New Zealand new vehicle sales reached a record in August, keeping volumes on track to hit their highest ever level this year.

New vehicle registrations increased 1 per cent to 13,200 in August from the same month a year earlier, nudging ahead of the previous record August in 1984 by 43 units, the Motor Industry Association said. Registrations of passenger vehicles and SUVs edged up 0.4 per cent to 4,561, while commercial vehicle registrations rose 2.4 per cent to 4,561.

Motor vehicle registrations in the first eight months of this year are 1.7 per cent ahead of the same period last year at 105,681. That suggests new vehicle sales will surpass last year's total of 160,124 and hit a fifth straight annual record as the economy is buoyed by low interest rates and high migration and tourism arrivals.

Japanese car maker Toyota remained the market leader in August, with a 17 per cent market share, followed by Ford on 11 per cent and Mazda at 8 per cent, the MIA said.

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The top-selling model for the month of August was the Ford Ranger with 785 units, followed by the Toyota Hilux with 693 units and the Toyota Corolla with 597 units, 381 of which were rentals.

MIA chief executive David Crawford said higher petrol prices meant smaller vehicles were more in demand.

The SUV Medium segment remained the top segment for the month of August with a 16 per cent market share, followed by the Pick Up/Chassis Cab 4x4 with 14 per cent of the market, the SUV Compact with 14 per cent and small vehicles with 11 per cent market, he said.

- BusinessDesk