New vehicle sales strong

01:22, Jun 07 2012

New vehicle sales remain strong with May sales well ahead of year earlier numbers.

Registration figures show 5,942 new cars were sold in May, up 1407 or 31 per cent on the same month a year ago.

For the first five months of the year new car sales are up 20 per cent on the same time in 2011.

Commercial vehicles were also strong in May with monthly total new commercial vehicle sales up 17 per cent to 2,364 and up 4 per cent on the start of 2011.

Motor Trade Association spokesman Ian Stronach said the car sales were a ''leading economic indicator'' and the strength was surprising some in the industry.

''It seems almost disproportionately strong compared to other sectors. If you look at retail in general it's just chugging along, but these [figures] sure are big numbers. We're encouraged and it's showing no signs of tailing off,'' Stronach said, adding however that retail prices had fallen in recent years to take account of a touch economic climate.

New car sales are dominated by business buyers, many of which had delayed upgrading the fleet during weak trading periods, but could now use new car sales to show confidence, Stronach said.

''It's a very overt way to exude confidence about your business. What better way is there to say you're doing well than to upgrade your ute or whatever you're driving.''

Toyota, New Zealand's biggest selling vehicle company for a generation continued to dominate, leading its rivals in both the car and commercial vehicles, with 600 Hilux sold in May.

The biggest selling car was the Suzuki Swift, at 286 units, part of a long term shift towards smaller vehicles.

Used car registrations - the best measure of used cars being imported into the country - were lower in May than the same time a year ago, the fifth straight month of lower imports.

New emission standards which prevent most Japanese cars manufactured prior to 2005 from entering the country are being blamed, however the 7 per cent fall in the first five months of the year is much lower than the industry had warned.