However you slice and dice the numbers the luxury vehicle segment in New Zealand is at its most competitive for some years, helped by the overall hot sales market and the expanded range of new models.
Motor Industry Association figures for September had the main players – Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz – neck-and-neck on sales of passenger vehicles (cars and SUVS): Audi 184, BMW 181, Mercedes-Benz 180. Over nine months to the end of September, Audi had sold 1602 passenger vehicles, BMW 1597, and Mercedes-Benz 1436.
Go back to the end of September 2013. Audi had sold 1453 cars and SUVs in nine months, BMW 1517, and Mercedes-Benz 1119. The comparison shows Audi sales in 2014 to the end of last month were up 149 units over 2013; BMW was up 80 units and Mercedes-Benz 317.
Therein lies the sales growth Mercedes-Benz NZ chief Ben Giffin forecast late last year once new 2014 models like the CLA, GLA and C-Class made it into the market. In a nutshell, Mercedes-Benz passenger car sales so far in 2014 are up roughly 30 per cent on last year. Audi is up around 10 per cent and BMW 5 per cent.
Giffin expects further growth next year when the current model range is joined by new variants, including the GLC (see spy pictures here), a mid-range SUV to rival the BMW X3 and Audi Q5. “It’s been the SUV segment where we have been lacking,” he said. “The GLC will make a significant difference.”
The GLC will introduce a new naming structure for Mercedes-Benz SUV models, one designed to reflect the family of cars to which the SUVs belong. It began this year with the GLA, a front- and four-wheel-drive compact SUV related to the A-Class hatchback.
Next year’s GLC belongs to the C-Class family. The new ML-Class is expected to be badged the GLE, again because it is part of the E-Class clan. The bigger GL-Class will almost certainly be called the GLS, reflecting its membership of the flagship S-Class elite.
The new handles won’t stop with the SUVs. The replacement for the SLK soft-top sports car is based on the C-Class platform and therefore is likely to be badged the SLC.
- MIA records show new-vehicle sales in September totalled 11,840 units, made up of 3458 light commercials and 8382 passenger cars. It was the strongest September since 1986. Said MIA chief executive David Crawford: “Healthy economic confidence combined with competitive pricing is fuelling strong demand for new vehicles. If sales keep at this level it could over 124,000 new registrations for 2014, exceeding the previous best year of 123,247 new registrations in 1984”. The Toyota Corolla was the best-seller in September with 629 new registrations, followed by the Ford Ranger (595) and Toyota Hilux (526). Mazda NZ had its best-ever month with 783 sales for a 6.6 per cent share of the market.