• Above, motorsport fan and former Prime Minister David Lange
A month from now the new vehicle industry in New Zealand will look back on 2014 as the best sales year since 1984, when the David Lange-led Labour Party won a snap election and soon after changed forever the way this country does business.
Back then, 117,075 new vehicles were sold in the 11 months till December – this year 117,758 have been sold in the same period. Back then, 3.29 million people lived in New Zealand. These days, around 4.5 million people live here. The statistics go a long way to supporting contentions that new vehicles these days are better value than ever. But that’s another story.
Strong sales this month will result in 2014 easily topping the 123,247 new vehicles registered in 1984. To do that, New Zealanders need to buy a minimum of 5500 new cars and commercials. There is no indication, say observers, that a new record won’t be set, although there is a sober precedent of sorts: sales in December 1984 plummeted 40% on November 1984 numbers.
The Motor Industry Association says it expects 2014 sales to top 125,000 units. It is a cautionary prediction, allowing for a comparatively modest 8000 or so registrations in December. Monthly sales throughout 2014 have averaged 10,700 units.
November sales of 11,176 new vehicles were above average for the year and up 8% and 788 units on the same month last year. Registrations till the end of last month were up 13% (13,237 units) on the same period in 2013.
The commercial segment this year has been the strongest since Motor Industry Association sales records began in 1981. At the end of last month, 33,290 commercials had been registered in 2014 compared with 30,881 for all of last year. That’s a hike of 19.2% year-on-year.
The race between the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux has been the highlight. Ranger (5626) led Hilux (5336) by 290 registrations at the end of November. Till then Ranger averaged 511 units a month to Hilux’s 485. Ranger will almost certainly end Hilux’s 32-year resign as the country’s most popular commercial ute.
The best-selling car at the end of November was the Toyota Corolla, boosted throughout the year by rental and fleet sales that accounted for 45%, or 2468 units, of its 5696 registrations. Second was the Holden Commodore with 2780; third was Suzuki Swift with 2457. After Ranger and Hilux in the commercial segment came the Holden Colorado with 2744 sales.
Premium passenger car leaders Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz at the end of last month had sold almost a combined 500 more vehicles than they did for the whole of 2013. Both BMW and Audi cracked 200 registrations in November to be sitting at 2007 and 1979 units respectively, while Benz was at 1717.
But Benz is the big mover in 2014. BMW in 2013 sold 1907 cars; Audi 1820; Benz 1482. With a month left in 2014, BMW is up 100 cars, Audi 159, and Benz 235. Benz has accumulated a few gongs along the way, too. Its C-Class sedan won the premium category in this year’s NZ Motoring Writers’ Guild/AA Car of the Year awards. It also won NZ Autocar magazine’s premium category and an overall COTY award in Australia.
Top 10 passenger cars till the end of November:
- Toyota Corolla 5696. 2. Holden Commodore 2780. 3. Suzuki Swift 2457. 4. Toyota Yaris 2306. 5. Toyota RAV4 2254. 6. Mazda3 2244. 7. Mazda CX-5 2178. 8. Holden Captiva 2067. 9. Hyundai Santa Fe 1769. 10. Hyundai IX35 1768.
Top 10 commercials till the end of November:
- Ford Ranger 5626. 2. Toyota Hilux 5336. Holden Colorado 2744. 4. Nissan Navara 2317. 5. Toyota Hiace 2313. 6. Mitsubishi Triton 1467. 7. Mazda BT-50 1358. 8. Isuzu D-Max 1154. 9. Ssangyong Actyon Sport 820. 10. Volkswahen Amarok 731.
Top 10 passenger car numbers till the end of November:
- Toyota 14,359. 2. Holden 9440. 3. Hyundai 7182. 4. Ford 6599. 5. Mazda 6144. 6. Mitsubishi 4837. 7. Suzuki 4370. 8. Nissan 4291. 9. Volkswagen 3714. 10. Honda 3364.