner with 7179 sales against Ford’s 7134. Hyundai has now pretty much cemented its third place in passenger cars in 2014 behind Holden in second and leader Toyota. Overall Hyundai sales are up 8 per cent on 2013. It is fourth on the sales charts, as it was at this time last year.
In the commercial segment to the end of last month, Ford had sold 5061 Rangers to Toyota’s 4778 Hiluxes – a lead of 283 units. At the end of October 2013, Hilux led Ranger 3998 sales to 3870. The overall 2013 result went the way of Hilux too, with 5041 sales against Ranger’s 4924. But Ranger has clawed its way ahead this year. Unless Toyota produces a truck-load of Hilux registrations over the next two months, Ranger will end Hilux’s almost 30-year reign as New Zealand’s No. 1 commercial vehicle.
Therein lies another, more expansive story. Ranger is absolutely vital to things Ford. It alone accounted for almost 44 per cent of Ford’s overall 11,582 sales to the end of October. In contrast, Hilux made up 24 per cent of Toyota’s 19,793 units. Last year, Ranger accounted for 38 per cent of overall Ford sales; Hilux represented 21 per cent of Toyota’s.
This percentage difference is not lost on industry watchers, although Ford’s reliance on Ranger sales is expected to taper off next year with the arrival of the new Mondeo and Focus range. That could mean advantage Hilux all over again, although the new Hilux is not expected until late in 2015.
Sales last month showed the new-vehicle market is on target for a record year. October’s 12,023 units (8910 passenger and 3113 commercial) were the strongest October since MIA records began in 1975. Total sales for 2014 until the end of October were at 106,582, an average of 10,685 a month. Said the MIA’s Crawford: “Not only are distributors of new vehicles closing in fast on total sales of 113,297 units for all of 2013, they are also on track to exceed the highest ever annual total for new registrations, which were 123,247 units in 1984”.
As usual Toyota is the main player, but its overall sales of 19,793 units at the end of October were up only 735 vehicles, or 3.7 per cent, on the 19,058 sales it recorded over 10 months of 2013. Ford’s 11,582 sales to the end of October were up 9.7 per cent on the 10,452 units for the same period last year. Of the top three, Holden has been the big mover in 2014 in percentage terms – its 11,093 units until the end of last month were up 13.2 per cent on the 9621 until October 2013.
Mercedes-Benz is the high-flyer among the luxury badges, helped by its commercial arm. It had sold 2139 units at the end of last month, up 21.3 per cent on last year’s 1677 units. Of those 2139 sales, 1570 were passenger cars, an increase of 19 per cent on the 1270 it had sold in 10 months of last year. Its German rivals rely solely on passenger car numbers. BMW sales of 1796 to the end of last month were up 6.1 per cent on 1686 units last year. Audi is running hotter – its 1775 sales were up 10.7 per cent on the 1585 for the same period last year.
The top 15 passenger cars at the end of October were the Toyota Corolla (5092) Holden Commodore (2548), Suzuki Swift (2240), Mazda3 (2025), Mazda CX-5 (2013), Toyota Yaris (1966), Toyota RAV4 (1959), Holden Captiva (1869), Hyundai IX35 (1614), Hyundai Santa Fe ( 1598), Toyota Highlander (1567), Volkswagen Golf (1509), Honda Jazz (1508), Ford Focus (1484), Holden Cruze (1476).
Small vehicles occupied 18 per cent of the market at the end of last month, light 12 per cent, pick up/cab chassis 20 per cent, and SUVs 29 per cent. Medium and large cars had a 5 and 4 per cent share respectively.