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Record quarter for car retail

A boom in car sales has driven up total retail trade sales statistics, Stats NZ said this morning, and accounted for over half the increase in total retail sales volume for the quarter.

In actual terms, the value of total retail sales topped $21.5 billion for the March 2017 quarter, up 6.7 per cent compared to March 2016.

After adjusting for seasonal effects, the motor-vehicles industry had a record 5.9 per cent increase in the latest quarter.

“Car sales have shown consistent growth over the past year, with higher sales of both new and used vehicles in a buoyant market,” said senior business indicators manager Neil Kelly.

“The demand for cars may reflect New Zealand’s growing population, with net migration remaining at record levels into 2017, and the relatively low cost of new vehicles.”

Total retail sales volume rose 1.5 per cent in the latest quarter, after adjusting for seasonal effects. This follows a 0.9 rise in the December 2016 quarter.

Nine of the 15 industries analysed had a higher sales volume in the latest quarter. Motor vehicles and parts had the highest increase, up 5.9 per cent to $3.22 billion. This was followed by food and beverage services, up 3.5 per cent, and electrical and electronic goods, up 5.3 per cent.

When the effect of price changes is included, the seasonally adjusted value of total retail sales rose 2.6 per cent, or $558 million, for the March 2017 quarter.

11 industries had higher sales values compared to the December 2016 quarter, with motor vehicle and parts heading the increase, up 5.9 per cent, or $179 million, followed by fuel retailing, up 6.5 per cent, or $122 million.

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Used commercial vehicle sales remain high

Used commercial sales rose by 9.9 per cent last month with 908 vehicles sold – up from 826 sold during same time last year. 


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Used-imported car sales remain strong

Used imported car sales have increased by three per cent, with 12,140 vehicles registered in April last year and 12,507 sold last month.

Of note is a sizeable increase in sales of the Nissan Leaf, which has increased by 210 per cent up from 39 per cent in April 2016 to 121 per cent last month.

The most-sold model for the month was the Nissan Tilda, with 533 vehicles registered, which was a decrease of 16.2 per cent from the same time last year when 636 vehicles were sold. The Suzuki Swift followed with 523 vehicles sold, a decrease of 3.9 percent from the same time last year when 544 units were sold. The Mazda Axela completed the top three with 516 vehicles sold, yet another decrease of 4.1 per cent from the same time last year when 538 vehicles were sold.

As usual, Toyota topped the sales with 3,209 vehicles sold in April, a 7.8 per cent increase on the same time last year. Nissan and Mazda followed with a 2.8 per cent decrease at 2,292 unit sales, and a 1.3 per cent decrease at 1,823 unit sales, respectively. Toyota holds 25.6 per cent of the market share, while Nissan and Mazda hold 17.8 per cent and 14.8 per cent respectively.

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Employment opportunities increase

Unemployment for men is at the lowest it has been for almost ten years. Falling from 4.8 to 4.2 per cent in the March 2017 quarter. (more…)

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New vehicle registrations robust

David Crawford, chief executive officer of the Motor Industry Association, says registration of 10,635 vehicles for the month of April confirms robust growth in the new vehicle sector which continues to perform above market expectations.
“It could have been even greater if it were not for supply constraints faced by some distributors.”
Year to date the new vehicle sector is 13 per cent ahead of this time last year with 50,059 vehicles registered compared to 44,210 to the end of April 2016.

Passenger car and SUV registrations of 6,996 units were marginally up 3.0 per cent (207 units) above April 2016. There were 3,639 commercial vehicle registrations for the month of April, strongly up by 15.5 per cent (489 units) on April 2016. It was the strongest month of April on record for the registration of new commercial vehicles.

Toyota remains the overall market leader with 17 per cent market share (1,771 units), followed by Ford with 12 per cent (1,267 units) and Holden with 8 per cent market share (865 units).

Toyota was also the market leader for passenger and SUV registrations with 14 per cent market share (961 units) followed by Mazda with 10 per cent (710 units) and Hyundai with 8 per cent market share (562 units). The top selling passenger and SUV models for the month were the Mazda CX-5 (264 units) followed by the Kia Sportage (250 units) and the Toyota RAV4 (237 units).

In the commercial sector, Toyota was again the market leader with 22 per cent (810 units) followed by Ford with 21 per cent (768 units) and Holden a distant third with 9 per cent market share (322 units).

For the month of April, the Ford Ranger remains at the top of the bestselling vehicle model table with 698 units followed by the Toyota Hilux in second with 571 units and the Holden Colorado with 312 units. Year to date the top three selling models are Ford Ranger with 2,912 units followed by the Toyota Hilux with 2,289 units and the Toyota Corolla with 1,546 units.

For the month of April the top five vehicle segments were dominated by SUV’s and utes (pick up/chassis cab), the SUV medium segment being the most dominant with 16 per cent share (1,743 units) followed by pick up/chassis cab 4×4 with 15 per cent (1,560 units), the SUV large with 12 per cent (1,251 units), the SUV compact with 12 per cent (1,247 units) and the pick up/chassis cab 4×2 on 10 per cent (1,112 units).

“Monthly registrations of 10,635 vehicles were the strongest month of April on record, and only the second time since the MIA began collecting data that the month of April has surpassed 10,000 units, the other time was way back in 1982,” says Crawford.

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EV fleet continues to rise

The Leaf is New Zealand’s most popular EV

New Zealand’s EV fleet rose seven per cent in the month of March to 3,120 units, a new high for the country, according to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Transport.

634 vehicles in total were registered for the first quarter of 2017, a 15 per cent increase on the last quarter of 2016.

A select few models dominate the EV fleet in New Zealand. The most popular vehicle by far in the first quarter was the used Nissan Leaf, with 299 registrations, or 47 per cent of the total EV market.

Second was the Paxter, a light urban EV used by New Zealand Post deliveries, with 93 registrations for 14 per cent of the market. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, which recently launched its next-generation model in New Zealand, came in third with 66 registrations.

Used light pure electric vehicles continues to be the fastest-growing segment of the EV market. In the first quarter of this year, 1323 units were registered, 42 per cent of total sales and a 9.5 per cent increase on the fourth quarter of 2016. New pure EV registrations rose 3.4 per cent to 757 units.

Used plug-in hybrid sales increased even faster, with registrations up 23 per cent to 114 units, and new plug-in sales rose five per cent to 856 units.

Auckland forms the core of the EV fleet in New Zealand, with 1501 units registered in the supercity. Second was Christchurch, with 134 current registrations, followed by Wellington, with 67.

Manufacturer’s award for Subaru’s sales records

Subaru of New Zealand’s record-breaking 2016 sales year has received recognition from its Japanese manufacturer Subaru Corporation.

Managing director of Subaru of New Zealand Wallis Dumper and sales manager Wayne McClennan recently returned from the Tokyo head office having accepted two awards from Subaru Corporation president and chief executive officer Yasuyuki Yoshinaga on behalf of the company.

The awards were: New Sales Record Award 2016 – in recognition of achieving a new sales record. Sales Award for Achieving Outstanding Sales Growth in 2016 – 2658 units sold, which was 117.2 per cent growth compared to 2015.

This year has continued in a similarly successful fashion with Subaru of New Zealand achieving a record first quarter. The company is already 15.7 per cent ahead on the same period last year.

Subaru has sold 783 new passenger vehicles during the year to March 2017, taking 2.9 per cent of the market share despite Subaru not offering utes, which are hugely popular in New Zealand.

“It is extremely rewarding for myself, our dedicated Kiwi team and our independently-owned and locally-operated authorised Subaru dealer network to see the continued growth of the Subaru brand in New Zealand,” Dumper says.

“Limited production means there are challenges around meeting the current demand but we are always working hard to gain a greater allocation out of the Subaru factory in Japan. So long as the currency is kind to us we hope to achieve another record sales year and in so doing also secure further allocation of Impreza and all other models,” he says.

Card spending up in March quarter

Retail card spending rose 1.7 per cent in the March 2017 quarter when adjusted for seasonal effects, following a 1.5 rise in December 2016. Spending rose across most retail industries, Stats NZ reported.

“The rise in retail card spending in the March quarter was driven by an increase in fuel spending,” business indicators senior manager Neil Kelly said.

Spending rose in five of the six retail industries in the quarter. Fuel topped the table, up $126 million, or seven per cent.

In actual terms, retail spending using electronic cards totalled $15.1 billion in the March 2017 quarter. This was up $669 million, or 4.6 per cent, compared to the March 2016 quarter.

The quarterly rise in card spending is due mainly to a booming January, with monthly retail card spending down 0.3 per cent in March compared to February 2017, the second monthly fall in a row.

“The fall in retail card spending in the March month was driven by a decrease in fuel spending, which coincides with a price drop of fuel,” Kelly said.

Fuel spending fell $12 million, or 1.9 per cent, following a $14 million jump in February. Spending on vehicles excluding fuel rose 1.5 per cent in March to $166 million after falling 0.5 per cent in February.

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Prius the top-selling car in Japan for 2016

The Toyota Prius was the best-selling vehicle in Japan for the 2016 financial year for the first time in five years, according to Toyko-based newspaper Japan Today.

For the year ending March 31, 2017, the Prius sold 225,066 units, a 44.3 per cent increase on 2016. Second was the Honda minicar N-Box, which sold 192,369 units, followed by the Toyota Aqua Hybrid, which sold 155,566 units.

The fourth-generation Prius XW50, first released in December 2015 to strong sales, is the most fuel efficient model yet, consuming 4.4L/100 km. Only three plug-in hybrid models have a higher rating – the Chevrolet Volt, BMW i3 REx and Prius PHV.

This was followed with the release of the second-generation plug-in Prius Prime PHV in February of this year, which also helped boost sales.

Strong Prius sales in Japan will be a boon for New Zealand importers and drivers, with used Prius sales doubling year-on-year last month as demand continues to grow.  

The hybrid has recently one of the most popular imported used cars in the country, hitting the monthly top ten for the first time in March 2017 with 389 vehicles sold.

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Ports groaning under weight of vehicle imports

March was a record-breaking month for vehicle imports, with Customs New Zealand reporting 32,800 new and used vehicles arriving in the country.

This is a 39 per cent increase on March 2016, and a 19 per cent increase on February this year.

19,579 used passenger vehicles were imported last month, a 50.6 per cent increase on March 2016. This is the largest month in recent history, with the previous record 16,450 in May 2014.

18,446 of these vehicles came from Japan, taking 94.2 per cent of the market. Japanese imports increased 50 percent in March compared to last year.  Next was Australia, with 630 used imports, increasing 33.5 per cent year-on-year, and Great Britain, with 241 imports; a massive 288.7 per cent year-on-year increase.

Year-to-date, used cars are 27 per cent ahead of the same period.

Used commercial imports also increased, up 34.2 per cent to 722 units. 94 per cent of these vehicles came from Japan, according to provisional Customs statistics, with Australia second on a two per cent market share.

New vehicle imports were also strong in March. A total 12,499 new vehicles were imported last month, 17 per cent higher than February and a 26.3 per cent increase on March 2016.

New passenger vehicles rose 21.7 per cent year-on-year to 9,200. Of these, 3,399 were from Japan, a 36 per cent market share. Next was Korea, with 1461 new passenger imports, a 15 per cent share, and then Germany, with 1255 imports. Australian imports fell further to 322 units, from a six-month high of 846 last October. 

New commercials imports increased 31.3 per cent compared to March 2016, with 3,299 vehicles. 76 per cent of these new imports were from Thailand, where several top-selling utes, such as the Ford Ranger, Nissan Navara and Toyota Hilux, are manufactured. Next was Japan with an 11.6 per cent share and then China on three per cent.

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Best-ever March vehicle sales in Australia

Australia’s motoring industry had its best-ever March sales figures, with the market up 898 sales, or 0.9 per cent, on the same time last year. According to statistical provider VFACTS, 105,410 vehicles were sold in Australia last month.

Sales decreased in ACT, NSW, the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia, but strong growth in South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria offset this slump.

The SUV market continues to grow, accounting for 39.4 per cent of the total vehicle market in March – a 7.9 per cent increase on 2016.

“For the first three months of 2017 the SUV segment is now the dominant sector, whereas this time last year passenger cars led the market by around 10,000 sales. Clearly, the shift in market dynamics is accelerating,” said CEO of the Federal Chamber of Automotive industries, Tony Weber.

Toyota was the leading car make, taking 18.6 per cent of the market in March. This was followed by Mazda, with a 9.9 per cent market share, and Hyundai on 8.3 per cent.

The top-selling vehicle in Australia was the Toyota Hilux, with 4,425 sales, followed by the Ford Ranger, with 3,845 and the Toyota Corolla, with 3,574 units sold.

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