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Q1 total vehicle sales up 14%; market heading for biggest year since 2005

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The first quarter for 2015 vehicle sales has opened strongly, increasing 14 percent compared to the first three months of last year.

For the whole market, 24,853 new and used imported vehicles (passenger and commercial) were registered in March, 12 percent more than the 22,099 vehicles sold for the first time in the same month last year. It was also up 18 percent on last month’s total figure of 21,131 units. For 2015’s first quarter, 70,086 vehicles were registered in total, a 14 percent increase on last year.

MTA Chief Executive Warwick Quinn notes this is not evenly spread across the regions.

“The Canterbury and Auckland regions are the powerhouse, making up 59 percent of all vehicle registrations over the last quarter. This compares directly with building activity for the December 2014 to February 2015 quarter, where these two regions also made up 59 percent of all residential construction activity in New Zealand.

“But when you dig below the surface further it is quite revealing. Auckland’s population is 34 percent of New Zealand yet it registered 47 percent of all vehicles, whereas Canterbury vehicle registrations are 13 percent and identical to its population percentage. Overall, Auckland beat the national growth figure, with 17 percent Q1 increase on the same period last year. Christchurch matched it, with 14 percent. Wellington couldn’t keep up, at 10 percent growth and while having 11 percent of the population only had 8 percent of all vehicle registrations”, he says.

“However, if we continue to grow at the current rate for the rest of the year we will set a new record and surpass the 270,000 vehicles registered in 2005.

“Interesting also is seeing just what New Zealanders are buying. In March, five of the six top-selling new vehicles in the market were utes. This gives real insight into what Kiwis want their vehicles for – and the types of experiences we’re pursuing.”

The new car segment sold 8,075 units, up 1 percent on March 2014’s 7,992, with the quarter up 6 percent on the figure from last year’s January to March period. Toyota Corolla led with 291 units sold, followed by Suzuki Swift with 274 units and Honda Jazz with 238 units.

The used imported passenger segment sold 12,313 units in March, up 20 percent on last March’s 10,247, with the quarter up 20 percent compared to last year. Suzuki Swift led this segment, with 666 units, followed by Mazda Axela with 584 units, and Nissan Tiida, with 487 units.

The new commercial sector sold 3,680 utes, vans, trucks, and buses this March, 13 percent more than the 3,243 sold in the same month 2014, with the sector’s quarterly sales up 14 percent compared to the same period last year. Toyota Hilux held onto the top spot with 548 units, followed by Ford Ranger with 514 units and Holden Colorado with 346 units.

Used imported commercial sold 785 units this March, a 27 percent increase on the 617 units sold for the same month last year, with the sector up 15 percent for the quarter, compared to 2014. Toyota Hiace had a strong lead with 298 units, followed by Nissan Caravan with 73 units and Mazda Bongo with 36 units.

Motorcycle sector: big summer, especially for big bikes

The total for new and used imported road-registered motorcycles for March 2015 reached 1,159 units, up 38 percent on last March’s figure of 839. For the first quarter, the total sales figure for two-wheeled, road-registered vehicles reached 3,244 – up 22 percent on last year.

The new motorcycle segment sold 957 units, up 42 percent on last February’s figure of 672, while the used imported two-wheel segment sold 202 units, gaining 21 percent on the 167 units sold last March. In both new and used sectors, the strongest sales performers were the bigger motorcycles.