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Commercial vehicles drive new car sales

NZN 2/05/2017 Paul McBeth

New Zealand's new vehicle sales continued to rise in April, driven by a record number of commercial cars sold for the month, says the Motor Industry Association.

Registrations of new vehicles rose 7 per cent to 10,635 in April from the same month a year earlier, led by a 16 per cent gain in commercial vehicle registrations to 3639, the MIA said in a statement.

Passenger car registrations rose a more modest 3 per cent to 6996.

MIA chief executive David Crawford said the increase showed the sector was still performing "above market expectations" and could have been even higher had some distributors not struggled with supply constraints.

"Monthly registrations of 10,635 vehicles were the strongest month of April on record, and only the second time since the MIA began collecting data that the month of April has surpassed 10,000 units," he said. "The other time was way back in 1982."

The market has been on a tear for the past three years, setting new records every month through that period as the country's relatively strong labour market has provided enough jobs for an expanding population.

At the same time, New Zealand's currency has been elevated against many of its peers, making imports cheaper for local consumers, although the kiwi fell 1.4 per cent in April on a trade-weighted basis.

In February, NZX-listed vehicle distributor Colonial Motor Co said the market continued to grow, with strong forward orders for heavy trucks and signs of new life in the agricultural sector.

The MIA figures show year-to-date registrations rose 13 per cent to 50,059. Japanese car maker Toyota was the most popular car in the year-to-date figures with 16 per cent growth in registrations, followed by US automaker Ford at 11 per cent.

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