New Zealand new vehicle registrations hit a record in 2018 for the fifth year in a row but the market is now expected to soften, the Motor Industry Association said.
"Given current global economic factors, distributor expectations for 2019 indicate a softening of the market. Further steady growth in the new vehicle sector above 2018 outturn is not expected," said MIA chief executive David Crawford.
The market has been buoyed by low interest rates, record migration and tourism arrivals.
While interest rates are set to remain low, migration is waning.
The latest data from Statistics New Zealand showed that annual net migration continued to ease off its record highs in October, falling to its lowest level in three years.
There were 161,519 new vehicles registered in the year, up 1 per cent or 1,648 units versus 2017, Crawford said.
Total registrations of passenger and SUVs for 2018 were down 0.4 per cent on the year but commercial vehicles were up by 4 per cent, he said. In December, new car registrations fell 3.6 per cent on the previous December.
Toyota remained the market leader with a 26 per cent share, followed by Holden with 9 percent and Mitsubishi with 8 per cent.
In the commercial sector, Toyota was the leader in December with 21 per cent of registrations, followed by Ford with 19 percent.
The Ford Ranger, however, retained the top spot as the bestselling commercial model both in December and for the fourth year in a row.
The Toyota Hilux was second.
In the luxury passenger and SUV sector, Mercedes-Benz retained the 2018 market leader spot, followed by Audi and BMW.
However, the market for these brands softened during 2018 compared to 2017, signaling a distinct pending softening in the rest of the vehicle market, said Crawford.The MIA represents New Zealand distributors of new cars, trucks and motorbikes.