July marks a slow-down in New Zealand vehicle sales, with passenger cars and light commercials up just 4.5 per cent on July 2009. That's the seventh consecutive month of growth for the new vehicle industry, while used imports are also up, by 26.7 per cent over last July.

Toyota tops the sales table with 17.9 per cent share for the month, with Ford in second on 12.77 and Mazda third on 9.47 per cent, its second-highest market share.

Holden's fourth, while Nissan rounds out the top five for July.

Nissan managing director John Manley says July's slow sales were down to several factors. "Fuel and power prices have gone up; it's a cold winter; there was a big month in June, and NZ has had three consecutive months with business confidence down." Still, he sees growth as sustainable. "Globally the market is up which is a good sign; we all know that if things go south the first thing to go is motor cars."

The month's big mover was Mitsubishi, up 63.4 per cent, with the new ASX still to launch.

Honda is back in the top 10 with a 9.1 per cent increase - admittedly on an appalling 2009 figure. It's been hit badly by the decline in private sales, still down 30 per cent, and remains cautious. Honda NZ managing director Graeme Seymour says: "We're not expecting the market to be anything other than difficult for some time ... there is no magic around the corner."

Showroom traffic was key for some brands - Ford said interest in the 50th Anniversary Falcon models pulled buyers into other models.

Others cite fleet replacement, with companies that extended lease contracts last year now replacing their cars, while private buyers remain cautious. They're expected to buy in September before the GST increase, with a compensatory drop-off in October.

Many distributors are experiencing stock shortages caused by short ordering after last year's sales plunge - and by increased demand diverting overseas production.

Year to date the passenger and light commercial market is up 13.9 per cent.

The top three models for July were Ford Falcon, Toyota Corolla and Mazda3, with Corolla our favourite car this year to date, followed by Suzuki's Swift and Holden's Commodore.