New Zealand’s new vehicle market plunged in November for the first time since the used import flood of the early 1990s (used imports at one time were triple new vehicle shipments).

New car sales at 4,898 last month were 34.5% behind October levels, and 27.1% off year on year. Commercial vehicle sales of 1,639 were down 12.0% on October and 26.7% lower year on year.

“With only December to go, it would seem that the full year market is going to settle at about the level experienced in 2004. The six year boom in new vehicle sales is over for the time being,” said Perry Kerr, CEO of the Motor Industry Association.

“But it’s relevant to note that although new car registrations for November were 27% below the same month last year, registrations of used import cars were 40% down and used import commercial vehicle sales are now at a negligible level.

“The New Zealand vehicle market is finding a new level in response to challenging economic conditions but it is clear that as we pull out of this downturn the industry will be in leaner shape to deal with the opportunities ahead.”

Toyota remained New Zealand’s dominant vehicle distributor by volume and its Corolla was the most popular car year to date.

Used car registrations fell 39.4% to 5,923, a government agency said.