NZ new vehicle sales drop in June, still post second-best June ever

Kia car sales yard in Lower Hutt. Photo by Lynn Grieveson

New car sales dropped in June, as demand for commercial and passenger cars slid from the hot pace of the same period a year earlier amid slowing economic growth, a weakening currency and rising fuel prices, though the month still recorded the second-best June ever.

New motor vehicle registrations sank 8.2 percent to 15,172 last month from the same period a year earlier, taking year-to-date sales to 80,036, or 0.5 percent higher than in the first six months of 2017, Motor Industry Association figures show. Sales of commercial vehicles dropped 6.2 percent to 5,447, while passenger and SUV car sales fell 4.5 percent to 9,725.

New car sales have been tapering off in recent months after several years of breaking records as the kiwi weakened to the lowest level in two years amid signs of an easing in the pace of economic expansion while fuel prices have risen.

“The MIA has received many inquiries on whether higher fuel prices have resulted in people purchasing smaller vehicles or more electric vehicles,” MIA chief executive David Crawford said in a statement. "Based on the results to end of June there appears to be a slight shift to smaller vehicles with the SUV medium and SUV compact segments coming in first and third.”

The MIA figures show Toyota remains the market leader, commanding 16 percent of sales with 2,458 vehicles in June, followed by Ford at 11 percent, or 1,629 units, and Holden at 8 percent with 1,276 new sales.

Four of the top five selling models for the month of June were light commercial vehicles, according to the MIA. The Ford Ranger retained its position as the bestselling vehicle model with 1,049 units, followed by the Toyota RAV4 with 678 units and the Toyota Hilux with 646 units.

Toyota was the market leader for passenger and SUV registrations with a 16 percent market share in June, while Ford retained the lead in the commercial sector with a 22 percent market share.