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Record Day approaches
Steadily rising interest rates fail to slow Australia's raging new-car market
11 Dec 2007
THE Australian new-vehicle market is expected to crash through the one million sales mark this Saturday, December 15, leaving more than two weeks of trading for the remainder of 2007 to set an even higher-than-anticipated new record.
The November interest rate rise and the federal election did nothing to dampen consumer or business confidence last month, with sales up by some 10.5 per cent on the same month last year.
Official VFACTS figures released last week by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries show that 963,732 new vehicles were sold in Australia to the end of November – 78,129 or 8.8 per cent more than to the same point in 2006.
This year’s total is almost 55,000 sales ahead of the rate in 2005, when the year-end record of 988,269 sales was set.
FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar and David Buttner, the sales and marketing chief of market leader Toyota, agree that sales are being driven by affordability and value-for-money.
“The market appears to have been unfazed by the November interest rate rise (and) the timing of the federal election also had little or no impact on buying intentions,” said Mr McKellar.
“In historical terms, motor vehicles are very affordable and intense price competition between brands is only making them more so.
“The continued strength of the Australian dollar is under-pinning the competitiveness of many models and consumers are responding to the improved value for money that is on offer.
“It appears that fleet buyers and private buyers remain convinced that now is a good time to buy a new vehicle.”Toyota further extended its lead over Holden and Ford in November, and has now sold in excess of 50 per cent more vehicles for the year than its nearest rival (216,034 versus 136,216 for Holden).
Mr Buttner said that consumers know they are benefiting from lower prices in real terms, saying that the value of an entry-level Camry has improved by at least 28 per cent in the past five years – representing about $8500 to the customer.
“Industry observers often focus on the strength of the economy and the high dollar as significant factors behind rising sales, (but) we believe too little credit has been given to the car companies and the way they have improved the value of their vehicles over an extended period,” said Mr Buttner.
“The recommended retail price of the Camry Altise auto has risen just $215 since mid-2002. If our pricing had kept pace with inflation over that time, the price would have jumped by about $4500.
“Toyota has also added at least $4000 of new features since mid-2002, including Vehicle Stability Control and other safety and convenience items. All up, the added value in today’s Camry compared with the car of five years ago is at least $8500.”Mr Buttner said there was a similar value story with other Toyota vehicles, such as the new-generation Kluger launched in August, which is only $500 more than when the first-generation was launched in October 2003, whereas inflation should have pushed the price up by $5000.
He also noted that the new Kluger now has more power, stability and traction control, other electronic driving aids, five more airbags, a reverse camera and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Despite all these added features, Kluger lost ground to a resurgent Ford Territory last month. Having slipped in recent months, Territory sales improved by 19.1 per cent to 1595 units to easily win the medium SUV segment from Kluger (1206), Holden Captiva (936) and Toyota Prado (929).
That was very good news for Ford, but the Blue Oval still had a disappointing November overall and once again fell short of 10,000 sales for the month, with Utes accounting for almost one-third of total Falcon sales (1326 Utes to 2798 sedans).
Ford’s market share for November was 10.0 per cent (9219 units) compared with 13.6 per cent for Holden (12,498) and 22.8 per cent for Toyota (20,956).
Mazda retained fourth place for the month with a share of 6.9 per cent, which was higher than for the same month last year but down on its 7.4 per cent share for the year.
Mitsubishi enjoyed one of its better months, falling just 90 units short of Mazda.
The stand-out for Mitsubishi was the new Lancer, which in its first full month on sale recorded 2052 sales, an increase of 36.6 per cent on the same month last year.
Toyota Corolla continues to dominate the growing small car segment, recording some 4109 sales for the month to beat Mazda3 (2564), Lancer, Holden Astra (1406), Honda Civic (1381) and Ford Focus (1271).
In the even faster-growing light car segment, Hyundai recorded a surprise victory with 2473 sales – a staggering 65.1 higher than for the same month last year – to beat the previously dominant Toyota Yaris (2405).
Mazda’s new ‘2’ made a brilliant debut, more than doubling sales to 1266, putting it ahead of the closely matched Kia Rio (1044), Suzuki Swift (1006) and Holden Barina (1002), in a segment that was up 15.4 per cent overall.
Getz sales pushed Hyundai up to sixth place in November, moving ahead of Nissan (with Tiida continuing to struggle) and Honda (with Jazz losing ground in a growing segment).
SUV sales continue to flourish – at the expense of large cars – with the compact (up 10.9 per cent), medium (26.3 per cent), large (6.3 per cent) and even luxury (17.5 per cent) segments all well up.
Toyota may have lost the medium SUV battle to Territory, but it enjoyed success in compact with RAV4 and large with LandCruiser, while the BMW X5 was the top-selling luxury SUV.
The Holden Commodore was again the top-selling vehicle for the month with 4573 sales, but that was still down 12.7 per cent on the same month last year.
Top 10 for November:1 Toyota 20,956 (22.8%)
2 Holden 12,498 (13.6%)
3 Ford 9219 (10.0%)
4 Mazda 6363 (6.9%)
5 Mitsubishi 6273 (6.8%)
6 Hyundai 5145 (5.6%)
7 Nissan 4905 (5.3%)
8 Honda 4790 (5.2%)
9 Subaru 3225 (3.5%)
10 Volkswagen 2245 (2.4%)
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