New vehicle registrations in New Zealand during March reached 8,820 (6,506 cars and 2,314 commercial vehicles), confirming that the recent cycle of strength in the new vehicle market shows no sign of abating, the Motor Industry Association (MIA) said in a statement.

The new car market grew by almost 25% from February to March, and the commercial vehicle market by 36%.

For the first quarter, passenger car sales of 17,438 were 9.0% ahead of the same period last year, and commercial sales for the quarter at 5,538 were up 11.5%.

The MIA remains in optimistic mood. “We are over two thousand units ahead of last year’s first quarter, and 2003 went on to produce a 92,000 unit new vehicle market, the strongest since the early years of used imports,” said MIA CEO Perry Kerr. “The market is recognising the excellent value now represented by new vehicles and making decisions accordingly.”

Ford led both the passenger and total vehicle markets in March, but Toyota again led the commercial market. Year to date, Toyota led Ford and General Motors’ Australian Holden brand in the total market but, in the passenger car market, Holden held a slender lead.

The Holden Commodore was again the top selling car for the month, ahead of the Ford Australia-made Falcon with usual third placeholder Corolla slipping to fourth behind Honda’s Accord.