NZ car market continues to defy the odds, May sales up 75%

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Words: Matthew Hansen
3 Jun 2021

Throughout 2021 the shimmering stories about the New Zealand car market’s wild success have been overshadowed by claims that the numbers are something of an anomaly, caused by Covid-19-related quirks in the country’s new car supply chain.

Yet, as the months rattle on (where did the year go?) the country’s new-car sales data continues to be incredibly promising. The Motor Industry Association (MIA) has published May’s figures, indicating a significant 75 per cent lift on the data of May 2020.

A total of 14,552 cars were registered during the month, making this the strongest May on record. Year to date the market is up a whopping 64.9 per cent on last year. 

The Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux once again led the pack, on 876 and 795 units sold, respectively. The RAV4 was third on 620 units, after supply difficulties in previous months held it off the podium. Toyota also held its usual market leader top spot, with 16 per cent market share.

“As has been the case for the year to date, the market continues to be logistically challenging. Worldwide shipping capacity is still a long way off pre-Covid-19 levels and manufacturers are still grappling with a worldwide shortage of semi-conductor chips,” says MIA spokesperson Mark Stockdale.

“Production is being slowed down or temporarily suspended to match chip availability. Additionally, as the rest of the world comes out of Covid-19 consumers are doing what New Zealanders did last year, spending up large on new items.

“Worldwide demand for new vehicles is outstripping production capability and it is possible manufacturers might begin to pro-rata supply to markets. Within these constraints the New Zealand market, year to date, has performed exceptionally well.”

Beyond the top three, Mitsubishi had a very strong May; its ASX, Triton, and Outlander ranking fourth, fifth, and sixth in the overall top 10, the remainder of which was filled by the Nissan Navara, Kia Stonic, Mazda CX-5, and Suzuki Swift.

The all-new Honda Jazz narrowly missed out on a top-10 berth, sitting 11th. And the popular Volkswagen Tiguan made a rare showing in the list, emerging 15th overall. Other notable stats include a possible turning of the tides between SUVs and utes, with the former continuing to soak up more market share in both its compact and medium segments.

In the hybrid and EV segment, a total of 1232 hybrids, 276 pure electric vehicles, and 120 plug-in hybrids were registered last month.


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