New car sales in New Zealand last month reached their highest October level since 1984, according to figures released by Land Transport New Zealand.

A total of 7,791 new cars were registered for the month, 5% up on September and 3.9% ahead of October 2005's record. In contrast, new commercial vehicle sales, at 1,507, were 16% down on October last year. Year to date, new car sales, at 65,050, are off 1.1% year on year while commericial vehicle sales (19,715) are down 10.3%.

"The new car market continues at a very similar level to last year's record," said Motor Industry Association CEO Perry Kerr. "But it's clear that tightening business conditions are having an effect on the sales of commercial vehicles."

Toyota (15,813) maintained a commanding lead over Ford (12,568) in year to date new vehicle sales, and the Japanese automaker's Corolla (844) was easily the top selling individual model for the month, with GM's Holden Commodore second (512).