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Toyota continues to lead

Toyota New Zealand's Chief Executive Alistair Davis addressed motoring journalists on industry activity at the recent launch of its new retro four wheel drive FJ Cruiser.

From a global perspective Mr Davis said the auto industry was recovering after the Global Financial Crisis, albeit pretty unevenly.

"Many of the Asian markets are growing strongly and Australia again topped a million units last year, more than ten times New Zealand, with just five times the population."

He said Toyota is also recovering from the global financial crisis and the 2010 recall publicity with sales up eight per cent to 8.4 million, representing the third best year on record for Toyota. Toyota remains the world's biggest selling vehicle.

From a New Zealand perspective Mr Davis reiterated the biggest market in New Zealand automotive sector is the public to public trade of used cars, at a pretty constant rate of around 500,000 vehicles per year.

"There was just 0.3 per cent growth last year following a two per cent decline the preceding year with the internet continuing to be the big influence in this space."

Mr Davis said the second biggest car market is the dealer to public used vehicle sales. He said it had been on a downward slide for years, and fell another one per cent to under 200,000 in 2010.

"In the two preceding years it fell 11 per cent and five per cent with dealer sales now only constituting about a quarter of used car sales in New Zealand.

The rise of internet, the reliability of Japanese used cars and the phenomena of used imports, are progressively making the used car a commodity has devastated the non-franchised dealer used car business," he said.

The third ingredient to the used car trade is the used imports which recovered rapidly last year after the triple whammy effect of the Global Financial Crisis, the strong yen and impact of better environmental emission rules.

"Sales were up 27 per cent to 91,000 after declines of similar amounts in each of the past two years."

By contrast, when speaking about the new vehicle market, Mr Davis reminded journalists that this is the smallest of the four main markets in the New Zealand car business.

"New vehicle sales grew 15 per cent last year to just over 80,000 - still a long way short of the recent trend of around 100,000."

Mr Davis talked about Toyota's 2010 successes, having achieved 23 years as New Zealand's automotive market leader producing largest ever gap to its nearest rivals with its total new vehicle sales exceeding more than Ford and Holden combined. He also said over a third of the top 20 selling vehicles in New Zealand are Toyotas; Corolla in number one spot, followed by Hilux in second place, Hiace in number 10, followed by Camry, RAV4, Yaris and Highlander.

"What was really pleasing is that Toyota and Lexus hybrid sales were up 67 per cent to just over 800 units, totaling one per cent of the market," he said.

In terms of the future, Mr Davis expected a pretty modest year ahead for the automotive market in New Zealand, with anticipated sales of 83,000 new vehicles, just three per cent on 2010.

He said used imports may well fare better, as importers buy ahead to beat the next emissions step in 2012.