It's official: 2020 was a stinker for new vehicle sales.
Figures released by the Motor Industry Association today show total new vehicle registrations totalled 119,622 last year - 23 per cent below 2019's 154,000.
Passenger vehicle sales fell from 104,281 last year to 80,880, while commercial vehicle sales were down by the same proportion (23 per cent) as they fell from 50,482 in 2019 to 38,762.
Toyota's Rav4 was the best-selling passenger (car or SUV) vehicle of 2020 with total sales of 5341 - well off the pace of 2019's top-seller, the Toyota Corolla with sales of 6904. The Corolla slipped to fifth in 2020 as its sales more than halved (see table below).
The year ended on a low, with December sales down 25 per cent over the prior year.
Looking at the year as a whole, MIA chief executive David Crawford said around 70 per cent of the slump was caused by the slowdown in economic activity caused by the pandemic. He pegged the balance on supply constraints.
And although it was bad, it was not the 35 per cent decline the MIA had been picking back in March.
Segmentation was steady. There was no major move to smaller or larger vehicles.
Toyota (17 per cent market share), Ford (10 per cent) and Mitsubishi (7 per cent) remained the top three sellers by brand across the market overall.
The only major mover was Holden, which crashed from fourth in 2019 to ninth on the back of parent GM's February announcement that it would no longer produce right-hand drive vehicles after 2020.
Sales to car rental companies fall off a cliff
The rental market fell off a cliff. Amid border closures and the evaporation of overseas tourists, rental car companies put away their chequebooks, buying around 78 per cent fewer vehicles.
In 2019, rental car companies bought 19,787 cars and SUVs. Last year, that sank to just 3604 as operators chose to sweat their current stock - or just park it up in paddocks.
Sales to business customers were down by 22 per cent to 56,519 in the 11 months to November 2020, while sales to government agencies were down 20 per cent to 4210 for the same period.
At the top end of town, the pain wasn't felt as keenly as some sectors. Sales of luxury vehicles fell 11 per cent to 8469.
Alfa Romeo and Ferrari even managed slight increases, and Rolls-Royce sales were positively sprightly, jumping from eight to 13.
There were some bright spots. Sales to private buyers were down a modest 3 per cent to 47,201 as of November 2020.
And in the electric vehicle market, sales of hybrids increased by 2789 vehicles to a total 8664 for the year.
That meant total NZ EV sales were up 30 per cent for 2020 to 10,939, despite pure-electric vehicle sales falling by 338 to 1519 and PHEVs (plug-in hybrids) declining 170 to 756.
The outlook for 2021
Although sales were down by a quarter overall in December, the brunt was felt by passenger cars and SUVs, whose sales were down 32 per cent, while commercial vehicle sales were down just 6 per cent over the prior year.
The MIA is picking 2021 sales will total around 135,000 or about 15,000 higher than 2020 - if still well down on 2019's 154,763, which was itself 4 per cent down on the record 161,770 hit in 2018.
Crawford says supply disruption remains, especially for high-volume models.
In the short-term, it's hard to pick he says, with various parts of the part supply chain or shipping hit by lockdowns at random as the coronavirus continues to swirl around most of the planet.
Crawford says the projection of 135,000 total light-vehicle sales in 2020 is "dependent on a successful rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine around the world and on when our international borders open up again to support an increase in our tourism sector".