04 February 2014

Comparing Australian & New Zealand new car prices

Here's another reason not to trust car salesmen - as if you needed one. I've always marvelled at the pricetags New Zealand new car dealerships place on their vehicles, and wondered how on earth New Zealand roads ever see any new cars at all given the comical amounts the dealers ask for new vehicles. Naturally, the dealer's sticker price is the starting point for negotiations, but some of the asking prices are just so ridiculous that you have to wonder at the sanity of those driving away in those new cars: 'You expect someone to pay $54,800 for a Mini?' Admittedly that's for a top-range Mini John Cooper Works, and yes some baby boomers have more money than sense, but that's a deposit on a house!

So I've made a quick survey of some common makes and models sold in both New Zealand and Australia, to get an idea of how much prices vary across the Tasman. All prices have been obtained from the car company co.nz and com.au websites. In the table below the Australian prices have been converted into New Zealand dollars at today's rate of AUD 1 = NZD 1.09243.

Obviously, the Australian market is five times bigger than New Zealand's, which means there should naturally be much more competition in the Australian market. There's also the difference in per capita wealth, which is quite substantial due in part to the now-ebbing Australian mineral boom and years of modest economic growth in New Zealand. But the scale of the price difference for many models is surprising.

When examining the price comparisons below, it's important to note that the New Zealand and Australian prices aren't for exactly the same thing. The comparisons actually tip further in Australia's favour than on first appearances. In New Zealand advertised new car prices are generally exclusive of on-road costs such as registration. But Australian prices are generally full 'drive-away' prices including registration and a year's compulsory third-party insurance. To get a drive-away price from the Australian car websites you usually need to enter an Australian postcode so it can calculate the state sales tax and whatever local registration fees there might be. (I used my Melbourne friends' postcode, 3146). So the Australian prices below include a great deal more for your money than the New Zealand prices.

Make / model NZD AU equiv NZ markup
Ford Focus Ambiente hatch 33,340 20,199 65.1%
Hyundai i20 GL 1.4 manual 25,490 16,375 55.7%
Hyundai i30 1.8 petrol 34,490 22,930 50.4%
Mitsubishi Lancer 2.0 LS sedan 30,690 21,837 40.5%
Holden Cruze Equipe hatch 30,990 22,383 38.5%
Kia Rio 1.4 LX manual 22,990 17,467 31.6%
Toyota Corolla 1.8 GL hatch 33,490 25,477 31.5%
Mazda 3 2.0L GLX hatch 32,795 25,991 26.2%
VW Golf 7 32,500 26,207 24.0%
Nissan Qashqai 2.0L petrol hatch 37,990 31,784 19.5%
Honda Jazz 1.3S manual 22,900 19,652 16.5%
Toyota 86 42,286 37,234 13.6%
Subaru Legacy 2.5i sport sedan 44,990 40,215 11.9%
Suzuki Swift 1.4 GL 19,990 18,014 11.0%
Ford Fiesta Trend 1.5L manual 23,990 23,157 3.6%
Mini Ray 29,200

[Note for any Australian readers: the Qashqai is badged as a Dualis in Australia - sounds like a toilet cleaner if you ask me, but then Qashqai isn't much of a name either. The Legacy is known as the Liberty in Australia, which is a bit American for my liking. I wasn't able to compare the price for the Mini in Australia because the Mini AU site was completely down!]

It's clear from these prices that Australian car dealers are much more comfortable offering big discounts to attract buyers. The top two differentials in the list below, the Focus Ambiente and the i20 GL, are both discounted prices. But even for most of the rest of the list, the difference is price is substantial. Perhaps instead of considering importing new cars from UK dealers, which a few have done with encouraging results, enterprising New Zealand buyers could look closer to home across the Tasman for a bargain? At the very least, if you're ever in the market for a new car be sure to look up the Australian price beforehand, and print out the details to show your New Zealand dealer. The explanation should be entertaining if nothing else!

See also:
Guide: Dog & Lemon Guide - Buying a new car
Transport: National Automobile Museum of Tasmania, 7 December 2013
Transport: The people's car, 18 February 2013
Transport: Southward Car Museum, 29 June 2009
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