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New Zealand’s car market is slowing down as demand decreased notably in March 2024 compared to previous years.

According to the latest statistics released by the Motor Industry Association (MIA), March 2024 saw 11,616 registrations, marking a substantial decline of 27.4% compared to March 2023, and a staggering 44.7% drop from March 2022 figures.

Year-to-date, 2024 is trailing behind 2023 by 10.8% and significantly lags behind 2022 and 2021 by 27.8% and 23.4%, respectively.

MIA chief executive Aimee Wiley attributed the persistent soft demand in March to the broader economic slowdown currently affecting New Zealand.

In a statement, Ms. Wiley highlighted that higher interest rates, implemented to tackle inflation, have significantly dampened consumer spending.

March Statistics

Breaking down the registrations by market leaders, Toyota maintained its dominance with a 20.6% market share, followed by Mitsubishi at 12.8% and Ford at 12.1%. The breakdown of registrations for March includes 7,571 light passenger vehicles, 3,373 light commercial vehicles, and 672 heavy commercial vehicles.

In terms of motive power, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) accounted for 4.5% of the market share, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) at 1.9%, hybrids at 22.2%, and internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles dominating with a 71.4% share.

Within the light passenger vehicle segment, registrations experienced a significant decline compared to previous years. Notably, SUVs dominated consumer preferences, with the medium and compact segments comprising the majority of purchases.

The electric vehicle (EV) market also saw fluctuations, with Tesla leading in BEV registrations and Mitsubishi in PHEVs. Toyota remained a strong contender in the hybrid electric vehicle category, with the RAV4 being the top-selling model.

In the light commercial vehicle category, registrations dipped by 6.5% compared to March 2023 but showed a slight increase year-to-date. Ford continued its lead in this segment, followed closely by Toyota and Mitsubishi. The Ford Ranger remained the top-selling model for the month.

Contrary to the overall trend, heavy commercial vehicle registrations experienced a slight increase compared to the previous year. However, the numbers remain volatile, indicating potential market shifts.

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