New vehicle sales in New Zealand reflected the effects of global financial influences, but not to anything like the extent that certain overseas markets have suffered, a local trade group said.

New passenger car sales, at 7,477 for the month, were 12% up on September, but 5% down on October 2007, the Motor Industry Association, representing new vehicle importers, said.

New commercial vehicle sales reached 1,863, marginally up on September’s level, but 13% below the figure for the same month last year.

Both passenger and commercial vehicle sales fell back to approximately October 2005 levels, and the total new vehicle market was now running year to date at 2.6% below the first 10 months of 2007, at 83,972 units, the MIA said.

“It’s nevertheless a pretty good performance considering the economic headwinds,” said MIA CEO Perry Kerr.

“What’s even more significant is that the industry has finally put the used import era behind it. In October, not only did the number of new passenger cars sold beat the equivalent used import figure by 13%, but it was the first month since July 1994 that new car registrations had exceeded those of used imports.”

Toyota is in an unassailable position for full year market share with a 30%-plus performance in October, and its Corolla is streaking away from General Motors’ Holden Commodore, the Suzuki Swift and Ford’s Falcon as the year to date top-selling car model, the MIA added.

New Zealand is one of several countries from which financier GMAC is withdrawing from the auto sector. Operations will close, along with those in neighbouring Australia, by the end of the year.