In a year where sales stepped lower, the top selling new car was an SUV, the Toyota RAV4, a model also available as a hybrid. EVs and hybrids rose to take 10% of December's market. Tradie ute sales fell

In a year where sales stepped lower, the top selling new car was an SUV, the Toyota RAV4, a model also available as a hybrid. EVs and hybrids rose to take 10% of December's market. Tradie ute sales fell

It has not been a year of records for car dealers. The number of passenger cars sold in 2019 was -3.6% lower than in 2018.

It may have been a year dominated by the SUV, which took 65% of the market, but they sold 67,569 units and that was marginally fewer than in 2018.

In the month of December, 8159 passenger cars were sold, 5183 of them SUVs. But only 175 of all cars were pure EVs, plus 35 plug-in EVs. That makes the EV segment taking only a 2.6% market share in the month - rising but still tiny. Hybrids did better taking another 8.5% share. Together they took 10%+ market share.

The most popular new car in 2019 was the Toyota Corolla although almost 60% of those sales were for rental fleets. The Corolla was followed by the Toyota RAV4 and more than a third of those went into rental fleets. In fact, if you exclude rental sales, the RAV4 was the top selling new car, followed by the Mazda CX5 and dropping the Corolla down to sixth spot.

Among commercial vehicles, the tradie utes dominated again with the same top four accounting for more than half of all commercial vehicle sales - the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, Mitsubish Triton and the Holden Colorado. But the sale of 4x4 and 4x2 utes fell -4.7% in 2019 from 2018.

The sale of new heavy commercial vehicles declined even faster - at 5809 for 2019 that was in fact -8.2% lower than for 2018. Since May, commercial vehicle sales of all types have fallen away quite sharply.

New vehicles sold

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Source: NZTA
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Source: NZTA

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I looked at the Rav4 Hybrid but the interior is plasticky and the engine is noisy. Plus there was a six month waiting list. Bought a CX-5 instead with no regrets

New cars are a complete and utter waste of money. Their depreciation is enormous - and the cost of insurance not much better.

I've stuck with my faithful Hillman Hunter and never regretted it. (People like to toot and wave as I drive by in style.)

Why keep car dealers in business? Much wiser to save for a house.


The “new” cyber truck by Tesla is probably more bulletproof than your Hillman Hunter. In the event of bio warfare or nuclear fall out That Hillman would be basically scrap whilst a new cyber truck would be worth its weight in gold (with its positive pressure hepa filters)! Ignoring those high tech advantages, should Iran cause a prolonged global fuel crisis, owners of new cybertrucks will be laughing hysterically at all the horrid folk without a conscience who like spewing carbon monoxide into the atmosphere whenever they drive anywhere.
Ps. I don’t know of any old car that has lasers for removing debris from their windshield.

Hi sadr001,

Yours are words of an envious man.......


Modern cars are a fashion accessory - ostentation to impress the neighbors and friends. A $30k kia is functionally as good as a $100k audi that cost $100+/day. If you care about cost of ownership then buying jap imports and running them into the ground is a pretty good option - costing just $5/day. PS the Hillman is a bad choice from a total cost of ownership perspective due to inefficiency and maintenance, not to mention an uncomfortable deathtrap that will kill or severely injure you in a big crash.

Another indicator of an economy turning downwards. last 3 quarters have annualized growth of only 1.6%. Rural downturn on back of proposed nitrate regulations is kicking in hard with many businesses laying off staff and farmers ceasing investment.

More likely people are deferring upgrades as the EV market is on the cusp of rapidly maturing. If you're an urban dweller you'd be nuts to be buying a new petrol or diesel powered vehicle right now. They will almost be obsolete by the end of the standard 5-7 year holding period.

Yep, that would be people like me, want to replace the car, but holding on till EVs get a bit cheaper and better, and local prices get more realistic.. the official importers are certain charging their pound of flesh for EVs/hybrids locally.

I only buy Jap imports, and the first EV I will own will probably not be built for 5-10 years (in my hands 5-10 years later).
That said my pick is that the change to EV is going to happen much faster than mainstream predictions would have you believe - market is very bad at predicting uptake of disruptive new tech as increasing volume rapidly drives price down, and battery performance and cost is inevitably going to improve at a fearsome rate as that market grows to be 50x current size - they will be cheaper than petrol within 5 years. VW group thinks only 10% new cars EV in 2025. I think it will be several times that.

I'm thinking we might go to a one EV one ICE household, need an ICE for a while yet for out of town trips without investing a fortune in a premium priced EV, but a crapbox of a Leaf would do for the work commuting and round town stuff, and never having to do plugs or an oil change again does sound good.

It's called the Osborne effect:
(Really good article on EV uptake and estimated time to EV-IC price parity for different segments of car market)

The world is converting to EV and renewables, fossil fuels will be obsolete because of the green revolution, we just need to get rid of the evil corporations and filthy rednecks who are holding us back from progress. Only stupid ignorant people are still buying petrol powered, what a joke, EV's are so cheap and getting cheaper while petrol is going up, up, up.

Maybe then petrol isn't nearly expensive enough, because 290,000 "stupid ignorant people" bought newly imported vehicles last year. People are literally watching a show about the Australian bushfires and going out and buying a new petrol car the next day (or even a whole fleet of them). The drop in petrol/diesel sales is a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed, as the whole fleet is still increasing rapidly, +140,000 vehicles per year in the fleet. Interestingly, the Motor Industry Association does support higher petrol taxes, I wish they would make that clear to their members and get them to pass it on to the buyers.

The MIA will support any regulatory changes that drive people to buy newer cars - like more stringent emissions regs or more expensive fuel.
Not driving cars into the ground has it's own large environmental cost as you have to use masses of new materials to build the replacement.
If you really want to drop fossil fuel use then end aviation - uses as much as land transport in NZ, biggest culprit being tourism. And given you are anxious to improve things I hope you are not using imported goods, foods, wine, fish, hot water, plastics of any sort or other luxury items - or don't you care about the planet?

A quick google of the environmental cost (and oil required) to produce one electric car should dispel any notion that driving will continue to be business as usual due to electric. This dream is utter bull dust. It ain't gonna happen, it's a media pipe dream.

Agree - running the 2006 Corolla down before the first EV purchase. That said its a great car and costs little in maintenance even on 200k. Got to laugh at the Tiger mums in there white (or Black SUV tractors)..such a fashion statement.

Cancer causing diesel particulate pollution will get worse before it gets better:
That we continue to allow Euro 5 emitting utes into the country is a real crime.
If I am not on the upwind side of the road I hold my breath whenever a diesel goes past. But there are so many of them on the road now that I find that at times I can't catch a breath often enough!

Reason is we can't afford not to have them and we sure as hell can't afford euro 6 vehicles

Given our ancestors have spend the last 100 thousand years huddled in smoke-filled dwellings it is surprising that the tiny amount of smoke released by modern cars and trucks that is rapidly diluted by ambient air and wind has any impact in sparsely populated NZ. One should be suspicious of naive linear extrapolations from toxin/carcinogen tests at very high exposures to very low exposure levels as they do not reflect reality (eg hormesis)

I wonder what the life expectancy of the average caveman was back then...

Quality > quantity

No; Quality * Quantity is what matters.


hunter gatherer life expectancy was not much different from, and in fact maybe even superior to 'civilised' man up until the 1800's when diseases started to be understood.

Geez you peddle some crap...
The caveman diet is a great diet if you want to live to be 30 or 35 years old. That was the adult life expectancy until very, very recently (indeed, it wasn't until well after the advent of agriculture that life expectancies began to rise—in agricultural communities!)

As an indicator of the wealth effect, car sales are very interesting. Some quite negative data out of Australia y'day with yoy sales growth some of the worst since the GFC. Unsuprisingly, income growth and the property market have been cited as factors. However, I did notice that the price points for cars typically out of the range of most where quite robust (for ex, Upper Large SUV > $100k up 37.5% and Sports Cars $80k - $200k up 10.8%).

I assume that car loan interest rates have dropped. If so just like housing, the normal response would be to hike pries.

No. In this environment, car dealers are more likely to be using discounting and promotions to close sales. Effectively, the cost of sales is going up for the manufacturer and the retailer.

I have been driving a BMW ev.
Like driving a steam iron.
Feels heavy, plasticky and poor handling.
Recharge is a pain.
Happy to give this present back.

Can I have it? Swap for a 2004 Nissan March?

BMW's are OK for first owners but I always advise friends about 2nd hand when they start to show high maintenance costs.

Yep, the bicycle wheel tyres which are good for economy but are rather sad for handling

That’s because BMW don’t know how to make good EVs. The i3 was good in 2014 but no longer. My Tesla Model 3 is quick, roomy, performs well and does 400km on a charge.

Did you charge at home? The convenience of having a fuelling system in your garage & starting each day with a “full tank” cannot be overestimated.

$80k for car when you could have had equal functionality from a $10k 2nd hand import without using tonnes of fossil fuels for manufacture and shipping - or ongoing electricity production (which in NZ's case is fossil fueled at margin). Are you a boomer environmentalist of the leafy suburb variety by any chance :)

There are another coupla factors in all this:

  1. The aging of the population plus the rise of the sharing economy amongst the youngsters. Both reduce the absolute demand, whether for EV's, SUV's or anything else. This is demographics at work and is not gonna be reversed anytime soon.
  2. The tapering off of housing and construction generally. The double-cab utes are good for 3-400k km's, so the need for new ones when the existing population is only halfway through its life cycle is naturally smaller. Plus factory built housing just doesn't need the plethora of tradies pootling around the sites as in the Days of Yore....

And my own experience is increasingly common: a good, ex-lease SUV, well (self) maintained, doing everything needed (towing, a bit of building, a lot of travel) and going to be run into the ground (225K on the clock, probably good for 350-400K) - so no new vehicles for me for 10-15 years minimum.......and when (if) that day comes, the price point will have to be sub $20K......