The booming New Zealand new vehicle market continued into July, with 6,233 new cars and 1,934 new commercial vehicles registered during the month.

For new cars, this was 8.5% up on the same month in 2002, and the best July since 1990. It was also the strongest January-July year to date result for 13 years.

Ford, Toyota and Holden are locked in a tight battle for leadership, and have established a big gap over fourth-placed Mitsubishi, according to the country’s Motor Industry Association (mia).

New commercial vehicles are showing even greater gains with Toyota the clear segment leader. 10.2% more new commercials were sold in July compared with the same month last year, and year to date July the new commercial vehicle market is the strongest since 1985.

“Based on this strong and continuing level of activity we cannot rule out a 70,000 market for new cars in 2003,” said MIA CEO Perry Kerr, “and the new commercial vehicle market for the year will surpass 20,000 units by a considerable margin.”

A high volume of used vehicles is also imported into New Zealand, mostly from Japan, and this has affected new vehicle sales since the country’s car market was opened up to all comers in the late 1980s.

“After over a decade of uncertainty caused by the used import boom the new vehicle market is clearly returning to more normal levels, and this is confirmed by the considerably greater confidence being expressed by distributors and dealers,” added Kerr.

“The price gap between new and used cars has reduced considerably since the playing field was levelled by the abolition of import duty on new cars in 1998,” Kerr said.

“Since then there has been a steady and continuous recovery in the new car market. Ironically, sales of used imports are also setting records, but all that this reflects is the fact that as newly-imported used cars get older and older, they have to be replaced more often.”

Top 10 car brands

YTD July 2003.

1. Ford  6,567  16.9%
2. Toyota 6,334  16.3%
3. Holden   6,028  15.5%
4. Mitsubishi  3,923  10.1%
5. Honda  2,548     6.6%
6. Nissan  2,216    5.7%
7. Mazda  1,896    4.9%
8. Hyundai   941     2.4%
9. BMW   914     2.4%
10. Subaru   897    2.3%
Other brands  6,606  16.9%
Total   38,870

Top 10 car models

YTD July 2003

1.    Holden Commodore 3,926
2.    Ford Falcon  3,825
3.    Toyota Corolla  2,259
4.    Mazda6   1,405
5.    Ford Mondeo  1,365  
6.    Toyota Camry  1,187
7.    Mitsubishi Diamante 1,129
8.    Toyota RAV4    997
9.    Honda Jazz      931
10.  Holden Astra     926