New vehicle sales rise in August, heading for annual record

New Zealand new vehicle sales rose 3 percent in August, helping the industry notch up more than 100,000 registrations so far this year, the fastest ever pace and keeping it on track to hit a new record this year.

Some 13,063 new vehicles were registered in August, ahead of the 12,677 registered in the same month last year, according to the Motor Industry Association. Passenger car and SUV registrations slipped 3.2 percent to 8,607 while commercial vehicle registrations jumped 18 percent to 4,456, which the association said reflected changing consumer preferences.

Motor vehicle registrations in the first eight months of this year are 11 percent ahead of the same period last year at 103,923, which is double the growth rate expected by the industry. That suggests vehicle sales may be headed for a fourth straight annual record this year as the economy is buoyed by low interest rates and record migration.

"Growth in the new vehicle market is above expectations for 2017," said MIA chief executive David Crawford. "We have strong net immigration, competitive new vehicle prices, low cost of finance and the NZ dollar is relatively strong. We expect to see these conditions remaining for a while."

Crawford noted that new vehicle sales hadn't been dented by the looming general election this month.

Japanese car maker Toyota remained the market leader in August, with a 19 percent market share, followed by Ford on 10 percent and Holden at 8 percent, the MIA said.

(BusinessDesk)