The economic downturn in New Zealand continued to affect new vehicle sales with February passenger car registrations of 3,795units down 28% on January’s and also down a massive 38.5% compared with February 2008.

Commercial vehicle registrations (1,263) fared slightly better as they were ahead of January’s (a month of summer holiday breaks) but down 37% year on year.

“While 2008 started strongly, the same will not be the case this year” said Motor Industry Association CEO Pery Kerr.

He said the new vehicle industry had anticipated the downturn and began reducing stock levels from the middle of last year. Rising vehicle prices have also hit sales.

“The overall price adjustment needed to compensate for the very weak New Zealand dollar is close to 50% so there are still quite a number of price increases to come”.

Toyota continued to lead the market for both passenger car and commercials with a combined market share of 16.5% and 832 registrations for the month. Ford was second with 12.2% (620 registrations) and Mazda sneaked into third place with 464 registrations, just ahead of Holden with 463.

Toyota’s Corolla remained the top selling car (219) followed by the General Motors Holden Commodore (196) and Ford Falcon (166).