A lot of boom, a bit of bust

Last year provided a record count of new vehicle registrations, yet not every brand had cause to celebrate. For some, 2017 was a stinker - today we reveal the individual performances and talk to the distributors about what caused delight, and what caused dismay.




2016 registrations: 106
2017 registrations: 123

16 percent up.

David Smitherman, chief executive of Ateco Group NZ, says: “The improvement in Alfa Romeo sales is a combination of new product and new representation in Auckland.

"The new product is Giulia, obviously, and it has been lauded worldwide as the best car produced by Alfa Romeo since the original Giulia, winning awards not just for the ultimate version, the Quadrifoglio, but also for the Veloce. For this version to be the new benchmark is, in terms of sales volume, is much more significant than the range topping version as it means we have a top car in its class where the volume opportunity is.

"Added to this, with the opening of Winger Alfa Romeo in Auckland, we have taken Alfa Romeo representation in the most country’s largest market to a new level. 

As for 2018? "Giulia is very much just the start because of the SUV-ification of the market place, with these vehicles dominating sales and in 2018 we will see the arrival of the Stelvio, a vehicle that has had even more praise heaped on it than the Giulia. It arrives into the market sectors that are showing the most rapid switch to SUVs, premium sports prestige. 

"These two new models are just the start of the reboot for Alfa Romeo with another SUV and smaller new Alfa Romeos very close to launch and of course rejoining the F1 Circuit will further bolster this historic brand with a true racing heritage that Kiwis love."


2016 registrations: 22
2017 registrations: 58

163.6 percent up.

Local spokesman Greg Brinck offered: “Aston Martin has always been a top performer in New Zealand. There has always been an element of passion/romance for the brand since the since early 1960s (James Bond etc).

“Brand loyalty is incredibly strong here as well. Uptake for the new DB1, our first all new car in 13 years, has been phenomenal with 37 deliveries last year. NZ has Number One market share for Aston Martin in the world. New Vantage due mid 2018 is showing similar tend to DB11.

“The company has been on a roll since chief executive Andy Palmer has been at the helm.”


2016 registrations: 1829
2017 registrations: 2060

12.6 percent up.

Audi grew 12 percent year-on-year in a premium market that only grew six percent year-on-year, meaning that Audi’s growth in 2017 was twice as fast as the market, suggests Audi New Zealand’s head of marketing, Robert Barlow.

“Audi sales growth can be attributed to a number of factors including product updates to 10 different models, the successful launch of the new Audi Q2, Audi Sport model sales continuing to grow due to the NZ market’s strong appetite for premium performance cars, excellent dealer performance nationwide and ongoing dealer facility upgrades.”


2016 registrations: 37
2017 registrations: 43

16.2 percent up.

Greg Brinck also speaks for Bentley here. “Bentley had a steady year with new Bentayga having a definite impact on increase over 2016. New Continental GT will have an impact this year with strong interest so far.”


2016 registrations: 1859
2017 registrations: 1954

5.1 percent up.

Says BMW New Zealand head of corporate communications, Paul Sherley: “For 2017 we experienced growth across a wide range of BMW models, and in the most parts this has certainly been driven by new product.

“In particular the launch of the new X3, launch of the new 5 Series range with both sedan and Touring bodystyles and lifecycle changes to the 4 Series range have all had a positive effect on volume in 2017.

“I’d also acknowledge the continued growth in electric vehicle activit with the new BMW 5 Series launching as a plug-in hybrid to further strengthen our wide-ranging EV product line-up. The launch of new i3 and i3s, along with updates coming to the i8 Coupe and the new i8 Roadster will further strengthen us in this area.”


2016 registrations: 1102
2017 registrations: 1284

16.5 percent up.

Also with Ateco and the count includes Abarth product. Smitherman contends: “Despite the presence of the much loved Fiat 500 and 500X, as well as the Abarth Spider, these are models competing in diminishing market sectors, so the 2017 performance of Fiat and Abarth is all the more encouraging.

“The 500X, which is very much at the soft end of the SUV sector, has won sales in a market where increasingly buyers want the looks of hard edged SUV, if not always the ability. And, of course, the Abarth Spider has not just won sales, but also hearts. In 2018 we hope to maintain this momentum, but it must be seen in the light of structural changes to the market as a whole.”


2016 registrations: 16,761
2017 registrations: 16,827

0.4 percent up.

Says Ford NZ corporate communications manager Tom Clancy: “There’s no doubt the Ranger was a phenomenal success for us in 2017 and it made up a large portion of our overall sales.

“That said, we don’t plan on taking the foot off the pedal of that one any time soon. In fact we only plan on improving on the Ranger and keeping it New Zealand’s favourite.

“Where we do plan on changing things is in passenger and SUV. The Ford Focus has seen a very good improvement in sales, reaching number three in its segment. But overall, despite having very good vehicles on offer, our SUV range and other passenger vehicles have not performed as well as we would have liked. It was a quiet year for us with only one new vehicle launch early on – the new Escape  - so that would have added to the challenge.

“The good news is 2018 will be a very busy year for Ford New Zealand with many new exiting vehicles arriving, including the new Endura ST Line, new Mustang and Ranger Raptor.” 


2016 registrations: 18

2017 registrations: 167

827 percent up

We were unable to secure comment from Great Wall.


2016 registrations: 14,335

2017 registrations: 14,411

0.5 percent up

Corporate affairs manager Ed Finn provided these thoughts. “Whilst Holden’s year-on-year increase might appear modest, we experienced a change in buyer type which meant that more private buyers (rather than  rental car fleets) became owners of Holden product throughout 2017. 

“We attribute this to an increasing range of desirable product with widespread consumer appeal, such as the all-new award-winning Astra range (hatch, sedan and wagon), bookended at the end of the year with the all-new Equinonx SUV.

“We’re now looking forward to what promises to be a very exciting year for Holden in New Zealand.  Not only are we launching the all-new Holden Commodore late in Q1, we will also launch an all-new large seven-seat SUV, the Acadia, towards the end of the year.”  


2016 registrations: 3954

2017 registrations: 4616

16.7 percent up

"The Honda Jazz, HR-V and new Civic range achieved solid volume sales for Honda 2017,” says Nadine Bell, general manager of marketing.

“New Zealand's love of SUVs saw the HR-V take over the top spot with 29.1 percent of sales in 2017. 

The addition of the all new Honda CR-V mid year has added over 1100 sales in 2017, well ahead of local sales forecasts. Growth is expected to continue in 2018 with the new CR-V for a full year and new product launches planned."


2016 registrations: 2639

2017 registrations: 2774

5.1 percent up

From Murray Greenhalgh, Isuzu Utes NZ boss: “2017 was a strong year for the Isuzu brand in the New Zealand market. Isuzu Utes New Zealand looks forward to this trend continuing in 2018.”


2016 registrations: 5286
2017 registrations: 6485

22.7 percent up

According to Todd McDonald, Kia general manager here: “The sales trend seen in 2017 is part of a long-term pattern of growth for Kia in New Zealand, built upon new and more exciting vehicles, such as the Sportage, Sorento and Rio, and backed by the development of a network of top-class dealerships around the country to support customers. 

“You can trace the growth back more than a decade, coinciding with the appointment of Peter Schreyer who took on the mantle of redesigning an exciting new range of Kia vehicles and the determination of Kia Motors to develop the quality of its products to support that strategy, which have been very successful.

“Around the same time, we put in place our own plans to maximise the potential of the Kia brand and ensure that the growth was built upon strong foundations. We expect the growth to continue in 2018, with our current top-selling products joined by the new Stinger performance liftback and, in a few months, the new Niro range of hybrids, which will be launching at just the right time in this market, with the increased focus on, and sales of, hybrid and electric vehicles. Kia, as a brand is in a very strong position going forward.”


2016 registrations: 64
2017 registrations: 132

106.3 percent up

Edward Rowe, media consultant to Maserati here, says the Levante has transformed Maserati sales in a market where SUV interest is very strong. “Some 90 percent of Levante owners are new to Maserati.

“This is just the beginning for this model. It has yet to have a full year in the market and was launched in just one variant, the Turbo Diesel. For 2018 it adds a Ferrari-sourced Twin Turbo V6, along with three new trim/equipment levels.”

Another reason for the lift is “our substantial improvement in local market representation, with the appointment of Winger Maserati in Auckland, and the major improvement in facilities at EuroMarque in Christchurch.”


2016 registrations: 11,217
2017 market share: 12,135

8.2 percent up

Glenn Harris, general manage sales and manager, Mazda NZ, explains: "2017 was a record year for Mazda with strong growth in both passenger and commercial sales; and pleasing to see nearly all of our dealer partners returning record results.

"This lift came about largely through continued growth in demand for Mazda SUV product with full supply of CX-9 as well as release of the all-new CX-5 – the result from which saw Mazda placed first in SUV sales and first in sales to private buyers where sales to rental companies and government agencies are excluded.

"We see good industry opportunity carrying through into 2018, albeit with a more modest growth rate. We look forward to expanding our brand value with a range of new product and service offerings, including release of the brand-new Mazda CX-8 later in the year."


2016 registrations: 24

2017 registrations: 33

37.5 percent up

Comments Luke Neuberger, sales manager, McLaren: “2017 was a terrific year for McLaren in New Zealand – with our fourth year being our most successful to date.

“A key event was beginning deliveries of the (much anticipated) 720S Super Series range.

“Late last year also saw the arrival of the all new 570S Spider which completed our Sport Series range.

“We are now looking forward to the first customer deliveries of the McLaren Senna in quarter three and quarter four.  With a significant order bank already in place, we are looking forward to an even stronger result in 2018.”


2016 registrations: 3435
2017 registrations: 3680

7.1 percent up

“We are incredibly proud to once again be leading the luxury segment for 2017,” says Mercedes Benz New Zealand’s general manager of cars, Ben Giffin.

“The growth from last year cannot be attributed to one single vehicle or campaign, but rather the strength of the model range, combined with the dedication to customer excellence from our retail network.

“While the C-Class range has continued to be our best-selling model, we continue to see our GLC-range growing strongly despite some supply constraints, and our A-Class continuing to help bring new customers into the Mercedes-Benz brand.

“This is most evident with close to 70 percent of our buyers for 2017 being new our brand, and coming from a range of manufactures not simply other luxury competitors.”


2016 registrations: 600
2017 registrations: 668

11.3 percent up

Says spokesman Paul Sherley: “MINI has also shown increased activity across the entire range as well, but in general this has been led by the introduction of the new Countryman. 

“The SUV segments are undoubtedly dominating the overall market and the new Countryman’s arrival has really broadened our product offering in this space.

“I’d also acknowledge the continued growth in electric vehicle activity, and with the Countryman launching as a plug-in hybrid, this further strengthens our wide-ranging EV product line-up.  Locally, electrified vehicles account for around seven percent of volume and I would expect this to continue increasing in 2018.”


2016 registrations: 9247
2017 registrations: 11,456

23.9 percent up

We were unable to secure comment from Mitsubishi


2016 registrations: 802
2017 registrations: 822

2.5 percent up

“The Peugeot volume has grown more than 57 percent in the six months since Auto Distributors took over its importation, distribution and marketing in June 2017,” brand manager Arek Zywot says.

“The performance turn around is largely due to the new Peugeot 3008 SUV, which contributed 60 percent of Peugeot’s sales for the last six months. We are confident to build on that growth in 2018 especially given the arrival of new seven-seat 5008 SUV.”


2016 registrations: 428
2017 registrations: 451

5.4 percent up

We were unable to secure comment from Renault.


2016 registrations: 4
2017 registrations: 8

100 percent up

We were unable to secure comment from Rolls-Royce.


2016 registrations: 1207
2017 registrations: 1279

6.0 percent up

“Kiwis are making the choice to buy more SUV orientated models and that’s where we are entering segments with real winners, right off the bat with the hugely successful launch of the New Zealand Car of the Year-winning Kodiaq.

“2018 will see another brand new SUV, the Karoq. The sales of Karoq will be limited by the production that we can get here in NZ. It’s the same with Kodiaq. We could have double Kodiaq sales if we had twice the available models. 

“Nonetheless, we have big growth aspirations in 2018 with both Kodiaq and Karoq making up to a little over 50 percent of our sales mix Last year Kodiaq claimed 25 percent of volume, due to limited production. We see great opportunity to further increase our market share and have more Kiwis fall in love with our brand.”


2016 registrations: 2660
2017 registrations: 3340

25.6 percent up

Says Wallis Dumper, managing director, Subaru NZ:  “Subaru had yet another stellar year in 2017 delivering close to 26 percent growth on an industry that grew nine percent. So, yes, we are very happy.

“More interesting is probably the fact we had serious supply constraints from Japan … we still have back orders and wait lists on some models.

“In the past five years we have grown 86 percent while the whole New Zealand market has grown about 41 percent in that time.

“2018 sees us being recognised yet again for this growth and more allocation providing us the chance to grow yet again. Many car industry people and economists predict the market may soften, we accept that whatever happens we want to try to reduce customer wait times and grow our business …

“SUVs will always dominate our sales … after all the Outback was the car that created this whole segment … and it (accounts for) around half our dealers sales. What we need to do is try and get more supply of our other Subaru models like the new Subaru XV and non SUV models (Impreza and Legacy sedan) so we can realise the growth potential.

“We also have hybrid and EV SUVs all on the future menu and Subaru of New Zealand is now placed as the number 15 Subaru distributor globally. That is pretty incredible when you consider that Kiwis buy more Subarus than countries like the UK with a 60 million population and it just shows that New Zealanders truly appreciate the invisible advantages of Subaru All Wheel Drive.”


2016 registrations: 5308
2017 registrations: 6983

31.6 percent up

From Suzuki New Zealand’s Sam Hewett: "The main area of growth came from our performance in the small SUV category where we grew by 74.6 percent.  

“This was largely due to the introduction of new and updated models such as Ignis and S-Cross.  Plus, some established models like Jimny also showed significant growth due to the market shift to small SUVs.  We will be looking to maintain our level of sales into 2018 and the introduction of the new Swift Sport provides a great opportunity for us to start the year well." 


2016 registrations: 24

2017 registrations: 244

916.7 percent up

Said a Tesla spokeswoman: “We won’t be commenting on sales figures per individual market as it’s not something we do at all globally.  I can confirm there are over 275,000 Tesla vehicles on the road worldwide.”


2016 registrations: 26,778
2017 registrations: 32,282

20.6 percent up

Steve Prangnell, who has just concluded 12 years as general manager of new vehicle sale, says: ““The strength of the Toyota product range and its appeal across a broad spectrum of customers has been the key contributor to our ongoing success. 

“Across all sales types - private, fleet, government and rental - Toyota was number one, a great performance that was delivered by the best dealer network in NZ.

“A large percentage of our overall volume was underpinned by a record sales year for Hilux, with a 22.6 percent lift over 2016. Corolla was the No.1 passenger vehicle, Hiace the No.1 van and RAV4 the No.1 SUV, reflecting further customer confidence in our product.”


2016 registrations: 5092
2017 registrations: 5577

9.5 percent up

Says Tom Ruddenklau, Volkswagen NZ general manager: “2017 was a solid year for the team at VW. Tiguan and Amarok V6 demand outstripped supply. The arrival of new Crafter stimulated the commercial vehicle business and the first of the E-Golfs found homes to patient purchasers.

“2018 is an exciting year, starting with our seven-seat Allspace, all-new Polo and a solid arrival of E- Golf. The Amarok 190, new Crafter variants and all-new Touareg will keep us busy for the second half. Two new dealership builds in Auckland will also boost activity and momentum.”



2016 registrations: 118

2017 registrations: 2

98.3 percent drop.

Another Ateco brand, so from Smitherman: “Chery is working on a new strategy both for export markets as a whole and in particular the right-hand drive markets into which it has launched.

“Until this has been resolved we have no new product plans. However, Ateco remains totally committed to the owners who have bought Chery products and we are committed to maintaining a full parts and service operation to support these vehicles.”


2016 registrations: 20

2017 registrations: 16

20 percent drop.

Chrysler is represented by Ateco, so over to Smitherman: “If Alfa Romeo is one of the great beneficiaries of the SUV-ification of the market place, then Chrysler, despite its superb 300, with the SRT being the epitome of an American muscle car, is battling the massive change in the market place and the drop in sales represents this.

“But, of course, with Jeep and Alfa Romeo, our New Zealand dealers have the ultimate SUV alternatives, the Grand Cherokee SRT and soon to arrive Trackhawk and the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. We expect Chrysler sales in 2018 to continue to mirror those of the large sedan market as a whole, a continued gradual decline, but this to be more than matched by growth in other FCA brands.

“Unfortunately, being left hand drive only, we do not have access to the model that  is driving Chrysler sales in the USA, the Pacifica.”


2016 registrations: 245

2017 registrations: 238

2.9 percent drop.

“Auto Distributors took over the importation, distribution and marketing of the Peugeot and Citroen brands in June 2017, since then the business has seen the Citroen brand grow 35 percent over the previous six months,” says product manager Arek Zywot.

“The Citroen brand is undergoing a rejuvenation with the old generation C3 and C4 ending their model life in 2017. Both these models will be replaced in 2018 with new generations and new derivatives throughout 2018.”


2016 registrations: 486

2017 registrations: 271

44.2 percent drop.

Chrysler’s blue collar equivalent is also with Ateco. Says Smitherman: “Unfortunately, again like Chrysler, we do not have access to the models that are driving Dodge forward in the USA, the Challenger, Charger and Durango SRT. We hope this will change, but at the moment we see a gradual decline in Journey sales.”


2016 registrations: 33

2017 registrations: 25

24.2 percent drop.

We were unable to secure comment from Ferrari.


2016 registrations: 8376

2017 registrations: 7892

5.8 percent drop.

Hyundai Motors NZ general manager Andy Sinclair says: “We were very happy with the result of 2017 despite the small decline in registrations.

“This was driven by a combination of supply issues in quarter three along with a lower volume of rentals which was in line with our plans. We are looking forward to 2018 with a significant line-up of new products including the i30 N, all-new Santa Fe and Kona EV.”


2016 registrations: 371
2017 registrations: 354

4.6 percent drop.

We were unable to secure comment from Jaguar.


2016 registrations: 1554
2017 registrations: 1254

19.3 percent drop.

Also Ateco, so from Smitherman: "In terms of volume, the 2017 numbers came in as expected for Jeep. We were always going to see a drop in Jeep sales while we awaited the arrival of the all-new Jeep Compass. The highlight from the Jeep brand was the Jeep Renegade, with sales up 350% year on year as we sold over 300 of this fantastic and capable SUV into New Zealand homes.  

"Of course the good, no, the great, news for 2018 is the arrival of the new Jeep Compass. This is a much more compelling product in every way than the previous car, both in terms of the traditional expectations of a Jeep – we have a full trail-rated Trailhawk version for the first time – and in terms of the much broader range of customer expectations now in the market sector in terms of comfort, features and equipment. In short we have an excellent product that is a baby Grand Cherokee that will get us fully back into that sector.

"That’s just the start, we will also have the new Cherokee in the market sector above the Compass, that will reinforce our position in that sector; the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, the ultimate SUV, will arrive offering unparalleled levels of performance in an SUV and, at the end of the year, the all new Wrangler. Its still everything you expect from the ultimate 4x4 by far, but at the same time more useable, more flexible and more capable. Without doubt it will bring many new clients to this vehicle.

"The Wrangler and Trackhawk will also be unique and remarkable ‘hero’ or ‘halo’ vehicles for the brand, raising interest and awareness in and of Jeep that will bring many new clients to the brand for the other models.

"Locally we will be expanding our customer and owner engagement programmes with displays and drive programmes that will enable us to fully show to owners and potential owners why a Jeep is the original SUV and remains the best. From Renegade, through Compass, Cherokee and Wrangler to Grand Cherokee, Jeep will offer the most complete, most capable and ultimate legendary 4x4/SUV range available in New Zealand


2016 registrations: 21

2017 registrations: 17

19 percent drop

That man Brinck again: “Lamborghini was steady again 2017 with an increase of pricing December, 2016, probably had an impact. Urus is due in the third quarter of 2018. We will see a significant jump in numbers. The pre -orders for Urus show that this SSUV will be a big seller here in NZ.”


2016 registrations: 1234
2017 registrations: 1178

4.5 percent drop

We were unable to secure comment from Land Rover


2016 registrations: 719
2017 registrations: 712

1.0 percent drop.

From Paul Carroll, Lexus New Zealand: ““2017 proved to be a challenging year for Lexus sales as competitors introduced new models.  However hybrid sales were still very strong with over 40% of sales powered by our world leading hybrid electric technology.  

“We have three new model Lexus introductions during 2018, the class leading large LS500 sedan, the new mid size ES sedan and the new 7 seat RXL SUV.  These introductions, along with two new dealers in Hamilton and Queenstown, will make for a strong 2018 for Lexus.”


2016 registrations: 4
2017 registrations:

25 percent drop

We were unable to secure comment from Lotus.


2016 registrations: 15
2017 registrations: 9

40 percent drop

We were unable to secure comment from MG.


2016 registrations: 8624
2017 market share: 7842

9.1 percent drop.

We were unable to secure comment from Nissan NZ.


2016 registrations: 459
2017 market share: 355

22.7 percent drop.

“2017 we saw a decline over 2016,” concedes Greg Clarke, Porsche general manager. “However 2016 was our largest year ever, and 2017 actually our third largest year ever.

“The decrease can largely be put down to two key factors, the model life cycle of our SUV range and lower than required 911 production.

“We anticipate increased volumes in 2018 (over 2017), subject to the supply of the new Cayenne, which we are launching mid-year, and increased 911 production.”


2016 registrations: 2361
2017 registrations: 1387

41.3 percent drop.

Brand activation manager Andrew Bayliss says: “There were a couple of factors which accounted for the Ssangyong  volume decrease from 2016 to 2017.

"Firstly, during both 2015 and 2016 we took a strategic approach to getting into the rental fleet business. During both of those years, we put roughly 600 units annually into rental fleets. The primary reason being that in order to have a profitable, viable and sustainable dealer network, it was necessary to provide dealers with a good source of quality used vehicles. Given that up until the time GLMD acquired Ssangyong distribution for New Zealand, there was a very small Ssangyong carpark, so there was a very limited source of quality used vehicles for our dealers to build sound used vehicle operations with Ssangyong product.

"In putting cars into rental fleets, we were able to bring vehicles back into stock at the conclusion of the rental term that were around a calendar year old or so, refurbish them to a high standard and retail them through our dealer network with a three year warranty as Ssangyong Certified “Brand Spanking Used” (BSU) vehicles. We’d much rather our dealers sell quality used Ssangyong product and have customers experience our own product than allow our dealers to sell alternative used vehicle brands, and accordingly the BSU model has been a huge success, and we average around 60 units per month (720 per year).

As we continued to de-fleet used rentals throughout 2017, we now have a decent but very manageable stock of used vehicles that we can monitor on a month by month basis, so in 2017 we exited the rental fleet market.

"Secondly, as Actyon ute has been in the runout phase, the factory saw no need to upgrade the petrol model to meet New Zealand’s newly introduced Euro 5 emission standard, so we were forced to drop the petrol Actyon from our range as it could only be supplied in Euro 4, so was no longer compliant. Therefore the 200-300 petrol utes we were retailing each year were cut from out range. In addition, Korando was on limited supply for a few months, plus of course, we were running out Rexton.

"So, as you can see, exiting the rental market and deleting petrol Actyon from the range accounts for the 1000 or so reduction in Ssangyong new vehicle registrations, but of course, what the stats don’t show is the sale of 700-odd of those 2015/2016 registered vehicles via the BSU programme.

"Will the trend will continue through 2018? We believe the answer is probably that the 2017 retail volume is about right, if the BSU programme is in need of a top-up, we can re-enter the rental business very easily. Of course, we are running out Actyon at present, with Musso arriving mid-year, so once we’re out of Actyon (no pun intended!), we may have a dry period in our ute volume until supply of Musso comes onstream."


2016 registrations: 607
2017 market share: 540

11 percent drop.

Comments Coby Duggan, Volvo Car NZ general manager: After three consecutive record years (2014, 2015, 2016) we started 2017 with aspirations of a fourth consecutive record, but were acutely aware that it was a long shot…at the outset the factory set our 2017 target below the 2016 total given production capacity couldn’t keep pace with demand. So supply constraints for XC90 in particular, combined with the XC60 run-out, made for a particularly challenging middle 6 months of 2017. However, we’re definitely in pursuit of another sales record in 2018 with the launch of the all-new XC40 and improved XC60 and XC90 availability – supply permitting of course!”

  Note: Haval, LDV and SEAT are not listed because their car/ute operations started up during the year.