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Passenger car sales posted their own set of new records in May with buyers choosing larger and luxury models more often. Electrics and hybrids remain a minor market segment

Passenger car sales posted their own set of new records in May with buyers choosing larger and luxury models more often. Electrics and hybrids remain a minor market segment
Sales of luxury SUVs reached a new all-time record high in May 2021

Sales of new passenger cars continued at a feverish pace in May, reaching a record for the month of May at 10,012.

This extends a string of records that began in February.

Obviously the year-on-year gains aren't so relevant, but May 2021 compared to May 2019 is up 31%, and compared to May 2018 (the previous record) it is 8% higher. Sales for the first five months of 2021 are also the strongest on record.

This is actually even better than it sounds, given that sales into rental fleets remain very low.

SUV's grabbed a 75% share, and while not a record, it is at the very upper end. Within those SUV sales, those in the luxury category were at an all-time record level for any month.

The most popular passenger vehicle sold in May was the Toyota RAV4.

But the largest seller of any model was a ute, the Ford Ranger. Commercial vehicle sales were not as strong as 2018 and 2019, but back up to more normal levels after the pandemic dive in 2020.

The same is true of used car imports with 11,257 sold in May 2021, although that's 8% less than May 2019, and 16% below May 2018.

There were 276 new pure electric vehicles sold in May, 120 new PHEVs (plug-in hybrids), and 1,232 new hybrid cars sold in May 2021. That's a 16% share of all new car sales. This category is rising but only as fast as the sales of internal combustion engine vehicles.

New vehicles sold

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Source: NZTA
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Source: NZTA
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Source: NZTA
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Source: NZTA
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Source: NZTA
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Source: NZTA
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Source: NZTA
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Source: NZTA

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27 Comments

"The most popular passenger vehicle sold in May was the Toyota RAV4."

...and yet I can't even picture one in my head. Cars are all evolving toward a nexus of meh.

Can't travel overseas, might as well tick up a flash status symbol. Great way to make perceived equity evaporate but bodes well for those of us who see no shame in buying a 3-5 year old car.

It's a mid-sized SUV that is larger than an UrbanCruiser but smaller than the Kluger. A Toyota is typically a good choice for reliability because of TPS, it's not surprising they are popular.

Obviously the public aren't buying this "climate crisis" if they are picking SUVs and Utes over economical cars. James Shaw will be very disappointed with them.

Oh I know what a RAV4 is, of course, I just couldn't sketch one. A 1990s one, yes, current model...couldn't point one out in a line-up if the badges were covered. Maybe this is what getting old feels like.

They're very distinctive. Angular lines, black detailing, big grill. Nice looking for a Toyota!

The upcoming PHEV does 0-100 in 5.8 seconds too! Not bad for a big family wagon.

We took delivery of our new Rav4 in May. Ordered in January. Toyota probably had a whole boat chartered for their order book which is why their sales are up in May.

The EV numbers are highly distorted as Tesla shipments don’t reach NZ customers until the final month of the quarter (which is June) - they are built in China/US in the first month of the quarter, then spend another month getting here by ship, and then are delivered in the 3rd month. Same thing happens every single quarter. In fact the Tesla carrier arrived a few days ago and several hundred model 3 cars rolled off onto Auckland wharf, and all but 20 were pre-sold (there are currently 20 model 3 sitting as inventory sitting on Tesla’s website for immediate delivery).

13
up

New cars are a waste of money...... unless you put a high value on status.

Better to buy a used banger - and let the first owner suffer the heavy initial depreciation.

TTP

I don't care about status, but I enjoy the safety, reliability, and efficiency of a new car.

Househunter. Agreed. I'd add comfort and the simple joy of new and improved technology. Then there is old fart syndrome that says I'll be dead soon enough, this may be my last car, don't give a rats about depreciation. Ordered a new Toyota SUV recently, delivery Christmas. The salesman looked sniffily down his nose at me, take it or leave it, plenty more queuing up to buy them.

Good luck to you, house hunter...... Hope you have some moolah left over to buy a house after your new car purchases.

TTP

I managed to hunt down a house a while ago thanks TTP!

Thanks for the update, house hunter.

You're a wise guy to have a bought a home!

Well done!

TTP

house hunter,

So, somehow a 2/3 year old model isn't safe, reliable or efficient? Rubbish. I always buy low mileage models-my current one being a Honda HRV and it has all the features of a new model.

Note that I was replying to TTP who recommended buying a "used banger" which sounds a little different to your choice. For sure it's possible to buy a great lightly used vehicle. That's assuming what you want is available, hasn't been pranged, and has a good service record.

Still, even 2-3 years can make a difference. My 2019 vehicle has much better safety features than the 2016 one it replaced (both same make & model). Won't always be the case, but tech is still moving along. I expect my next vehicle to be safer, more reliable, and more efficient than my current one.

Happy driving!

Tax?

New cars are great when you get to the point in life you have loads of cash and no longer want to get your own hands dirty working on it because it constantly needs things done on it. Been there and done that and waiting for a particular Subaru to be released. Nothing to do on a new car for like 5 years just the oil and filter changes and piece of mind motoring when your out in the middle of nowhere. Its an age thing, spend that cash you cannot take it with you when you die.

That's our logic with our recent new Rav purchase. We've always had old cars well over 150,000km when bought but they can start costing a bit over 200km as things start breaking.

Hybrids are indeed a small segment but as fuel prices increase as they likely will they deserve consideration.I replaced my ageing Honda Accord with a Toyota Crown, same size engine slightly larger than the Honda which returned 8-10 Kms/100K , the Crown averages 25/30Kms per Ltr or 3.5-5 Kms/100K for those mathematically challenged. I reckon the new Honda Jazz Hybrid with sub 2L/100Kms will be a big hit in NZ for the older driver and the city commuter.

>or 3.5-5 Kms/100K for those mathematically challenged.

Ironic

Are the car carriers still moving from Japan to NZ? Used luxury cars are still going for a song in the auctions there. Is there just so much money in NZ that nobody really cares about price anymore?

Have to have a high ride height in Auckland now otherwise you’ll never see past back of the car in front of you in traffic.

Yeah SUV's are a pain in the ass to follow. There was once a time you could change lanes and avoid them but no more.

And long travel suspension for the "traffic calming measures" the council is throwing in at horrendous cost everywhere.

Do you need to upgrade the lowered Nissan Skyline to a corolla Pragmatist?

I bought my first ever used car last month.
Bought my first car brand new when I was 20 (a new Mitsubishi Lancer), because I wanted something reliable and cheap to run for university and I was flush with cash after a few years milking cows.
Now have changed careers and decided I didn’t really need a Ford Ranger anymore and didn’t see anything else that interested me new, so bought a tidy used import Subaru boy racer car... 300hp turbo engine, fancy aftermarket suspension and all the rest. Noisy and rough riding but wow is it fun to drive after driving nothing but diesel utes for the last 10 years or so!
Amazingly I bought the Ranger new in 2016 for $52k, and used prices have gone up so dramatically I will probably still expect $42k for it when I get it up on TradeMe in the next couple of weeks!

Yep waiting for the new 400Hp Subaru STi to be released in 2022. Great cars to drive on our crappy roads.

Just be careful they are thieve magnets.

I had a Subaru GT turbo wagon and it got broken into and stolen 3 times in a year. After the 3rd time my insurance refused to insure it and I had to sell it