New Zealand new vehicle registrations fell in March as the market continues to soften, data from the Motor Industry Association showed.

March 2019 total new vehicle registrations fell 757 units, or 5.4 percent, compared to the previous March to 13,271 units. Year-to-date they were down 3.7 percent or 1,485 units compared to the first three months of last year. This indicates “a softening market,” chief executive David Crawford said. 

Over the last couple of years the market has been buoyed by low interest rates, record migration and strong tourism arrivals. While interest rates are set to remain low, migration is waning and expected to impact demand.

The total registrations of passenger and SUVs for March 2019 were down 6.9 percent on the year, while commercial vehicle registrations were down 2.7 percent. 

In March, Toyota remained the overall market leader with a 13 percent market share – with 1,697 units. It was followed by Ford, with 10  percent, or 1,328 units, and Mitsubishi with 9 percent, or 1,225 units.

In the commercial sector, the Ford Ranger retained the top spot as the bestselling commercial model with an 18 percent share, or 850 units, followed by the Mitsubishi Triton and the Toyota Hilux, each with about 12 percent.

“The outturn for March 2019 was weaker than the same period in 2017 and 2018, but still strong compared to (the years) 2009 to 2016 period,” Crawford said. “However, it indicates that after a sustained period of growth, the 2019 market is likely to be down on last year.”

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