Sales of new cars and commercial vehicles in New Zealand are racing ahead, with a strong September accelerating the gains made earlier this year. September new car volume lifted 23% over the same month last year while commercial vehicles were up a hefty 32%, writes Donn Anderson.

For the first nine months of this year, new passenger car sales rose 13.5% on the same period in 2001 while total motor industry volume had improved by 16%. Long-time market leader Toyota took 18.3% of the car market year-to-date, and pulled further ahead in September on the back of buoyant sales of Corolla, Camry and the usually slow selling Australian-built Avalon.

Corolla was top-selling model for the month, edging out the General Motors Holden Commodore by only a handful of units, although for the first three-quarters of 2002 the Corolla is third behind both Commodore and Ford Falcon.

Commodore is shaping up to be the top-selling new car in New Zealand again, maintaining a solid advantage over the Falcon after nine months.

The new vehicle total of 7,816 for September was almost 10% up on August, with Toyota scooping 22.2% of the car market and 21.4% of commercial vehicle sales.

Overall, total new vehicle sales were up by one-quarter over the same month in 2001.

Runner-up in September, Ford had 16.6% of the car market and 19.7% of commercial sales for the month, giving a total industry penetration of 17.3% - well down on Toyota's 22.1% but clear of Holden's 15.1%.

Once again Holden staked its claim as the third big player, with 14.4% of the car market and 17.2% of commercial vehicle sales.

In the new car sector, fourth ranking Honda had 6.9% of the action, while both Mitsubishi and Nissan were level pegging on 6.7% and Mazda had 4.3%. Leading European brand Volkswagen ran ninth for the month with a 2.3% share, and sandwiched by Hyundai and BMW.

While BMW slipped behind VW for the month, the Munich marque is well ahead for the year, although its figures are being artificially swollen by the inclusion of the new Mini.

Best-selling new cars in New Zealand for the January-September 2002 period:

1. Holden Commodore, 4,404
2. Ford Falcon, 3,093
3. Toyota Corolla, 2,858
4. Ford Mondeo, 2,380
5. Toyota Camry, 1,861
6. Honda CRV, 1,342
7. Mitsubishi Diamante, 1,291
8. Nissan Maxima, 1,171
9. Holden Vectra, 1,014
10. Nissan Pulsar, 1,011