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NZ registrations versus actual sales: it’s a game of numbers

on April 11 2016 | in Industry news, Latest news | by | with Comments Off

The BMW press release was a trumpet cry: We’re the greatest, it said. The number one premium marque in New Zealand with 591 units registered in the first quarter of 2016.

Wow! Number one in the same month as its 100th birthday, too. Life for BMW surely couldn’t get any better. It went on: Mini, its stablemate, the ‘world’s most iconic small car brand’, also opened the year in ‘strong fashion’ with 169 registrations.

That’s a combined 760 registrations out of the same building. All recorded in New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) books. Boy, people must be queueing up for BMWs and Minis. Heavens, when will demand slow down?

It gets better. NZTA and Motor Industry Association (MIA) figures for the first three months of 2016 have 592 registrations for BMW and 172 for Mini – one extra BMW and three extra Minis. Who’s right?

No big deal. It’s a number’s game. But wait on. Hit the draft key. There’s a WORLD of DIFFERENCE between registrations and actual sales. It’s a sleight of hand, a nod and a wink.

Those 592 BMW registrations? Well, 327 of them, or 55.2 per cent, were first done by BMW dealers. Same with Mini – its dealers did 96 of the 172 registrations, or 55.8 per cent. The MIA figures are clear.

That means 423 out of 764 BMWs and Minis, or 55.3 per cent, registered in the first quarter of 2016 were done so not by the people who are buying them, the end user, but the people who are selling them.

Are the 423 BMWs and Minis still sitting on dealers’ yards, to be sold in another month or two at a demonstrator discount?

Nothing wrong with that – it’s what distributors and dealers do. Have done for years. They are known as first or pre-registrations. They allow salesmen to say, ‘Boy, have we got a deal for you. It’s a demo. Hardly driven. Only a few kays on the clock.’

Most industry executives say the more pre-registrations a carmaker logs, the more they devalue their brand. Some go as far to say that a new car pre-registered by a dealer in January, for example, and sold with a few kays on the clock in April, is essentially second-hand.

The average punter thinks of registrations as sales. Pre-registrations falsely inflate numbers, especially when the NZTA and MIA talk up record years.

Take last year, for example. Just over 134,000 new vehicles were registered. Whee! An all-time boomer year for registrations. Isn’t the economy on fire, said the NZTA and MIA.

But 26,000, or just over 19 per cent, of the 134,000 vehicles were pre-registrations. That’s more than 500 a week in 2015. Registered by dealers and distributors before they are sold.

Again the figures are clear. Are these vehicles from last year still sitting in distributor HQ parking lots or on dealers’ yards, months after they were registered? Have they indeed been sold to an end user?

Let’s look at the carmakers with the most registrations of passenger cars and/or light commercials so far in 2016. The first figure is total registrations, the second dealer or carmaker demonstrators, the third percentage of such:


Toyota: 5650 – 524 (9.3%)


Ford: 3971 – 762 (19.2%)


Holden: 3027 – 872 (28.8%)


Mazda: 2579 – 503 (19.5%)


Mitsubishi: 2289 – 365 (15.9%)


Nissan: 2038 – 284 (13.9%)


Hyundai: 1973 – 533 (27.0%)


Suzuki: 1359 – 243 (17.9%)


Volkswagen: 1302 – 460 (35.3%)


Honda: 1099 – 142 (12.9%)


Kia: 1077 – 246 (22.8%)


Mercedes-Benz: 729 – 227 (31.1%)


Subaru: 677 – 185 (27.3%)


BMW: 592 – 327 (55.2%)


Isuzu: 574 – 142 (24.7%)


Ssangyong: 556 – 89 (16.0%)


Audi: 455 – 137 (30.1%)


Land Rover: 430 – 95 (22.1%)


Skoda: 329 – 97 (29.5%)


Jeep: 302 – 158 (52.3%)


Peugeot: 207 – 68 (32.9%)


Mini: 172 – 96 (55.8%)


Lexus: 168 – 61 (36.3%)


Volvo: 156 – 71 (45.5%)


Dodge: 113 – 40 (35.4%)


Jaguar: 99 – 58 (58.6%)


Some of the smaller marques:


Alfa Romeo: 56 – 35 (62.5%)


Renault: 50 – 19 (38.0%)


Citroen: 45 – 11 (24.4%)


The above registrations total 32,074 units; the pre-registrations 6850, or 21.3 per cent of 32,074. You could say that 21 out of every 100 new cars and light commercials registered by the NZTA so far this year are still waiting for buyers.




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