New car sales hit 7-year high

DRIVE TIME: Sales in June were up a third on the same month last year.
DRIVE TIME: Sales in June were up a third on the same month last year.

New car sales are at a seven-year high on a wave of deep discounting, catch-up fleet sales and the end of supply shortages.

New vehicle registrations in June totalled 10,101, up by a third on the same month last year when production of many Japanese makes was disrupted by natural disasters in Thailand and Japan. The June total includes both cars and commercial vehicles.

Dealers put the rebound down to a mix of supply returning to normal, companies catching up on fleet replacement programmes, the annual agricultural Fieldays and strong competition for buyers.

King Toyota chief executive David Clarke said deals on new cars offering up to $10,000 off the window price "are exceptionally good" as the industry tries to keep sales going. Some new family sedans were selling for little more than $20,000.

The biggest discounts were available on end-of-line models and included lengthy warranty and free servicing periods to entice buyers who would otherwise have bought a late model used car, Clarke said.

While supplies of vehicles had returned to normal in the last two months, some of models of the popular Toyota Hilux ute range were still hard to get, Clarke said.

But most sales were to companies that had put off replacing their fleets since 2010 for economic reasons.

In some cases leased vehicles had hit the age limit of their contract and had to be replaced, Clarke said.

Motor Industry Association chief executive Perry Kerr said the new vehicle industry was "extremely bouyant".

While sales were expected to be up following last year's severe stock shortages, sales were particularly strong, he said. "June new car registrations were the highest since 2005 which was a peak in sales over the preceding 16 years," he said.

A total of 7142 new cars were registered in June, up a third on the same month last year.

Farmers buying at the annual Fieldays pushed up commercial vehicles registrations 29 per cent to 2959 last month.

For the year to date, new car sales were up 22 per cent with 38,145 sold while commercial vehicles were up just 9 per cent with total sales of 11,704.

Toyota remained the top selling brand in June with 1461 registrations followed by Ford with 766 and Holden 712.

Contact Roeland van den Bergh
Business reporter

The Dominion Post