Stink bug woes affect new vehicle sales

New Zealand new vehicle sales declined for the first month in more than two years in February as stock levels ran low after several cargo ships carrying vehicles from Japan were turned away on biosecurity grounds due to stink bug infestations.

A brown marmorated stink bug. Source: Alpsdake/Wikimedia Commons

The Motor Industry Association said 11,531 new vehicles were registered in February, down two per cent from the 11,785 vehicles registered in February last year and marking the first annual monthly decline since May 2015.

Commercial vehicle registrations rose 10 per cent to 4116, while passenger car and SUV registrations fell eight per cent to 7415 as some vehicle segments were constrained by low stock levels, the MIA said.

New Zealand new vehicle sales hit an annual record for the fourth year running in 2017 as the economy is buoyed by low-interest rates and record migration and so far this year, new vehicle sales are running three per cent ahead of last year.

However, the vehicle supply chain has been disrupted after the Ministry for Primary Industries directed four bulk carriers from Japan to leave New Zealand waters following the discovery of brown marmorated stink bug aboard the vessels.

A stink bug incursion could have a devastating impact on NZ agriculture.

"While the market for new vehicles remains strong, some vehicle segments were constrained by low stocks levels, which will continue into the foreseeable future," said MIA chief executive David Crawford.

Japanese car maker Toyota remained the market leader in February, with a 17 per cent market share, followed by Ford on 10 per cent and Holden at 8 percent, the MIA said.

The top-selling models for the month were all light commercial vehicles.

The Ford Ranger was the most popular with 735 units, followed by the Toyota Hilux with 703 units and the Nissan Navara with 384 units.