30 May 19

Appetite for SUVs and pick-ups grows as NZ market shrinks

New Zealand is so remote it is often left off world maps; a new report by Dataforce repairs that injustice, at least for the new-car market. The Kiwi market is small, but not insignificant, says Dataforce analyst Nils Wehner: “With 154,000 new-car registrations in 2018, it's slightly larger than Norway.”

Or to slice that pie another way: the New Zealand market is equivalent to 13.9% of neighbouring Australia's new-car market. That's following a few years of robust growth, most notably +10.4% in 2016 and +9.1% in 2017. 

Cooling down
However, growth slowed down considerably in 2018, to just +1.2%. Figures for the first trimester of 2019 indicate a decline in total market registrations of -2.7% versus January-April 2018 – further proof the NZ new-car market is going through a cooling-down phase.

Looking at the market segments (year-to-date 2019), one peculiarity immediately jumps out: 76.6% of new cars are acquired by private citizens. That's an extremely high share. For some context: in Europe, only Russia has a higher share of the private market. 

Like their fellow antipodeans the Australians, New Zealanders have a predilection for SUVs and pick-ups, with those two segments representing 67.5% of all new-car registrations in 2018. 

Huge increase
That's a huge increase from 2014, when that figure stood at 49.1% - i.e. an increase from just under half to more than two-thirds in no more than four years' time. And the figure for this year looks to be even higher: in the first trimester, it stood at 71.3%.

Interestingly, the preference for SUVs or pick-ups differs strongly between the private and corporate market segments. YTD 2019, private buyers prefer SUVs (46.5%) over pick-ups (25.7%), but true fleets buy more pick-ups (42.2%) than SUVs (30.9%).

Authored by: Frank Jacobs