WELLINGTON, Jan. 10 -- China's Chery and Great Wall automakers made significant inroads into New Zealand's new car market last year, but they are still a long way from catching up with the traditional market leaders, the Motor Industry Association of New Zealand said Monday.
Sales of new vehicles last year at 84,640 units were up 5.2 percent from 2010, with passenger car sales up 3.2 percent to 64,019 units and commercial sales up 11.9 percent to 20,621.
Perry Kerr, chief executive officer of the association said the figures were outstanding given 2011 was a year of "significant challenges for the industry."
Natural disasters in New Zealand as well as in Japan and Thailand coupled with a subdued economic environment and the Rugby World Cup diverting attention from car showrooms meant "it was always going to be a tough year," said Kerr in a statement.
Stock shortages arising from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami affected some Japanese marques with Toyota, Mazda and Subaru stock all down, according to association figures.
Of the top 15 automakers, Hyundai, Suzuki, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen and Kia recorded sizable increases.
"The Chinese marques of Chery and Great Wall also recorded sizable increases though their overall market penetration is still small," said the statement.
Toyota retained market leadership with 17,534 registrations last year giving it a 20.7-percent market share, followed by Ford with 8,656 registrations or 10.2 percent and Holden third with 8, 052 registrations or 9.5 percent. Second and third positions were reversed from 2010 registrations.
Toyota was the biggest seller of passenger cars with 11,796 registrations followed by Holden with 6,662 registrations. Hyundai was third with 6,072 registrations.
The luxury car rankings were unchanged with Audi remaining in top place with 1,331 registrations, followed by BMW at 1,217 and Mercedes-Benz at 981.
New Zealand's top selling model continued to be the Toyota Corolla, selling 4,166 units, followed by the Suzuki Swift at 2, 892 with the Holden Commodore third at 2,381.
In December, new passenger car sales were up 17.1 percent year on year while commercial registrations were down 17.6 percent due to shortages of light commercial vehicle stock from Thailand.
Toyota's Corolla, Yaris, RAV, Highlander and Camry were the top five selling models.