New Zealand new vehicle sales rose 8.1 per cent in February to the highest level for 31 years, reflecting buoyant economic conditions.

New vehicle registrations rose to 9877 in February from 9139 in the year earlier month, the highest reading for a February month since 1984, according to the Lower Hutt-based Motor Industry Association.

Sales of passenger vehicles rose 7.4 per cent to 7056, the highest level for a February month in 26 years, while commercial vehicle sales jumped 9.9 percent to 2821, a record for a February month.

New vehicle sales surged to a record in 2014 and sales so far this year are 10 per cent ahead of the same period last year, underpinned by a buoyant local economy, record migration and a relatively high local currency, which reduces the cost of imports.


The used car market is also benefiting as lower prices flow through and the country's ageing fleet comes up for replacement.

"New vehicle sales for 2015 continue to reflect a strong economy," said MIA chief executive David Crawford.

"We are anticipating the market to be very positive for quite some time.".

Higher volumes had allowed retailers to reduce margins, ensuring new vehicle prices were competitive, Crawford said.

Japanese car maker Toyota was the top selling brand in February, with a 16 per cent market share, followed by Ford and Holden, each with a 10 percent share.

Toyota sold the most passenger vehicles, led by the Toyota Corolla, and the most commercial vehicles with its Toyota Hilux the top seller.