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Automotive Highlights that Mattered

Updated: Mar 5, 2022

The Year in Review 2021

Its been a challenging year for many. Automotive businesses locally, retailers and distributors alike have had a strong year financially. However, there is no doubt that staff are tired, run down and grumpy and ready for a well-deserved break. Among the chaos, Boost Auto was founded. Here are some other noteworthy automotive highlights, observations and milestones from 2021.

Arrival Arrived

Arrival listed on NASDAQ with a valuation of $13 bn, making it the largest ever listing of a UK tech company (note the use of the phrase tech company). It hasn’t retailed a single vehicle yet but does have the backing of Hyundai Motor. It aims to build vans and buses and has 10,000 pre-orders from UPS. Interestingly, Arrival are seeking to build vehicles in micro factories. Typically a vehicle plant has a capacity of around 150,000 vehicles per annum. Arrival’s micro-factories use a much smaller footprint, are more scalable but have a capacity of around 10,000 vehicles. That could potentially mean that New Zealand would have its own local Arrival plant. Arrival is aiming for 31 plants by 2024.

Border Closures and Staff Shortages

When COVID hit us for the second time, we realised that the end to the pandemic wasn’t round the corner, but round a few more corners hidden by the brow of the hill. With the resultant border closures came the realisation that the tap had been turned off for techs from overseas. Signing on bonuses and escalating hourly rates ensued. We aren’t at the end of the pandemic yet, nor is it likely any time soon. Retail demand for new and used is high creating record sales and workshops are busy. The challenge right now is how to fill the vacancies when new candidates aren’t entering the workplace. There's no easy solution

BYD is coming to NZ?!

Nexport, Australia’s local BEV bus manufacturer, claimed to be ready to bring BYD to New Zealand and Australia by mid year, promising a sub $35,000 price tag. Orders were taken in Australia, but as yet no NZ sales or service network has been established. Whether they will sell direct to consumer or via a dealer network is yet to be established, although they did set up to sell to consumers. There website currently shows all BYD e6 and T3 light vans sold out, but NZTA data shows no new vehicles registered in NZ yet.

Clean Car Programme. A success in parts. With added confusion.

In late June we got the announcement about the Clean Car Rebate. It caught distributors, dealers and customers on the hop, and impacted the early adopters who had been a bit, well, early. A customer who ordered a car in June and took delivery was $8625 worse off than a customer who ordered a new EV and took delivery in July. Dealers delivered no cars in the last week of the month, as customers wisely deferred. And then the second part of the programme, the discount for low emitting mild hybrid and other clean cars was bumped from January to March. This is good news for ute buyers, because nearly all utes are heavy polluters. But even if we took cleaner Euro 6 vehicles in NZ the methodology imposed by the government would still hit those vehicles hardest (because Euro 6 focussing on other pollutants and particulates rather than Euro 5 which as a CO2 focus). All clear?

Hot Wheels meets Tesla

In what might be the biggest shake up in auto production since Henry Ford created the rolling production line, Elon Musk has asked the question, why are car bodies made from so many small pressings? If you've even been to a stamping shop, you'll know (and have felt) the huge forces that vehicle stampings use to create a body panel. Musk is thinking bigger still and believes that the whole body should be one pressing and not smaller parts welded to each other. If he makes it happen, he'll reduce the cost and time to make a body and increase the strength as well. Musk has a habit of asking questions that no-one else has thought of. Let's just hope that unlike Hot Wheels you'll get opening doors and bonnets. He's already ordered his first 11 'Giga Presses'.

MG is on track for 3800 units sales this year.

Let’s put some perspective in to this brand's remarkable rise. MG re-entered the market in March 2019, and so 2020 was the brand’s first full year. In 2020 it briefly made the top 10, whereas YTD the brand is sitting at number 11, just 229 units behind 10th placed Honda. MG now sells comfortably more than Mercedes-Benz (their sales include their van sales), Subaru, Tesla (the second newest brand in NZ), LDV (MG’s sister brand), Haval and almost twice the volume of BMW, Skoda and Audi, and nearly three times the volume of Peugeot and Jeep. MG sold more passenger vehicles than Ford. It also does that with a team of just 5 or 6 staff (its been a tumultuous year at the brand's local HQ this year).

Margins and GP and Agency Model

Dealers are reporting strong sales, record GP on new and used vehicle sales, and in the background a third manufacturer is chasing an agency solution rather than a normal retail model for selling cars tomorrow. But the record margins being made will make it hard to introduce agency. Over in Europe, where the UK and German markets are being savaged by Covid, Mercedes-Benz has successfully agreed to introduce the agency model. How it will play out in NZ and Australia in the short term is unclear. How it will play out in the long-term is a foregone conclusion.

Micro mobility matters

A recent study found that, in the largest urban markets, cargo bikes deliver parcels 60% faster than vans. In an unrelated study, in city centres, vans can spend up to three minutes trying to find a parking space. Already some of the world’s largest logistics companies, including Amazon, FedEx, and DHL, are rolling out two- and three-wheelers to optimize last-mile deliveries. In New Zealand the micro mobility market is estimated to grow from 9.5 million to 2.4 billion by 2030 according to a study by P&S Intelligence. Have you got your head around what that might mean for New Zealand?

NIO Swaps

NIO is the industry’s leading EV automaker with a focus on battery swaps. In the second half of this tear NIO confirmed it had built 517 battery swap stations in China and completed 4 million swaps (by end of September). It also introduced a BaaS (Battery as a Service) subscription model. Their newest swap model takes just 5 minutes to do a battery swap, and so NIO have successfully created a recharge that takes the same time as fuelling up an internal combustion engine. NIO is now targeting 700 battery swap stations in China by year end. The swapping service allows NIO to de-couple the battery from the battery sale, meaning their cars are around $10,000 USD cheaper than previously (and customers can choose the battery size they want). Kiwi’s are already used to this, if they have ever bought a Ryobi One power tool. NIO has just expanded in to Norway, which because of its high BEV ownership is seen as a gateway market for Europe. Are you ready for this bold kind of thinking?

Norway here we come.

Over 75% of all new cars sold in Norway are now EVs, making it an attractive market for China’s strong domestic EV manufacturers. It provides a test market and entry into European markets too, and so there are a large number of Chinese brands venturing there. Looking at Norway helps give us an understanding of which brands are most likely to be ready to come to New Zealand. BYD, Xpeng, NIO, Hongqi, as well as Maxus, MG already operate in Norway. Who will be here next, and what can we learn from these pioneering brands?

Ora rumoured for NZ.

Part of GWM, Ora provides electric only vehicles, sold in China. They are refreshingly different from a design point of view and are likely to offer a winning combination of style price and range. Boost Auto predicts that Ora Cat will be New Zealand’s best selling EV. GWM may have some challenges with the brand name in New Zealand, as it means to be healthy or fit in Te Reo, and there are many products already called Ora here. But the Ora Cat might well become the second car in your household, and if not in your driveway, then probably your neighbours.

Chinese brand Polestar landed

To be fair, to call Polestar a Chinese brand over simplifies the ownership model. Polestar is Volvo’s EV only brand. Volvo is owned by Geely. In November 10 x Polestar 2 models were registered, meaning there are now 12 units on the road in New Zealand. Polestar sell through Polestar centres but at the time of writing there are no Polestar centres in New Zealand. Pricing has been confirmed and two models fall under the $80,000 clean car rebate cap. Usefully, unlike Tesla Model 3, Polestar 2 is a hatchback, and is likely to have better build quality to boot.

Pure EV (BEV) sales reach 8% share of passenger and LCV sales.

BEV and PHEV combined outperform diesel sales. While the YTD figures are much lower, every month, the BEV proportion of sales increases. That diesel would be de-throned this year would have been unthinkable even 12 months ago.

Small But Big

The Chinese domestic market is important because alone it accounts for 30% of global vehicle sales. That’s why, when something left-field happens we should take notice. China’s number four seller is also the market leading EV, yet it is only half a car. Wuling Hongguang Mini EV has a 9 kWh or 14 kWh battery, measures just under 3.0m (which is about 300mm longer than a Smart Fortwo), and is around $7000 NZD. That is why they sell about 1800 per day.

Tesla Model 3 became #1

Tesla Model 3 briefly became the best selling passenger vehicle in New Zealand, outselling, Corolla and RAV-4. In September as the country emerged from lock-down, Tesla registered 1088 vehicles, knocking off some stiff competition in a volume restricted month. That the number one best selling passenger vehicle was an EV however is no less stunning.

Two wheels in India Matters

India is the world’s largest two wheel market; last year the market was 17 million sales (down from a pre-pandemic volume of 21 m units). Harley, Honda, KTM and a host of other brands have joint ventures there. So any EV start up in India is likely to be motorcycle first. It should be no surprise that Ola and Bounce are making waves there. Ola started as a rideshare operation, and hopes to be the number one seller of electric ride on scooters in India. The Ola S1 starts at around $2,000 NZD and has a claimed top speed of 90 kph and range of 120 kms. By comparison, NZ’s best selling electric scooter costs $4,000 and has a top speed of 50 kph, and a range of 70 kms. Bounce on the other hand will pursue a battery swap model, where consumers pay for the scooter excluding the battery, and pay for each swap, meaning the purchase price will be as low as $1,200.

Rivian starts delivering vehicles.

That might not sound like a big deal, until you realise that Rivian is all new. It bought a disused plant from Mitsubishi, in Normal Illinois just four years ago and sales of the R1T (pick-up truck) were scheduled to commence March 2022, a few months later than originally planned. R1T has already been named truck of the year by MotorTrend and Edmunds. Rivian’s truck is about $110,000. Which sounds expensive until you realise it’s the same size and price as an entry level RAM 1500.

Year One

What an amazing first year it has been for Boost Auto. We are proud and pleased to report a growing client list, including, MG, Suzuki Marine, Toyota New Zealand, Cartown, Tristram European, NIU scooters, Andrew Simms, and UteMaster. We are also writing a regular column for Auto Talk and have had speaking engagements with EVs & Beyond and AA Insurance. Last but not least we are also in contact with six EV brands overseas who are eyeing the New Zealand market.

To find out more about us, engage with us or to have a conversation with Boost Auto email us here.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas, and a prosperous New Year. Please enjoy the summer and take a well earned break. We will be!

Copyright Boost Auto 2021.

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