The new car market is off to a strong start this year, with January registrations up 6 percent on the same month last year, figures released by the New Zealand Transport Agency show.
There were 5601 new registrations last month, a marked increase on the 3973 sold the previous month.
Toyota remained the top brand, with 1172 sales, followed by Holden, Mazda, Ford and Suzuki. The Toyota Corolla kept its long-held title of New Zealand's most popular car, with 651 sales, followed by the Holden Cruze, Suzuki Swift, Mazda3 and Holden Commodore.
Used import sales continued an upward trend starting in the last quarter of 2009, with 6828 sales, up 26 percent on January last year.
The existing used car market was steady and unchanged, as measured by changes of ownership.
Motor Trade Association marketing and communications general manager Ian Stronach said buyers seemed to be returning to the market, and the positive start to the year was "terrific".
"While it's early days, there has been strengthening trend in many overseas markets, so it's good to see our market showing a lift, and without the external stimulus that many of these other markets have relied on," he said.
"A good start to the year may well be the impetus the market needs to return to its more traditional level of sales."
The commercial sector did not fare so well, with 1102 sales, down 9 percent on January last year.
Motorcycle and scooter sales were also down.