General Motors Holden continues to lead the New Zealand new car market with strong fleet sales of its large Commodore range, backed by a good response to the new generation Barina (Opel Corsa), writes Donn Anderson.


Holden was again on top in September, taking 19.3 percent of new passenger vehicle sales with 939 units, compared to 18 percent (875) for Toyota and 17.8 percent (865) for Ford.


But total industry sales are still subdued, with the poor new car sales total of 4,872 for September 7.5 percent down on the same month last year.


Commercial vehicle sales at 1,366 units were down 4.3 percent, while total new car and commercial sales were 6.8 percent lower than for September 2000.


For the first nine months of this year, total new car sales of 41,532 are down 3.6 percent on the same period in 2000, but commercial vehicles are up just over one percent to 11,966.


Total industry sales are off 2.6 percent in what has hardly been a sparkling year.


New Zealand dealers report a fall-off in demand since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States but private buyers have been staying away from car showrooms for some time.


September sales were 3.8 percent down on August although the industry had feared the figures would be even worse. The three market leaders have traditionally been strong in fleet and company vehicle sales and in the first nine months of 2001 they accounted for more than half of total new vehicle sales.


Of the 20 most significant brands, 12 have lost both market share and volume so far this year. The industry is still a three-way race while other makers are also-rans in terms of volume.


Ford has maintained its position as market leader in total car and commercial vehicle sales, and has just enjoyed its strongest quarter this year with 3,646 sales. This compares with 2,435 and 3,061 for the first two quarters.


Fourth placed new car seller in September was Mitsubishi with 6.5 percent of the market (317 units), followed by Honda with 6.4 percent (310), Nissan on 5.5 percent (268), while Mazda (3.9 percent and 191 units) was just ahead of Hyundai. Volkswagen was again the top European marque in tenth position with a 2.1 percent market share and 104 sales, a handful of units in front of BMW.


For the first three-quarters of this year, Holden’s 7,082 new car sales are 510 units ahead of Ford, while Toyota has retailed 5,942 units, 630 behind Ford.


Fourth ranked Nissan is on 3,908 (9.4 percent), followed by Honda (2,895, 7.0 percent), Mitsubishi (2,730, 6.6 percent), Hyundai (1,631, 3.9 percent), Mazda (1,600, 3.9 percent), Volkswagen (1,118, 2.7 percent) and Suzuki (1,112, 2.7 percent).


Ford, Holden, Honda, Mazda, Volkswagen and BMW are all doing better this year, while long-time market leader Toyota is down, along with Nissan, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Suzuki and Subaru.


Toyota is however still the top commercial vehicle seller with 23.8 percent, followed by Ford (21.4 percent) and Holden (15.5 percent).