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VFACTS: Subaru, Isuzu Ute the quiet achievers

Bouncing Czech: After almost flatlining last year, Skoda sales in Australia were up 6.5 per cent in the first half of 2017, aided by the new Kodiaq SUV.

Sales creep up steadily for Subaru, Isuzu Ute, Skoda and Porsche in first half

14 Jul 2017

IN A flat market that grew just 0.2 per cent in the first half of this year, a few quiet achievers including Subaru, Isuzu Ute, Skoda and Porsche made modest but healthy sales gains.

Subaru sold 25,962 vehicles between January 1 and June 30, a 7.9 per cent increase largely due to popularity of the fifth-generation Impreza that launched late in 2016 and came close to outselling the Forester mid-size SUV that has been the brand’s best-seller since time immemorial.

Put it this way: With 6373 Imprezas delivered to the end of June, the Subaru small hatch and sedan clocked up more sales in six months than it has managed in every full year since 2013, when 6871 were sold.

This puts Impreza on track to match or even better the record 12,289 units sold in 2010, unless the closely related high-riding XV crossover that hit showrooms last month hogs the limelight from now on.

It could happen, because in 2014 the XV notched up 11,539 sales – closing in on the Forester’s 13,670 units that year – and a respectable 10,764 were sold in 2013. In fact, since the XV hit our shores in mid-2012 the Impreza has suffered sales-wise.

Since launching in Australia as a standalone brand in 2008, Isuzu Ute has averaged 30 per cent annual sales growth, taking two years to sell its first 10,000 units but now on a run rate that sees that figure sold in less than six months – and it is still growing strongly.

Despite a shaky start to the year due to supply of D-Max and MU-X drying up in the run-up to revised models arriving to market in February and May, Isuzu Ute has clawed its way back from a 14.6 per cent sales slide in the first four months of 2017 and is now tracking at 5.6 per cent up on last year with 12,103 deliveries.

With such an epic comeback, Isuzu Ute Australia could well be on track to achieve its goal of achieving double-digit growth in every year of its first decade.

The signs for its bottom line look good too, as year-to-date sales of the D-Max ute are increasingly skewed toward more profitable 4x4 models, which are up 12.1 per cent compared with an 11.2 per cent dip in 4x2 sales, while the MU-X SUV range is up 7.6 per cent.

Despite entering the Australian market a year before Isuzu and growing its sales volume every year except 2012 when it sold precisely the same number as it did in 2011, Volkswagen-owned Czech brand Skoda has not managed to match the Japanese truck specialist’s success.

Skoda sales were up 6.5 per cent in the first six months of this year, with 2505 units sold and the most popular model being the Octavia mid-sizer, despite sales of that model being down 6.4 per cent year-to-date.

Tellingly, the Kodiaq that launched in June outsold the Octavia in that month by almost 30 per cent and looks set to propel Skoda sales, with the smaller Karoq set to maintain this momentum when it arrives in the second quarter of next year.

Meanwhile, sales of the Superb large sedan and wagon range are booming, up 88.5 per cent and Fabia light car sales up 32.9 per cent. The Rapid small car is growing more modestly with 9.7 per cent increase.

Those wanting European exclusivity to rival Porsche had better get in quick before Skoda becomes a household name – for the famed German sportscar brand sold 2751 cars in Australia during the first half of this year – that’s 246 more than Skoda and an increase of 4.6 per cent.

Considering the absolute minimum a brand-new Porsche costs in Australia is $80,410 plus on-road costs for a base-spec Macan mid-size SUV, this sales volume and growth is impressive.

Like its cars, Porsche’s sales performance is consistent too, with strong growth registered every year since it was ravaged by the global financial crisis of 2008-2009.

Macan sales are up 10 per cent, with 1407 delivered since January 1, comprehensively outselling the larger Cayenne SUV that found 799 buyers in the same timeframe, slipping 1.7 per cent.

The distant third most popular Porsche, the iconic 911, rose 9.2 per cent while the more affordable Boxster and Cayman sportscars were down 13.8 per cent and 19 per cent respectively. But the Panamera limo is up 80.6 per cent, largely due to the second-generation model that launched here in February.

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