"With the continued high price of petrol, we are starting to see a small but discernible shift towards smaller vehicles," New Zealand's Motor Industry Association (MIA) said as it announced August 2018 sales data.

Last month's new vehicle registrations rose just 1% year on year to 13,200 vehicles though the tally was a record for the month, beating August 1984.

Year to date sales were up 1.7% to 105,681.

Registrations of 8,639 passenger and SUV vehicles last month rose 0.4% while sales of 4,561 commercial vehicles were up 2.4%.

Toyota remained overall market leader with a 17% share followed by Ford (11%) and Mazda (8%). 

Toyota also led passenger and SUV registrations with 15% market share followed by Mazda (10%) and Mitsubishi (8%).

In commercials, Toyota again led (21%) trailed by Ford (20%) and GM's Holden (9%).

The top selling August model was again Ford's Ranger (785 units) ahead of the Toyota Hilux (693) and Corolla (597), of which 381 were sold to rental companies as they started to 'fleet up' ahead of the southern hemisphere holiday and tourist season. 

Year to date, Toyota continued to dominate the rental market with its Corolla (1,522) followed by the RAV4 (1,127) and Highlander (851). 

SUV Medium segment remained top segment in August with a 16% share. Pick Up/Chassis Cab 4x4 and SUV Compact each accounted for 14% and small vehicles 11%.

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