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Rent-a-car sales boom

Flying high: 4779 Falcons have made it onto Australian car rental fleets so far this year.

Sales surge, but some brands are selling more rentals than others

General News logo27 Sep 2010

By MARTON PETTENDY

RENTAL vehicle sales have bounced back substantially this year following a global financial crisis-driven decline in 2009.

However, VFACTS figures obtained by GoAuto reveal some surprising results when it comes to which brands are driving the growth in hire car sales, as distinct from sales to private, business and government vehicle buyers.

Passenger cars have always comprised the lion’s share of rental car sales as car-makers entice hire car companies with attractive fleet deals as a means of shifting old stock and/or lifting the sales figures of particular models, sometimes at the expense of profitability.

80 center imageFrom top: Holden Commodore, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Camry.

But the mix of light commercial vehicles and SUVs has also increased – albeit from a low base – to the tune of 200 and 250 per cent respectively in the first two-thirds of this year, when 2775 LCVs and 3483 SUVs were sold to rental vehicle companies.

Compared to last year, the spike in rental passenger car sales peaked at an increase of 200 per cent in April, but by the end of August was still tracking at a 52 per cent increase over 2009 levels.

That far outstrips this year’s increase in passenger car sales to private buyers (up 14.1 per cent), business purchasers (up 6.2 per cent) and governments (up 4.0 per cent).

In terms of volume, more than 26,000 passenger cars have been shipped to rental fleets – up from just 17,150 at the same time last year.

Toyota continues to sell the lion’s share of vehicles to hire companies, with 9129 sold – up 54.9 per cent from its year-to-date 2009 figure of 5895. Of those, 7063 were imported (including 2997 Corollas) and 2066 were Australian-made (1560 Camrys, 272 Camry Hybrids and 234 Aurions).

Next comes Hyundai with 7890 rental vehicles sales, an increase of some 96.4 per cent over its August 2009 YTD total of 4018.

While Holden is well back in third with 5121 sales, that represents a massive 124.1 per cent increase on the 2285 rental vehicles it sold to August last year.

As we revealed last week, 73 per cent of new Camrys and Commodores are sold to fleet buyers, with more than 3000 Commodores going to hire companies, along with 872 Cruzes, 604 Barinas, 346 Epicas, 109 Caprices and 97 Captivas.

Ford is not far behind Holden in fourth with a total of 4839 rentals vehicles, including 4779 Falcons and only a handful of Territorys, Rangers and Transits. However, with sales of 3675 to August 2009, that represents only a 31.7 per cent year-on-year increase for the Blue Oval.

Well back in fifth place is Mitsubishi with 1841 hire car sales (up 88 per cent from 979 last year), followed by Nissan on a disappointing 1737, which represents a 2.7 per cent decline on last year’s tally of 1785.

No other car-maker has sold more than 1000 hire cars so far this year, but seventh-placed Kia’s total of 622 constitutes a 100 per cent increase over 2009 levels and, behind it, Subaru’s 223 total follows the sale of just two rental cars in the same period last year.

Other brands coming off a low rental car sales base are Audi, which sold none to August last year but has shifted 162 so far in 2010, while tenth-placed Volkswagen, Lexus and Mini have each sold 150 to date.

Mercedes-Benz has jumped from just three rental car sales to 139, while Skoda, Proton and Isuzu Ute have all gone from a zero base at this time last year to 111, 48 and 33 respectively.

Rounding out the top 20, Honda is up from 12 to 29, Suzuki is down from 97 to 26, Mazda is up from 12 to 22 and Renault is up from five to 11.

According to VFACTS figures, the only other brands to sell rental vehicles so far this year are Jeep (10), Chrysler (3), Great Wall (2) and BMW, Peugeot and Volvo with one apiece.

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