Happy joy, market stable in April

The April car registrations count is out – a slight market dip has been shrugged off and Drive Happy seems to be working for Toyota.


MARKET leader Toyota New Zealand’s transition to a new selling technique appears to have hardly impacted on its anticipated tally for April, a month when new car registrations were down slightly on the same month of last year.

Toyota remained the market leader in a four-week period which provided a total market count of 10,423 new vehicle registrations, a result that was two percent down on April of last year – a month with provided the strongest monthly sales result since 1982.

The Motor Industry Association, which represents all new vehicle distributors, has reacted calmly to the shortfall – which amounts to 212 units. It says that, overall, the market remained stable.

MIA chief executive David Crawford also notes that, year on year, “the market is marginally up by 1.4 percent (704 units) compared to the first four months of 2017.”

“Registrations of 6848 passenger and SUV vehicles for the month of April were down 2.1 percent (148 units) on April 2017 and registrations of 3575 commercial vehicles was marginally down by 1.8 percent (64 units) on April 2017.” 

Anyway, about Toyota. The Palmerston North-based giant launched its haggle-free Drive Happy sales policy on April 1.

The impact on the market? Negligible. It remains New Zealand's new car market leader with 13 percent market share (1310 units), followed by Ford with 11 percent (1115 units) and Mazda with nine percent market share (893 units).

TNZ says this result is a sign that the Drive Happy Project is on target.

Nonetheless, it reckons this was a “relatively quiet start”, perhaps in reflection that in April of last year it achieved 1809 units and, in the same month of 2016, racked up 1569.

Last month’s count included a significant count of demonstrators going to the brand’s 24 stores, the new name given what were previously known as dealerships.

Drive Happy requires every story to have a fleet of demonstrator cars. This accounted for 195 cars, the brand says.

TNZ chief executive Alistair Davis says introducing the Drive Happy programme in April was partially by design.

He also notes the first month of the new financial year - April - is also slower for fleet, rental and lease business.

“This has allowed us to fine tune some of our system changes without the pressure of the usual larger sales volumes.”

He said customers had to get used to the idea of a Toyota Driveaway Price (TDP) - considerably lower than the previous recommended retail prices - with no haggling.

Although customers can still buy a new Toyota at their local store, with or without doing online research, inhouse study indicates many are making use of the improved online features.

TNZ says there has been a 10 percent increase in visitors to its website on the previous month, with 15 percent of those making use of the online car builder.

Interestingly, the April market result saw Mazda achieve rare status as market leader for passenger and SUV registrations with 11 percent market share (760 units).

Toyota was next with 10 percent (712 units) and Holden with eight percent market share and 540 units.

Ford regained the market lead in the commercial sector with 22 percent market share (803 units) followed by Toyota with 17 percent (598 units) and Holden with nine percent (312 units).

Four of the top five selling models for the month of April were light commercial vehicles with the Mazda CX-5 splitting the list in third spot. The Ford Ranger was back at the top of the bestselling vehicle model table with 745 units, followed by the Toyota Hilux with 457 units and the Mazda CX-5 with 317 units.

The top five segments were all light commercial vehicles and SUVs, reflecting the ongoing popularity of these vehicles. The Pick Up/Chassis Cab 4x4 segment came in as the top segment for the month of April with 15 percent market share, closely followed by the SUV Medium segment also with 15 percent.  

“The market for new vehicles remains at historically high levels with registrations underpinned by a range of economic factors,” Crawford noted.

“Net immigration, while reducing is still elevated based on long term trends, new vehicle prices remain competitive and the economy is stable.”