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Despite a booming new SUV car market, pure EVs and plug-in hybrid versions struggle to gain sales traction in 2021. Used imports fade as well. But tradie utes shine with booming sales

Despite a booming new SUV car market, pure EVs and plug-in hybrid versions struggle to gain sales traction in 2021. Used imports fade as well. But tradie utes shine with booming sales
Toyota RAV4 hybrid, New Zealand's most popular hybrid is an SUV too

New car sales in February continued their January rebound, and were up a strong +10.1% above the February 2020 level.

Commercial vehicle sales rose at an even healthier clip, up +21% on the same year-on-year basis.

Part of this rise is the availability from industry restocking. And part is from buyers not being constrained by spending on international travel.

The largest selling models had a bias to tradie utes - the Toyota Hilux (786 units) topped all, followed by the SUV Mitsubishi Outlander (594 units) with the Ford Ranger in third place (542 units).

SUV's captured 76% of all passenger car sales in February.

And there were 181 pure electric vehicles sold in the month, 80 PHEV’s and 752 hybrid petrol-electric vehicles. Together, these are the New Energy Vehicle (NEV) category. That is a 11.6% share of all passenger cars, which is a 10 month low. And it is now below the rolling annual rate of 14.3%.

Having said that, new NEV's now consistently sell more than 1000 units per month.

In the past twelve months, 1692 pure electric cars have been sold and that is a tailing off from the 2000 level that was first reached in March 2020. In the same year, 732 new plug-in hybrids were sold and also a tailing off. On the same basis, 9312 straight electric-petrol hybrids were sold and this category is gaining in popularity because that is an all-time high and +44% more than the annual rate in February 2020. It seems buyers have strong "range anxiety" and are avoiding pure EVs.

Sales of new cars might be booming, but sales of used imports aren't. The February level was more than -15% lower than the year-ago levels continuing a trend that now stretches back for 12 of the past 13 months. The reasons for this atrophy are varied and include the impending raising of emissions and safety standards by New Zealand (requiring an upgraded type of vehicle from Japan), and the competition from entry of Australia into this market now that their local manufacturing protections have ended. Russia is also a stronger recent competitor. All these factors raise the cost of used imports and that challenges the "affordability" of these vehicles.

New vehicles sold

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The 'Passenger vehicle sales - Annual' chart will be drawn here.
Source: NZTA
The ' Passenger vehicle sales' chart will be drawn here.
Source: NZTA
The ' Passenger vehicles yoy%' chart will be drawn here.
Source: NZTA
The ' Commercial vehicle sales' chart will be drawn here.
Source: NZTA
The ' Commercial vehicles - Annual' chart will be drawn here.
Source: NZTA
The ' Commercial vehicles yoy%' chart will be drawn here.
Source: NZTA
The 'Used car imports' chart will be drawn here.
Source: NZTA
The ' Used car imports - Annual' chart will be drawn here.
Source: NZTA

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We are in the market for a used Nissan leaf as our second car. Our local dealer has only one new Leaf with a ridiculous price tag-$61,000 and no used ones. We are now waiting for them to come back to us when one appears.

It might pay to visit a specialist electric vehicle second hand importer, they seemed to be more knowledgeable to me than with a Nissan dealership when i was looking awhile ago. But in the end I did not buy a car from either of them, so not too sure if my impressions were valid.

currently 590 Leafs listed on trademe....

1998 corollas are $2000

五菱宏光 Wu Ling Hong Guang

produces the most affordable and best value for money elec cars.

I'll getting a second-hand Leaf from Japan once I can move on my current motor. Grown tired of waiting for subsidies or any such developments, despite them being 'just around the corner' for a few years now.

"Tradie" utes? That there is the Ponsonby Camry my friend. There is no better way to assert ones masculinity than driving a pickup truck.

You know you've got perverse incentives for businesses to buy utes when you spot Ford Ranger XLs sporting stickers of mortgage broking firms and ECE providers.


Mortgages are big and heavy, need a ute to move them around.

yep and if you cant get a mortgage for that overinflated house price, you can always sleep in the back of a pickup...just make sure you order a canopy.

Clearly a lot of people are feeling very wealthy judging by the massive demand for new or near new vehicles.
One of my friends just sold his 2018 Toyota LandCruiser for $20,000 more than he paid for it 3 years earlier, because there just aren’t enough new ones to buy. He had 10 phone calls about it and it was sold within 2 hours of being listed on Trademe.

The second hand market is running hot, sold my 2018 Ford Ranger Ute for only $4k less than I paid for it 3 years and 60,000 k's ago.


We don't buy many electric vehicles because we don't buy many new vehicles; and we don't buy many new vehicles because we don't get paid very much. The new standards for used vehicles are going to hit working-class households hard. Won't show up in CPI, of course.

good one absolutely right.

Jacinda, where's the feebate scheme to encourage EV purchases?

Seems to be OK to just shed crocodile tears for the media at question time, but never take any real action to address the climate emergency.

We're still waiting on a raft of promises made by team JA in the run up to the 2017 election, let alone the most recent one.

No surprises this government is spineless on major policy changes and puts all its eggs in the quick-fix basket (banning O&G exploration, fees-free first year, shutting borders, slowing down residence visa approvals, etc.).

Article could also be titled 'Car charging stations still a bit thin on the ground in NZ'

Actually, I've been pleasantly surprised how many there are. In ~18 months Taumarunui is about the only place that I expect to have one that didn't.

The map is much better. Think the nzta map just shows ChargeNet NZ connected stations and misses out all the others.

Lots around, use PlugShare to find them, although there are a few dead zones like Southern Westland.
There are also lots of free 50KW chargers around the Auckland region and they get pretty busy with Leaf and Tesla owners lining up for a free top up.

My RAV4 Diesel is now 8 years from new. I don't change cars often and will run it maybe another 4 years, maybe a bit more.
Perfect car for my use now. Mainly 100kph highway. Sometimes tow. Sometimes around a paddock - if it's flat.
Very keen on electric replacement, and can charge it off solar. With range and power considerations will probably end up with plug in hybrid, RAV similar.

You'd better hope they improve transmissions. Hybrids and EVs generally run on CVTs. Towing generally kills CVTs, although Toyota CVTs are less bad apparently.

And watertightness. Imagine backing yer boat into the salty with the EV ute, little swell pulses up to the floor pan before ya can get to the Go Pedal, and then - nada. And the tide's coming in. And the swell's freshening. Better hope yer Insurer is having a Magnanimous Day....

Because traditional utes don't have electronics that could be swamped? Just a bit silly.

Never going near the salty waymad. But seen plenty of petrol utes in trouble at the ramp.

EVs generally don't have transmissions. Electric motor torque curves are flat enough that they aren't required. A big advantage, not a disadvantage.

There are a lot of different hybrid systems. Some do have CVTs. But I would say that direction is not the future.

Yes. Was thinking about the ability to tow. Will check. And what's CVT?

Constantly variable transmission. A belt between two drums.

100 eh? That's speeding for the average Rav4 driver.

been buying hybreds for the last two years for healthcare workfleet -- massive savings on fuel -- but has to be hybred as simply not enough charging stations around -- too slow and not enough range -

Back to infrastructure - if it was there - people would buy more -- but until then ...

Half of the pure EVs would be Tesla Model 3. Apparently there are another 200 sold in March, which will take them close to 1,500 in 18 months. They are great cars (I own one) but that is not going to achieve what the Government want. BTW I still struggle to understand why NEV include non plug in hybrids. They are an efficient fossil fuel vehicles. Their inclusion hides the true situation.

Getting a bit peed off that electric car people arnt paying road tax yet.
Although this government has said nothing sods law says that the next day after buying electric the tax will be announced. On that day the depreciation of electric cars will go through the roof.
2 Ozzy states have announced the start of the road tax so its coming but we need to know when.

Most roading costs come out of rates and general taxation.

According to this document
most funding on roads come from RUC and fuel taxes, neither of which electric cars pay for.

Leaf owner here - happy to pay a fair and reasonable road tax, one that takes into account the reduction in pollution & CO2 emissions vs petrol/diesel vehicles.