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VFACTS  Still number one: Sportwagon hlped Commodore remain on top last month.

Still number one: Sportwagon hlped Commodore remain on top last month.

Vehicle registrations head south for the fourth month running in November

NEW-VEHICLE sales slid by 22.2 per cent in November compared with the same month last year as consumers continue to reel from the global economic downturn.

Figures released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) show that 71,647 sales were recorded last month – 20,434 fewer than November 2007 – to create a fourth consecutive month of decline for the industry.

Compared to October, overall sales in November shrunk 9.8 per cent, despite a drop in official home loan interest rates and widespread discounting across the industry.

No segment was spared, with passenger-vehicle sales slipping by 11,176 units (down 20.6 per cent compared to November 2007), SUVs 4966 units (-28.1 per cent), light trucks 3379 units (-20.6 per cent) and heavy commercial vehicles 943 units (-25 per cent).

Aided by the Sportwagon variant, Holden’s VE Commodore ruled the roost ahead of Toyota’s Corolla and HiLux, maintaining its lead against the Japanese small car and light truck in the year-to-date tally.

The market overall is continuing to shrink, with 935,684 vehicles sold so far this year compared to 963,732 vehicles for the same period last year.

Nevertheless, the January to November 2008 result is still significantly ahead – to the tune of 50,000 units – of the 2006 YTD figure of 885,603.

All this points to a predicted end-of-year total of 1.019 million units, which would still clearly make 2008 the second-biggest year for new vehicle sales in history after 2007.

"It is clear that people are being more cautious with their money as the magnitude of the global financial crisis deepens," stated FCAI Chief Executive Andrew McKellar.

"Certainly the most recent interest rate cut was well justified, and it is hoped this will help restore some confidence and stability to the marketplace," he said.

"On the upside, there are going to be some very competitive opportunities for anyone considering buying a car in the near future," Mr McKellar said.

Leading the sales charts as per usual is Toyota, garnering 24.4 per cent of the total market with 219,984 sales, ahead of Holden (13.6/119,520) and Ford (10.1/97,216).

This contrasts with the 2007 year-to-date tallies of 22.4/216,034 (Toyota), 14.1/136,216 (Holden) and 10.3/99,094 (Ford).

Joining Toyota in bucking the year-to-date downward trend for both their market share and sales performances were the fourth-placed Mazda (7.8/73,185), ninth-placed Subaru (3.8/35,630) and Volkswagen at number 10 (3.0/27,710).

However, while the fifth-placed Mitsubishi (6.0/56,450), seventh-placed Honda (5.3/49,151) and eight-placed Hyundai (4.5/41,790) all conceded both market share and sales in the year-to-date results, the sixth-placed Nissan’s market share actually rose 0.2 per cent (to 5.9 per cent) despite seeing a volume contraction of 326 vehicles (to 54,985).

No segment grew in sales in November, as the 20.6 per cent fall in the overall Passenger Vehicle Market highlights, but some sectors performed better than others.

In the Light Car category, for instance, 9350 cars were sold against 11,673 for the same time last year, yet market-share wise, this class now commands 13.1 per cent compared to 12.7 per cent of new vehicle sales.

The top three sellers outcome is predictable – Toyota Yaris (2153 versus 2405 in November ’07, after October’s model refresh), Hyundai Getz (1501 versus 2473 for the ageing Korean supermini) and Mazda2 (1132 versus 1266).

Honda’s Jazz II – at 812 versus 899 sales – is faring worse than expected for an all-new car that is only in its second full month on sale, proving how price-sensitive consumers are in this end of the market, since both Yaris and Getz were heavily discounted in November.

VFACTS center image Top to bottom: Toyota HiLux, Suzuki SX4, Mitsubishi Lancer, Mercedes-Benz C-class and Chrysler 300C.

The Small Car category is still king with 22 per cent of the market (2007: 21.1) with the sub-$40,000 class dominated by the Toyota Corolla (3486 sales versus November 07’s 4109), Mazda3 (2349 versus 2564) and Mitsubishi Lancer (1922 versus 2052). Buoying the latter is the introduction of the new Sportback hatch variant. Ford followed with the fourth-placed Focus (1172 versus 1271).

Big fallers included the Holden Astra, Holden Viva, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Cerato, Nissan Tiida and Volkswagen Golf.

In the over-$40,000 small-car segment, the Audi A3 defied the trend by equalling its November 2007 result of 153 sales, ahead of the Mini (112 versus 169), Mercedes-Benz B-class (99 versus 274) BMW 1 Series (97 versus 121) and Mercedes A-class (92 versus 81). Year-to-date has the A3 ahead of Mini by only eight units.

The medium sector actually grew in market share in November (9.2 versus 8.4 per cent) if not in overall sales (6587 versus 7760), with all major players except for the Holden Epica and Ford Mondeo experiencing erosion.

Toyota’s Camry, at 1820 units, is almost 13 per cent down on last year, but comfortably ahead of the second-placed Mazda6 – although its 685-unit total for November is somewhat adrift of the outgoing model’s 1081 figure of a year ago. Honda’s equally new Accord Euro (405 versus 678) is also trailing its predecessor badly, particularly when the pensionable Subaru Liberty (520 versus 576) manages to outsell it.

In the over-$60,000 medium corner, the still-fresh Mercedes C-class and B8-series Audi A4 actually outperformed their November 2007 results (522 versus 486 and 317 versus 158 respectively), keeping the segment ahead of last year by 126 cars, while the run-out BMW 3 Series’ 456-versus-498 tally is not terrible, especially when Lexus’ facelifted IS only managed 212 units (versus 324 last year), with another 17 sales going to the IS F sports sedan.

The Large Car Segment continues to recede, with the sub-$70,000 class down 19.9 per cent and the Over $70,000 section falling 48.2 per cent, bringing the whole segment down by 21.3 per cent.

However, while Commodore and Ford Falcon sales have slipped again (4365 versus 4573 and 2555 versus 2798 respectively), their market share of the segment gained slightly, probably due to the death of the Mitsubishi 380.

Toyota Aurion sales are down 316 cars to 1481 units, with the fourth-placed Honda Accord’s 369 tally is a 48.5 per cent decline over the same month last year, but still 5.7 per cent ahead for the year with 7227 sales versus 6837.

Meanwhile, Jaguar’s well-received XF is third, behind the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-class, and just ahead of the Audi A6.

Buyers seem to be deserting the Upper Large league in droves (-61.6 per cent), with the Holden Statesman's 35 per cent drop being the least worst result in the sub-$100,000 category (89 versus 137 in November 2007), compared to the 54.7 and 77.2 per cent sales dives undertaken by the (segment-leading) Holden Caprice and Chrysler 300C at 101 (versus 223) and 29 (versus 127) sales respectively. Ford shifted only six examples of the discontinued Fairlane.

In the over-$100,000 Upper Large category, sales were down almost 75 per cent, with only the Mercedes S-class managing to record double-digit volumes (11 – versus 40 for the same month last year). While the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series only attracted two and seven buyers respectively, they are in their twilight years, but Lexus must be worried that its still-relatively new LS only managed four sales in November, less than one-tenth of the November 2007 result.

The best-selling people movers in a segment that is down by around 30 per cent in November were the Kia Carnival (270), Toyota Tarago (105) and soon-to-be-replaced Honda Odyssey (71).

In the sports car sales field, there were even bigger falls in November, with the sub-$80,000, over-$80,000 and over-$200,000 categories receding by around 35, 45 and 57 per cent respectively.

BMW led both the sub- and over-$80K segments with the newly released 1 Series coupe/convertible range recording 168 sales and the 3 Series convertible collecting 173 buyers. But while the latter dominates the competition with a 46.8 per cent share, it trails the November 2007 result by nearly half.

Intriguingly, Holden managed to sell two examples of the seemingly long-dead Monaro (unless it has registered two new cars with the same name – could these be VE Commodore coupes?), while the Ford Focus Coupe Cabriolet (what a mouthful!), Mazda RX-8 and BMW Z4 all managed to increase their monthly tallies over the same period last year.

So much for passenger vehicles; in the SUV segment sales faired little better.

Compact SUVs were down 19.1 per cent, but November leader – Subaru’s recently released Mk3 Forester – not only increased its market share and sales to 19.7 per cent and 1182 units respectively, it also managed to relegate the long-standing overall sales champion – Toyota’s RAV4 (1011) – to second place for the year

Honda’s terrible sales month continued with just 351 CR-Vs finding homes, putting it in striking distance of the Nissan X-Trail (874) for the 2008 compact SUV bronze crown; right now only 81 units separate the two for the year. Hyundai’s discounted Tucson managed to secure 657 buyers in November – up from 603 in the same month last year.

Year-to-date, 1795 sales separate the first-placed Toyota Prado (13,588), second-placed Toyota Kluger (12,226) and third-placed Ford Territory (11,793), which is the same pecking order for Medium SUV sales for November. Holden’s Captiva is not too far behind with 9242 units, in a category that is 29.1 per cent below the same month last year.

Large SUV sales have halved compared to November 2007’s volume, with just 812 sales carved up between the leading Toyota LandCruiser (554), Nissan Patrol wagon (234) and Jeep Commander (24).

In the Luxury SUV corner, sales dropped by 40.2 per cent to 1133 units in November compared to last year, with the BMW X5 leading the Land Rover Discovery, Lexus RX and Mercedes-Benz M-class.

The 29.7 per cent slip in pick-up and cab-chassis 4x2 sales is a sign that fleet sales softened considerably in November, with the Holden VE ute leading the Ford Falcon ute 904 to 719 units, for a 41 and 46 per cent slide respectively.

But the Toyota HiLux is still the sales champion here, with 1345 vehicles shifted (compared to 1767 in November 2007), while the Ford Ranger (527) edged out the Mitsubishi Triton (479) and Holden Colorado (443). The latter’s Isuzu D-Max 4x2 sister car cornered just 26 buyers.

Over to the 4x4 pick-up and cab-chassis segment, HiLux trounced the opposition and scored a rare victory over last year’s results with 2075 sales, followed in second place by the Nissan Navara’s 1141 sales, and then a similarly sized gap separating the third-placed Triton (681), Colorado (575), and Ranger (547).

This segment was down just 12.3 per cent compared to last year.

Rounding out the November 2008 VFACTS sales report, Vans dropped 16.4 per cent (led by the Toyota HiAce with 531 units, and then the VW Transporter, Hyundai iLoad and Ford Transit), the Light Bus sector remained steady with only a 4.2 per cent fall (HiAce dominated with 213 sales versus the Ford Transit’s 16), Trucks 2.5-3.5 GVM sales halved to just 81 units, while total Heavy Commercial Vehicle sales throttled back by 25 per cent, with the Mercedes Sprinter, Isuzu F-Series, Kenworth and Mitsubishi Rosa each leading their respective categories.

Top 10 brands in November:
Rank Make Sales % Share
1 Toyota 17,473 24.4%
2 Holden 9719 13.6%
3 Ford 7233 10.1%
4 Mazda 5454 7.6%
5 Mitsubishi 4116 5.7%
6 Nissan 4131 5.8%
7 Honda 2754 3.8%
8 Hyundai 3828 5.3%
9 Subaru 3017 4.2%
10 Volkswagen 1670 2.3%








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