New Zealand’s new vehicle industry is celebrating 2002 as a turning point in the re-emergence of new vehicle sales as a measurement of consumer confidence, the Motor Industry Association (mia) said.

Total new vehicle sales in 2002 reached 83,743 units, a 12.1% increase on 2001 and the highest annual sales level since 1990.

Sales of new passenger cars, at 64,086, were up 10.2% on the previous year and the highest since 1996, whilst new commercial vehicle sales, at 19,657 units, jumped 18.7% on the previous year to post the highest sales volume since 1985.

“2002 was a great year for the new vehicle industry,” said MIA CEO Perry Kerr. “The strong resurgence in sales of new commercial vehicles is particularly noteworthy, as it underpins renewed confidence in the productive sectors of the economy. We are also seeing the continuing recovery in new car sales to private buyers, as awareness of reduced depreciation continues to grow.”

Kerr highlighted the positive impact of the frontal impact standards for used import cars which took effect in April 2002.

“The Government is to be congratulated for this initiative,” he said, “however it is important that the impetus is not lost. If we do nothing more, we will see used imports continue to regress in age and condition, a scenario which will do nothing for safety on the roads, the depreciation of the vehicle fleet in general, or the environment.”

“The frontal impact standards have resulted in the importation of safer, better quality used cars,” added Kerr, “and contrary to the predictions of some importers the volume of business hasn’t been affected, as 2002 was a record year for used vehicle imports.”