The number of new car sales can be a good barometer of business confidence for a region and if the tally from last month is any sort of guide then Whanganui's economic climate looks pretty healthy.

According to the Motor Industry Association new vehicle registrations for April reached a monthly level not seen in the last 34 years. Last month there were 9939 new vehicle registrations, up 649 units (7 per cent) on April last year. The majority (6789) were for passenger vehicles and the remaining 3150 were commercial vehicle registrations.

Registrations for individual regions are not yet available but Mark Quirk, managing director of Wanganui Motors, said the sales figures his team notched up last month made it the best April in a decade.

Mr Quirk believed the healthy market could be put down to some real confidence in small to medium-sized businesses in the district.


"For the last few years we've noticed people have been keeping their vehicles a little longer but now many are looking to upgrade," he said.

"But generally our business is very buoyant both in new and used vehicle sales."

The Ford Ranger ute remained the company's biggest seller while sales of Mazda vehicles had been very strong.

Mr Quirk said interest in the Ford badge had ramped up with the arrival of the right-hand drive Mustang. Sales of the iconic sports coupe in Whanganui were well into double figures.

His assessment of the market has been echoed by other dealerships in Whanganui.