Feature: Where NZ's cars are actually built
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The brand names are Japanese, Australian, American, German, British and Korean but the manufacturing origin of the vehicles can be something different.
A look at the New Zealand new vehicle registration figures reveal who sells the cars and trucks but not so much about where they are actually made — until you drill a little deeper.
But it’s easy to find the most significant trend in 2016. With pick-up and cab/chassis utes a major growth segment of the market its Thailand that has become the biggest supplier of new vehicles to the New Zealand market, overtaking Japan during 2016.
The top-selling Ford Ranger along with popular Toyota Hilux, Holden Colorado, Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi Triton, Mazda BT-50 and Isuzu D-Max models all come from Thailand.
So also do the SUV derivatives of those utes such as the Ford Everest, Toyota Fortuner, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Holden Colorado7/Trailblazer and Isuzu MU-X.
Passenger models including the Ford Fiesta and Focus, Honda Civic and CR-V, Mitsubishi Mirage, Mazda2 and CX-3, Toyota Corolla sedan and the Nissan Pulsar also contribute to the fast-rising made-in-Thailand total.
Vehicles manufactured in Thailand represent 28 per cent of all new vehicles sold in New Zealand this year. Just 10 years ago, Japan-built product out-sold Thai vehicles by four-to-one.
The change has been a rapid one. In 2015 there were 40,449 made-in-Japan vehicles sold in New Zealand compared to 31,868 from Thailand. The Jan-Oct 2016 figures counted 34,081 from Thailand and 32,511 from Japan.
Strong Hyundai and Kia sales point to South Korea as a major source of new vehicles for Kiwi drivers and they represent 13.5 per cent of the New Zealand market this year to rank number three.
A small number of those Korean brand cars are in fact from the Czech Republic but the Korean flavour runs deeper with the Holden Spark, Barina, Cruze wagon, Malibu, Captiva and Trax all from Korea.
Ford Mustang sales have doubled the size of sports car market in 2016 but the pony car is not the only significant US influence on the Kiwi market.
In fact, the Mustang is only New Zealand’s second most popular American car with the clear leader being the Toyota Highlander.
For all the talk of emerging auto industries in China and India it’s the US which has become a fast-growing source for new vehicles sold in New Zealand. Only 934 US-built vehicles were sold in 2006 but this year the total is set to reach about 5500 units.
Models such as the Nissan Pathfinder, the BMW X3, X5 and X6 and larger Mercedes-Benz SUVs are all US-built while Dodge Journey and Jeep models also add to the US tally.
The globalisation trend is only going to increase. The new Holden Astra hatchback comes from a factory in Poland (so does the Fiat 500) while the next generation Audi Q5 will come from Mexico and Hyundai’s just launched i20 is built in Turkey. The Volkswagen Amarok is built in Argentina.
In 2016 Australian built vehicles have continued their steep decline. Australian cars were 16 per cent of the New Zealand market back in 2006 and this year they will account for about 5 per cent of vehicle sales.
Holden and Toyota will close their Australian manufacturing operations in late 2017 with the Commodore confirmed to have a German-built replacement while Toyota has yet to confirm where the next generation Camry – to be launched at the Detroit Auto Show in January – will come from.
But when the Australian car factories in Adelaide and Melbourne have closed there will still be a small number of heavy commercials – mainly Caterpillar, IVECO, Kenworth and Mack product – that keeps the made-in-Australia column ticking over on the spreadsheet.
1 For the first time this year New Zealanders are buying more vehicles built in Thailand than in Japan.
2 New Zealand’s most popular American vehicle is the Toyota Highlander ahead of the Ford Mustang.
3 New Zealand’s best-selling British car is the Nissan Qashqai. The Range Rover Sport is a distant second followed by the Mini hatch.
4 Did you know? The Suzuki Vitara is made in Hungary. The Ford Kuga comes from Spain. About two-thirds of Mercedes-Benz C-Class models are manufactured in South Africa. The Toyota Highlander rolls of the production line in Princeton, Indiana.
5 India, China, Hungary, Spain and the Czech Republic are now all more important vehicle source nations than France.
Source: Data supplied by the Motor Industry Association for Jan-Oct 2016.