New vehicle sales surge in August, heading for annual record

Motor Industry Association chief executive David Crawford

Sales of new vehicles surged in August, suggesting annual sales may reach a new record this year, as the lower prices offered by a strong New Zealand dollar and a buoyant economy drive demand.

Registrations for new commercial vehicles rose to 3,106 in August, the strongest level since the Motor Industry Association began collecting the data in 1981, the Lower Hutt-based organisation said in a statement. Sales of new commercial vehicles so far in 2014 are 21 percent ahead of the same period last year and sales may exceed 36,000 by the end of the year, some 5,000 ahead of last year's record, the MIA said.

Meanwhile, sales of new passenger vehicles rose 3.7 percent to 7,083 in August from the year earlier month, with sales so far this year up 9.6 percent from the same period a year earlier.

New Zealand's economy grew at an annual average 2.9 percent pace in 2013 and the Reserve Bank has forecast it will expand 3.7 percent this year. Motor vehicle sales are considered a leading economic growth indicator as buyers need confidence in the outlook to make a significant purchase. Sales of new vehicles, which includes passenger and commercial, so far this year are 13 percent ahead of the same period in 2013 and at the current pace are set to reach a new record of 124,000 by the end of the year, the MIA said.

"The strong New Zealand dollar and healthy economic confidence combined with competitive pricing is fuelling the strong demand for new vehicles, returning sales to above pre-financial (crisis) levels," MIA chief executive David Crawford said.

Aichi, Japan-based Toyota Motor Co was the top selling brand in August, with an 18 percent share of sales, followed by Michigan, US-based Ford Motor Co with an 11 percent share and Holden New Zealand, the local unit of Detroit, US-based General Motors Co, also with an 11 percent share, the MIA said.

The Ford Ranger was the top selling commercial model for August, followed by the Toyota Hilux and the Toyota Hiace, the MIA said.

For passenger vehicles, the Toyota Corolla was the best seller, followed by the Holden Commodore and the Honda Jazz, the MIA said.


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