Ignore V8s and Commodore still okay

The Commodore has been hit by another weak month of sale – Holden NZ’s reaction is to play with numbers.


A SECOND successive low volume month for Commodore doesn’t look so bad if the now defunct V8 component is ignored, the brand’s local distributor has suggested.

Holden New Zealand suggests if assessment of the count for last May exempts the eight-cylinder editions of the previous VF2 – cars that increasingly became important last year because they represented a ‘last chance to buy’ before the Opel-built replacement arrived – then the 119 unit accrual for last month is pretty much on par with the situation a year ago.

Spokesman Ed Finn has also suggested another factor for last month’s count.

He says uptake for the new ZB car is being hindered by limited supply of the flagship VXR liftback and Touring wagon models, which both run V6 and four-wheel-drive.

“There is significant interest in the VXR, but supply constraints mean we have very limited stock of this model available to us. We are also limited at the moment fulfilling demand for the all-new Tourer variant.”

He says the 166 unit count for May of last year included 48 V8s. If they were not considered, then the tally came to 118 units – one less than for last month.

“All things considered, the month-end result isn’t dissimilar from last year.”

The latest count nonetheless jars with the new vehicle industry body, the Motor Industry Association, having hailed the overall new vehicle registrations count for being the best ever for any May since record-keeping began in 1973.

The only month the new Commodore has affected sales commensurate with those for a corresponding month was in March, when it launched. It achieved 310 registrations enough to make it the country’s best-selling passenger car.

Even though that month was conceivably a transition period from VF2, Holden NZ attested most were ZBs.

Regardless, the pace fell savagely in April, with 79 liftbacks and 23 sportwagons – 102 cars - being registered. By comparison, national tallies for April of 2017 and 2016 were 161 and 174 respectively.

Is this just a matter of Kiwi buyers not finding ZB to their taste? Holden NZ has reminded that medium and large road-bound passenger model categories, into which this Holden falls, have been affected by the big consumer shift from pure cars to sports utilities.

Finn has acknowledged this, saying May “there was a shift from sedans towards SUV and LCV, such as Captiva (on run out) and Colorado.”

Commodore has also struggled to penetrate in Australia and this, on top of a general slump in Holden performance, saw a shock move with announcement on April 9 that Holden’s top sales and marketing job had gone to Holden NZ’s then boss, Kristian Aquilina, a Melbournite living in Auckland.

Earlier this week the brand announced another long-time employee, Marc Ebolo, will assume as Holden New Zealand’s managing director, effective July 1.

He has worked across sales, marketing and distribution, both in Australia and regionally for General Motors.