Buoyant selling conditions which have been a feature of the New Zealand new car market over the last two years continued in January as 7,235 new vehicles were registered.

Sales of 5,713 passenger cars just squeaked ahead of the 5,711 a year ago to make last month’s result the best for January since 1990. At 1,522, there were more new commercial vehicles sold than in any January since 1984 (1,794).

“This was a great start to the year,” said Perry Kerr, CEO of the Motor Industry Association, which groups new vehicle importers.

“After such a huge December we may have expected the market to pause for a breath in January, but this was not the case. The market certainly seems to have gained a lot of momentum and we look forward to this level of activity continuing for some time yet.”

Toyota remained market leader overall thanks to a strong month in commercial vehicles, but Holden took the passenger car crown by a margin of 92 units with 1,009, with arch-rival Ford in third place (662).

In the individual model stakes, the Holden Commodore was the runaway best-seller with 642 sales, nearly 300 ahead of the Ford Falcon’s 350. The Toyota Corolla was third with 339.

But used cars, mostly imported from Japan, still dominate the vehicle registration tables ‘down under’. January saw 12,116 used car sales, up slightly on a year ago (12,014) after 156,972 for full year 2003, itself up on 2002’s 136,418.