The New Zealand new vehicle market remained soft in October as buyers focused on the Rugby World Cup held at various venues throught the country this year.

Official NZTA registration data showed total new vehicle sales last month were off 3.7% year on year to 7,026. New passenger car sales slipped 7.5% to 5,428 but commercial vehicle sales rose 11.7% to 1,431 units.

“We were disappointed in the overall sales numbers as the Japanese industry has finally got back on its feet following the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami,” said Perry Kerr, CEO of the Motor Industry Association.

“Unfortunately production of utes [utilities or pickup trucks] is now taking a hit due to the extensive flooding in Thailand which has closed the vast majority of parts manufacturers. This has resulted in the vehicle manufacturers ceasing production.

“Looking forward, our expectation is that November will remain weak as buyers’ attention is diverted towards the forthcoming election. We however remain hopeful that total new vehicle sales for the full year will exceed 2010,” added Kerr.

Toyota remained its usual top place for passenger car sales (1,333 registrations), followed by Hyundai (657). Holden was third with 597 registrations. Year to date, Holden was second (5,379) and Hyundai third (5,289).

In the commercial segment, Toyota led in October with 467 sales, Ford was second (244) and Nissan third (147).

The top selling model for the month was the Toyota Corolla with 528 registrations (sales boosted by additional rental vehicle volume as the industry ‘fleets up’ for the southern hemisphere southern tourism season), the Hyundai i30 (309) and the redesigned Toyota Yaris (305). Toyota’s Hilux led the light commerical segment with 286 registrations, followed by the Ford Ranger (204) and the Toyota Hiace van line (185).