Smaller cars now bigger players

By Alastair Sloane

Holden Commodore. Photo / Supplied
Holden Commodore. Photo / Supplied

What's selling: New Zealanders are switching to the light/small car market and its widespread line-up, plus medium and large SUVs.

Sales of large cars continue to fall away as New Zealanders turn to smaller models and SUVs.

Seven years ago, large cars such as the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon made up 25 per cent of the market. So far this year, they account for 8.6 per cent, down from 11.3 per cent in 2010.

Last year's numbers alone mean the big-car family segment has shrunk by roughly 60 per cent over six years.

The slide is less severe in Australia, but numbers there point to the Mazda3 unseating the Commodore's 15-year reign as the country's best-selling vehicle.

Commodore sales across the ditch at the end of October were down 9 per cent on the same period last year. Once, Holden rolled out 100,000-plus Commodores a year; now volumes have dropped to half that level.

New Zealanders, like Australians, are switching to the light/small car market and its widespread line-up, as well as medium and large SUV models. The light segment is made up of cars like the Mazda2, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Tiida; the small contains models like Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Volkswagen Golf and Mitsubishi Lancer.

The combined light/small segment broke through the 50 per cent barrier for the first time last month, with 51 per cent of overall October sales.

After 10 months of 2011, the light/small segment controls 45.7 per cent of the market, 0.1 per cent up on its share in 2010 and 20 per cent ahead of its 35.3 per cent slice in 2004.

The combined medium/large sector - Ford Mondeo/Ford Falcon, for example - has 22.6 per cent of the market so far this year, compared with 43.5 per cent in 2004. That segment has shrunk 47 per cent in six years.

Sales of compact SUVs - such as the Toyota RAV4 - are slightly down on last year, but medium-sized models such as VW's Tiguan are tracking upwards. Medium SUVs accounted for 10.8 per cent of the market in 2010 - at the end of October they were running at 13.2 per cent.

Sales of large and luxury SUVs are also up so far this year. Large models - Toyota Prado, Nissan Pathfinder, Mitsubishi Pajero - have doubled, from 0.8 per cent of the market in 2010 to 1.6 per cent at the end of October. Luxury models - Range Rover, BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz ML-Class, for example - are ahead of last year: 2.7 per cent for 10 months against 2.3 per cent for all of 2010.

- NZ Herald

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