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Colorado sales ok by Holden

More grunt: An updated powertrain and more safety and tech gear should lift the Colorado’s sales to fleet and private buyers.

Holden says profitable deals must outweigh raw volume in regards to Colorado sales

28 Oct 2013

HOLDEN says it is content with sales of its Colorado light commercial utility range, which is consistently outsold by much older rivals such as the Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton.

Holden executive director of sales and marketing Philip Brook told GoAuto at last week’s revised 2014 Colorado launch that things would pick up after a slow start to the year, and that the more powerful diesel engine offering would be a booster shot.

“It’s always a balance between volume and profitability and we are pretty happy with how the truck is going at the moment,” he said.

“We think these improvements will help us out a bit. The engine in it has been really well received, but having a better engine is only going to help.” Mr Brook said supply constraints from the Thai factory that builds it hurt the Colorado in the early part of the year, but it had since picked up and given the Thai-built ute some momentum.

“One of the challenges we did have in the first part of the year was supply, so we had a couple of months of interrupted supply. Through quarter two, which is when a lot of commercial business is done, we missed out a little bit there,” he said.

“But we were top 10 in August. The market was a bit softer in September and we are tracking ok again this month.” Combined sales of the 4x2 and 4x4 versions of Colorado give Holden 12,896 sales for the year to the end of September, putting it fifth on the sales chart behind a number of key rivals including the top-selling Toyota HiLux (29,917), Nissan Navara (18,726), Mitsubishi Triton (17,952) and arch rival Ford’s locally engineered Ranger (16,070).

Neither the Navara and Triton match Holden’s five-star ANCAP score (on some variants) – increasingly important for fleet sales as company’s tighten up safety regulations – while the HiLux only recently became a five-star proposition (again, on selected variants only).

Mr Brook would not speculate on what numbers he expected the Colorado to end the year on, but suggested Holden would be reluctant to chase sales through heavy discounting.

“It just depends on how that market goes. We are not going to chase down unprofitable business,” he said With 60 per cent of all Colorados sold going to fleets including small businesses, Mr Brook said mining-related fleet sales were increasing for the brand.

“It’s a hard market to break into be honest. It’s a lot about servicing and proving your reliability in that market and we have been doing a lot of work. We have now started to get a pretty regular volume into mines so we are pretty happy with it and the feedback from the mines is positive.” Mr Brook said attracting fleet business from mining companies is challenging but they are making headway through small and large contracts as well as rentals.

“There are a lot of things on the go. There is tender after tender in terms of mining and it depends. They say you’ve won, then it takes a while for the volume to flow through. We are pretty happy. We have a number of dealers doing particularly well in that space,” he said.

“The thing about mining is it’s not just the mines that actually buy the cars, there are a lot of contractors. A lot of it is done by rental so there are a lot of specialised mining rental companies. We do a lot of business with them.” Meanwhile, sales of the Colorado 7 SUV twin are sitting at 1236 units for the year to the end of September, on par with Mitsubishi’s old-school Challenger on 1239 sales and slightly more than the soon-to-be-replaced Nissan Pathfinder on 997 sales.

All of these models are well behind the top-selling Toyota Prado that has sold 11,359 units so far this year.

Mr Brook said he was comfortable with sales of the 7, and that Holden was not expecting it to blitz the popular Toyota.

“It is very much a niche, there is no question about that. It is body-on-frame, has serious off-road capability and a three-tonne towing capacity. Generally, if you are after an urban SUV with seven seats, you are going to buy a Captiva or something like that.

“This is for someone who has got a real need for it. Some retirees who want to tow a caravan around Australia, that’s the sort of truck they are after. There are not a lot of cars in that price bracket that can carry three tonnes.”

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