Car Love Affair Continues


The love affair Kiwis and Aussies have with cars continues. Sales of new cars are climbing - in Australia sales in 2010 rose to almost record levels. New vehicle sales there topped 1m for only the third time ever last year, with annual sales figures reaching the second highest level of all time.

The environment? Increasing petrol & diesel costs? To hell with that! Australian sales of 4WDs and SUVs surged by 25% with a total 232,285 sold last year, and their popularity now accounts for 1 in every 4 vehicles sold. Hybrids are a very size of the market although they are selling more in numbers- 9000 new models sold, up from 3040 in 2009.

In NZ, the Motor Trade Association says that despite starting from what was a historically low base, in 2010,  the new vehicle market showed steady growth ending the year 15% ahead of 2009 but overall sales in 2010 were still well below the levels achieved in recent years prior to the financial recession.

Registration data just released by NZ Transport Agency shows that new vehicle market sales for the  2010 calendar year were up 10,405 units compared to 2009. The overall new vehicle market for December, of 5,994 units, was down by 1,432 units (19%) compared to November, but up 959 (19%) units compared to December 2009.

New passenger car sales were up 7,625 units (14%) compared to 2009.  In December sales of 4,548 units were down 23% compared to November, but up 575 (14%) ahead of December 2009.

Aussies and Kiwis love new cars

In 2010,  despite a bad press year with recalls, Toyota continued to lead in new car sales maintaining a dominant 20% share of the passenger market to again finish as leader.  Ford followed with an 11% share heading off Holden who secured a 10% share for third.

Toyota Corolla with 4,890 units, maintained its stranglehold in terms of individual model leadership for the year, clearly outdistancing second place Suzuki Swift with 2,724 units. Holden Commodore came in at third place with 2,564 units followed by Ford Falcon not far behind with 2,407 units. Mazda 3 rounded out the top five place with 2,231 units.

New commercial sales finished the year with 18424, up 2,780 units (18%) compared to 2009.  In December sales of 1,396 units were down 111 units (7%) compared to November, but up 384 (38%) ahead of December 2009.

On the back of greater availability, rising consumer confidence and a relatively stable yen dollar cross rate, used import car sales were up strongly throughout 2010 up by 29% compared to 2009.

The exception to this improving trend has been the motorcycle sector.

Kiwis have stopped buying motorbikes in the numbers they used to do so. For 2010, sales were down by 23% compared to 2009. In December, sales of 529 units were up by 49 units (10%) compared to November 2010, but were down by 93 units (15%) compared to December 2009.

Meanwhile, who should check used cars coming into NZ and how? 90,000 are expected this year.

MAF this year will no longer do the inspections at the border,

NZTA’s preferred option is to appoint approved independent assessors that will provide inspection services both in New Zealand and in Japan.

Don Hutchinson, NZTA’s National Manager Vehicles says: “The proposed change will open up the provision of border inspection services to a range of service providers, ensuring a market driven competitive model. As part of this, we expect that we will be able to look at future opportunities for streamlining the procedure to make it quicker and easier to import vehicles as well as keeping compliance costs down.”

NZTA is canvassing motor industry views before making a decision by mid-year.




  1. Kurt says:

    I wouldn’t say NZ’s love affair with cars is continuing, we just by what we can afford and need, in our case Jap imports mostly.

    New car sales are really quite low and I think nearly 20% below last year. Compared to Aussie we have about a 5th of the population but well less than a tenth of new car sales. And thats a worry as new cars are safer and more environmental.

    Even used imports are way down on their heights a few years back.

    If you look at our fleet on any street NZ cars are old and getting older.

    And too bad for people who purchased motorcycles and scooters to beat the petrol price rises and running costs, Nick Smith’s heavy handed unfair ACC taxes have dealt to that form of transport..

  2. richard says:

    Kurt is correct the ACC levy increases stopped the rise in motorcycle sales in its tracks. A negative of ACC is that being a no fault scheme the accident victim is responsible for their injuries whether at fault or innocent and the levy struck accordingly.

  3. Matt says:

    Richard, the only reason ACC is levying motorcyclists as it is is because it’s an easy way of increasing levy income without raising levies across the board. It’s a departure from the scheme as originally envisioned.

    As far as the car love affair goes, how many vehicles were de-registered over the same period? There’s no data on the overall increase in the size of the vehicle fleet.
    If we say there were roughly 66k new passenger vehicles registered during 2010 calendar year (that’s taking what looks to be a mid-point of 5.5k/month), and compare that to population growth (Stats NZ says 50,600 in the March 2010 year), that’s about 1/3 more new cars than new people. Given that our population is growing, and aging, that means more people of driving age each year.

    I wouldn’t call registrations that’re roughly in line with population growth wildly out of kilter, especially since the vast majority of the population don’t have terribly good public transport available to them. Even Aucklanders who live along transport corridors struggle with weekends and evenings.

  4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by B121918 R15751819, AKT. AKT said: New car sales still booming in NZ & Aust. 25% of vehicles sold in Aust are SUVs. To hell with the environment! [...]

  5. DanC says:

    If these new cars are replacing older more polluting cars then that’s good. If the car “population” is increasing per capita then that’s bad! I do enjoy cars and driving. I don’t enjoy driving on the work commute, it’s bad for your car / environment and me! With an improved public transport system I hope many people choose to use public transport. I find it great and gives me the freedom after work to meet friends for drinks where I can have that one too many… (and train or bus home :-) )

  6. Joshua says:

    DanC – Agreed, I really enjoy driving full-stop, however would rather take public transport to work, mostly for the health of the car, productiveness of my work and personal health. Unfortunately Public transport is not feasible for me, I need to be at work 6:30 in the morning. Public transport is not very good in the mornings, I’m travelling from Newmarket to Onehunga/Mangere.

    In terms of ACC, although encouraging smaller more efficient vehicles could be arguably important I actually agree with the system, It’s important because of the significant injury cost associated with the Activity. ACC is effectively a compulsory injury insurance scheme where even now at the fee difference, car users are subsidising motorcycle ACC costs. So the fact that I can’t personally get away from owning a car, I’m forced into paying for injury’s from a person who is involved in a crash without sufficient protection.


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