Vehicle sales reflect confidence
Timaru's car dealers say greater confidence in the local economy has led to a rise in vehicle sales.
The Motor Trade Association's year-end summary revealed an increase in Timaru in sales of new, used and import vehicles.
Last year, there were 695 new passenger vehicle sales in the Timaru region, up 5 per cent on the previous year.
Toyota's Corolla was the most popular individual model in the region followed by another Toyota, the RAV4, and Hyundai's Santa Fe.
South Canterbury Toyota sales manager Mark Patterson said trends in Timaru appeared to be positive.
"We've noticed a lot more tradesmen purchasing cars over the last year. This is usually a good sign there is more money about. Farmers have to purchase vehicles for work, so they tend to be pretty steady customers," he said.
Mr Patterson said it had been steady over the past few years, but numbers appeared to be getting back to pre-2008 levels.
"We're seeing the major gains in greater Canterbury, but Timaru appears to be in a good bubble right now," he said.
"The challenge is to keep informing customers of new products coming out."
Meanwhile, Timaru recorded 840 sales of used imported passenger vehicles sales - a 15 per cent gain on 2012, although this was some way behind the 26 per cent growth recorded nationally for this segment of the market.
Autoworld Timaru sales manager Tony Meggitt said there was a trend toward people buying sports utility vehicles (SUVs).
"It's a South Canterbury thing, people are trading in their larger, gas-guzzling vehicles for something more efficient and compact," he said.
"They want something you can tie the boat to but is also easy to drive."
According to the MTA, Mazda's Axela took out top spot in terms of the most popular used imported passenger vehicle ahead of Nissan Tiida and Suzuki Swift.
There were 456 new commercial vehicles sold, 103 more than in 2012 - a strong increase of 29 per cent, and in line with the national increase in this segment.
Toyota's Hilux was the top selling individual commercial vehicle followed by Ford Ranger and Holden Colorado.
Sales growth of on-road motorcycles was more restrained.
In Timaru, 82 units were sold - just seven more than in 2012.
- The Timaru Herald