A total of 6,732 passenger cars and 1,700 commercial vehicles were sold new in New Zealand last month.

Passenger car sales were 6.6% ahead of January 2006 and commercial volume was up 14.6%. It was the best January for both sectors for 23 years.

“This is a very encouraging start to the new year,” said Motor Industry Association CEO Perry Kerr. “Buyers are clearly responding to the tremendous value for money on offer in today’s new vehicle market, and it’s pleasing that new sales records are being set at a time when the used import market continues its decline.”

Top selling brand in January was again Toyota, with 1,595 units, ahead of GM Australia’s Holden (1,226) and Ford (831).

Toyota’s Corolla was the top selling car model at 655 units ,just ahead of the Holden Commodore (623).

The NZ market (total population about 4m) accounted for just under 100,000 new vehicle sales last year. Following import duty reductions some years ago, all cars are now imported built-up though some heavy trucks are still assembled locally from SKD packs.