The fortunes of the various car brands in the NZ market in 2021 have been a bit of a lottery, to say the least. Covid-related disruptions to the supply chain have been the cause of many industry leaders’ tendency to pull their hair out, and the fact that little old New Zealand is at the end of the world’s transport links doesn’t help.
Despite the supply disruptions, some marques have fared better than others, and some longer term trends are emerging, one of which is the strong move to electrification for those who can afford it. It appears 2021 could well be a watershed year from where some brands spring on to even greater success and others wither on the vine.
We’re talking passenger cars here. Only a few brands are in the booming ute market, and at least one of them is flattered by having a very strong ute representation which insulates them (financially at least) from their shrunken passenger car volume.
There is no doubt that a few major players from years gone by have suffered at the hands of new entrants, some of which hadn’t even been heard of half a decade ago.
Let’s cover the losers first. Holden is the obvious one. Having disposed of the last of their stock in 2020, this once proud marque has now disappeared. Ford is another struggler, with 3.2 per cent of the passenger market YTD October, down from four per cent last year and a long way from the days when the Blue Oval was a 20 per cent player.
In the midfield we find Suzuki, Hyundai, Mazda, Nissan, Volkswagen and Honda, with Subaru nibbling at their heels.
Toyota reigns supreme as dominant market leader, as it has for the past 20 years with no end in sight. The big mover this year has been previous sleeper Mitsubishi, comfortably knocking former star performer Kia out of second place, but that’s not to belittle the recent achievement of Kia. They’re aggressively appointed dealers at the same time as flooding the market with new models, and seem to have an answer for every buyer.
The big surprises in 2021 are the brands that nobody had heard of until a couple of years ago, Tesla, MG and Haval (OK, you might remember MG as a spindly old sports car, but you get what I mean).
Tesla’s sales numbers are a little variable because it tends to accumulate orders from our market for a year or so then ship them all at once (I guess you can do that when you don’t have a network of dealers dependent on steady cash flow), but as an electric-only manufacturer they have certainly made a big dent in the market.
MG has arrived out of nowhere with a competitive range of electric and conventionally powered SUVs, and Haval’s offerings are stylish and very well priced. Gone are the days when the main prerequisite for sales success was a brand steeped in history, represented by a local dealer of high standing in the community. Now, history is irrelevant; what’s required is an affordable price, plenty of kit, a generous warranty and a nice colour. That Tesla can get so many to part with their money when they don’t have any dealers and servicing is done over the internet is surely the beginning of the end for the clunky old system we’ve had for the past hundred years.
We are in for interesting times.