New car sales in February reached 5,769, 3% up on the January figure and 10.5% ahead of February 2004.

New commercial vehicle registrations of 1,830 were up 8% on January and 7.5% year on year. For the year to date, total new vehicle sales were 5% higher than in 2004.

The Motor Industry Association (MIA) said lower depreciations accounts for the continuing growth.

"Not only are today's new cars very well priced for the safety features and driving qualities they offer, but NZ-new trade-ins are in high demand," said MIA CEO Perry Kerr.

"This has come about because new cars imported since 1998 no longer carry an import duty penalty. Under a level playing field a NZ-new used car is now much better value, which is why the used importers can no longer effectively compete in the market for later-model used vehicles."

Ford, thanks to a strong start to the year in commercial vehicles, is just holding off Toyota for total market leadership, whilst perennial top seller, GM Holden's Commodore is opening up a huge lead over Ford's Falcon for the title of best-selling model.

Top 10 models Jan-Feb 2005

1 Holden Commodore 1,033
2 Ford Falcon 681
3 Toyota Corolla 544
4 Honda Accord 459
5 Ford Territory 376
6 Toyota Camry 306
7 Ford Mondeo 289
8 Mazda 6 267
9 Nissan Maxima 258
10 Mazda 3 253