New car sales keep dealers busy

Increased sales of new cars in Nelson are another sign of an economic recovery, dealers say.

Figures from the Motor Trade Association (MTA) show a 24 per cent increase in new-car registrations for passenger vehicles in Nelson, and a 12 per cent increase in registrations for new commercial vehicles.

The lift follows better news in the region's construction industry, with building consents in recent months up on last year, and firms eyeing a gradual improvement this year.

MTA communications manager Hamish Stuart said the overall trend was positive.

"Increased new commercial vehicle purchases are a direct positive indicator of growth in the economy, and the new passenger market has grown a lot faster than GDP, also a positive sign."

Nationally, the new passenger market was up 20 per cent, compared with 2011, and new commercial up 16 per cent.

Nelson dealers agreed that the trend was towards increased sales.

The Car Company had recorded the biggest increase in sales for SsangYong dealers in the last quarter of 2012, earning managing director Shane Drummond a trip to the SsangYong factory in South Korea.

The prize was part of a nationwide sales push by SsangYong.

Mr Drummond said he was proud of his team's efforts, and he was looking forward to the trip. "They, too, have recognised the strength of the brand and how it complements our existing business."

The increase in sales suggested an overall recovery, he said.

"It certainly feels that way to us. Our business is performing well across all branches and we have already met our January targets for SsangYong."

SsangYong marketing manager Samantha Farr said the Car Company in Nelson had been a dealer for SsangYong only since November 2011, so its performance was impressive.

"We have been really pleased with how it has been representing our brand. [The Car Company] is exceeding its targets."

SsangYong specialised in SUVs and utility vehicles, which were popular models in regions like Nelson, she said.

Nationwide, the company had enjoyed a 58 per cent growth in sales in 2012, compared with 2011, she said. "Hopefully, it's a sign that the economy is settling."

Bowater Toyota chief executive Tony Bowater said sales last year had increased compared with 2011, with sales of the Hilux brand particularly strong.

"We're very pleased. We hope there's certainly a lot more confidence in the market.

"People are very much aware that it's steady as she goes and it will continue."

January had been the same, he said.

"It's been busy, with a constant stream of inquiry, which is good."

MS Ford dealer principal Alan Kirby said his dealership had also had a good year, despite frustrations caused by demand exceeding supply. "We have had a better year. Certainly the market is on the way up."

The increase could have been a result of people who had previously delayed purchasing a new car finally taking the plunge, he said.

"I think people had been holding off a while."

Nelson Bays Holden and Nissan general manager Garry Dayman said new-car inquiries were very strong in 2012.