Despite “a softening market with ups and down during the year”, 2018 was the fifth consecutive year of record new vehicle registrations in New Zealand, the Motor Industry Association (MIA) said.
December sales were down 3.6% year on year to 11,150 new cars and commercials but 2018’s tally was up just over 1% to 161,519.
Registrations of new passenger and SUV models dipped 0.4% in to 108,213 while sales of commercial vehicles rose 4% to 53,557.
Notably, NZ remained a big market for used car exports, mainly from Japan, with 136,576 passenger models registered last year, 28,000 more than cars sold new.
In December, Toyota remained overall market leader with 26% market share (2,900 units), followed by GM Holden (9%; 1,012) and Mitsubishi (8%; 909).
Toyota also topped passenger and SUV registrations with a 28% share (2,175 units) followed by Holden (10%; 772) and Mazda (9%; 712). The top selling models were all Toyota – the Corolla (732), RAV4 (515), and Highlander (325).
In the luxury passenger and SUV sector, Mercedes-Benz was again market leader with 2,251 registrations, followed by Audi (1,811) and BMW (1,649). However, sales softened during 2018 which, the MIA said, signalled “a distinct pending softening in the rest of the vehicle market”.
In commercials Toyota also was the market leader with 21% (725 units) followed by Ford (19%; 647) and Mitsubishi (12%; 405).
The Ford Ranger remained best selling commercial model (17%; 604 units) ahead of its arch-rival Toyota Hilux (17%; 588) and the Mitsubishi Triton (12%; 405).
The Ranger also, for the fourth consecutive year, was both top selling commercial and top model overall with 9,904 registrations, up 484 units on 2017. The Hilux was next with 8,086 registrations, up 980, while Toyota’s Corolla was the third highest selling model and top passenger car with 7,300 sales.
SUVs and light commercials again dominated the market.
“Given current global economic factors, distributor expectations for 2019 indicate a softening of the market. Further steady growth in the new vehicle sector [above the 2018 result] was not expected,” the MIA said.