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Car Talk By Jack Biddle

Change in purchaser behaviour.

In March 2022, the total monthly, new vehicle registrations were the highest on record, mainly due to the pending introduction of the Clean Car Discount (CCD) fees which impacted heavily on the light commercial fleet.

Roll forward twelve months and total registrations for March 2023 saw those numbers tumble quite significantly, down 23.8% (5,007 units).

No real surprise then that the biggest hit was taken by the drop in registrations of commercial vehicles which were down a whopping 55.5% (5,451 units). While the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux still sit in the top three registrations overall for the month of March and YTD (year-to-date) by a large margin, their numbers seem to be declining mainly due to the big spend 12 months ago.

To underline the change in buyers’ behaviour currently, registrations of passenger and SUVs increased by 4% (444 units) in comparison to March 2022.

Motor Industry Association Principal Technical Adviser, Mark Stockdale, says the year-on-year comparison illustrates the effect government policy can have in changing purchaser behaviour. “March 2022 light commercial vehicles sales were the strongest ever but have since struggled to regain strong performance with the impact of the CCD fees most of these vehicles now attract.”

There is another noticeable change in the wind currently also with the trend to the smaller end of vehicle size continuing with 60% of vehicles registered for the month of March this year being medium or smaller.

Other key points for March 2023 sales

• There were 2,656 BEVs, 515 PHEVs and 2,503 hybrid vehicles registered for the month.

• The Tesla Model Y was the top selling vehicle overall with another fully electric model, the Chinese brand BYD (Build Your Dreams) Atto 3, rounding out the top three car and SUV registrations.

Market leaders in March / 2023

Toyota retained the overall market lead for the month of March with 17% market share (2,650 units), followed by Ford with 11% (1,714) units and Hyundai with 8% market share (1,256 units). Kia came in only one unit behind Hyundai.

For passenger and SUV sales in March, Toyota regained that market lead with 14% market share (1,578 units) followed by Kia also with 11% (1,255 units) and then Hyundai with 10% market share (1,281 units).

BEVs, PHEVs and Hybrids - The top models were the Tesla Model Y (761units) followed by the BYD Atto 3 (617 units) and the MG ZS (307 units).

There is no doubt consumer buying patterns definitely change according to the market conditions, but it’s hard to see the popular commercial vehicles like the Ranger and Hilux falling off the charts completely anytime soon. A high percentage of commercial operators will need to replace their workhorses with like-for-like models for some time yet and will have to simply bite the CCD bullet come trade in time. There will be other ute owners however that may take a hard look at replacement options that do not include the high CCD fees in future.

Top 10 selling new/SUV models for March:

1, ​Tesla Model Y​​​ 761, 2,​ Hyundai Tucson ​​​648, 3,​ BYD Atto 3​​​617, 4,​ Toyota RAV4​​​ 545, 5​, Suzuki Swift ​​​510, 6,​ MG ZS​​​​ 463, 7,​ Nissan X-Trail​​​ 451, 8,​ Mazda CX-5​​​ 302, 9​, Honda Jazz​​​ 271, 10,​ Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross​​ 255.

Top Ten selling new/SUV models YTD:

1, ​Suzuki Swift​​​ 1323, 2,​ Toyota RAV4​​​ 1132, 3,​ MG ZS​​​​ 1008, 4,​ BYD Atto 3​​​995, 5,​ Tesla Model Y​​​991, 6​, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross​​ 891, 7,​ Hyundai Tucson​​​ 861, 8,​ Mitsubishi Outlander ​​659, 9,​ Nissan X-Trail ​​​654, 10,​ Honda Jazz​​​ 637.

It seems very clear by the YTD numbers so far, that the relatively newbie makes and models to the Kiwi market such as the MG ZS, BYD Atto 3 and the Tesla Model Y are certainly not one-month wonders and have quickly established themselves as serious players in the mainstream passenger and SUV fleet.

Top 3 selling new commercial models YTD are:

1, ​Ford Ranger ​​​​2988, 2,​ Toyota Hilux ​​​​2483, 3, Mitsubishi Triton ​​​845.

Talking to a Toyota salesperson recently, he said “Orders are still being pushed out for most popular mainstream passenger and SUV models due to high demand; however, they could get me into a new Hilux much quicker”.

Those comments pretty much sum up the current new vehicle market.


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