New car sales in New Zealand in May reached the highest total in 17 years at 6,344 units, 29.8% up over April.

Data from the Motor Industry Association (MIA) showed that new commerical vehicle sales also held firm, with 2,051 units registered in May, 18.5% up on April's figure.

Year to date, however, the new vehicle market is flat - commercial vehicle sales are at 99.6% of last year's levels, and new cars are at 99.9%.

"The new vehicle market continues at a buoyant level in spite of indications of a softening economy," said MIA CEO Perry Kerr. "It's very competitive out there and new vehicle buyers are getting great value for their money."

Toyota (7,005 units YTD) continued to increase its lead over Ford (4,940) followed closely by GM's Holden (4,924). Holden has maintained second place in new car sales (4,001) behind Toyota (4,365) and ahead of Ford (3,359).

The top three new car models remain unchanged with the Holden Commodore in the top spot followed by the Toyota Corolla and the Ford Falcon.