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Holden tracking well for 2014

Dominant force: The Holden Commodore is easily the country’s best-selling large car with 18,824 units sold so far this year for a 72 per cent share of the segment.

Colorado, Commodore, Trax giving Holden sales boost as Barina and Captiva drop off

Holden logo18 Aug 2014

GM HOLDEN is on track to reach its sales targets for 2014 following a solid start to the year on the back of growing interest in its final Australian-built Commodore and the Colorado light commercial range.

The American-owned car-maker has experienced a 6.6 per cent boost in sales for the first seven months of the year, with 65,763 units shifted compared with 61,684 in the same period last year.

Some key Holden models are down this year, including the Captiva 5 and 7 which have slipped 22.1 and 18.4 per cent respectively, while the pint-sized Barina has also lost ground against tough competition.

However the VF Commodore, launched in June last year, has sparked renewed interest in the company’s Australian-produced large car, with sales up 43.4 per cent to 18,824 units YTD.

The Commodore is the standout performer in the ‘large car under $70,000’ segment with a 72 per cent share, compared with the Ford Falcon with 15.6 per cent, and Toyota’s V6-powered Aurion on 10.5 per cent.

Other models faring well for Holden this year are the Barina-based Trax crossover on 3648 sales as well as the Commodore Ute which is up 16 per cent for 3569 units shifted.

Speaking with GoAuto at last week’s Trax 1.4 LTZ launch, Holden’s director of sales Peter Keley would not reveal the company’s sales targets for the year, but said they were on track to meet them.

“What I will say is that towards the end of last year we put our budgets together for our volume and here we are in the middle of August and we are on target,” he said.

“Gerry (Dorizas, Holden managing director) spoke about our longer-term aspirations with the new portfolios and things like that. We have got a plan for each year and our strategy is to hit our plan.”

With the overall market down 2.1 per cent so far this year, Mr Keley predicts a similar result for the end of 2014, with some of the big players fighting for sales.

“I think consumer confidence is not where it should be. There is a lot of uncertainty with the economy, with the budgetary-type situations and things like that. The market will continue to be aggressive,” he said.

“So will we see a huge drop? No. Because the aggressors in the marketplace will still keep bringing customers back in the market.”

Holden has seen a boost in its Colorado utility range, particularly 4x4 variants that are up 16.3 per cent so far this year to 9218 units, while the 4x2 has increased slightly by 1.2 per cent to 1872.

The Thai-built workhorse even broke in to the top 10 best-selling vehicles last month, but it still trails the dominant Toyota HiLux and Ford’s resurgent Aussie-developed Ranger.

Mr Keley said increased fleet business had boosted the Colorado, while private buyers were also attracted to the ute with a lot of consumers opting for high-end variants.

“We are very happy with Colorado. We are getting some very good traction in mining areas and the styling of the vehicles is appealing to retail buyers as well. It’s really across the board, you can’t put it down to one particular item,” he said.

“We have got a very strong mix on our premium spec, the LTZ model, a very rich mix. In fact, we have probably got one of the richer mixes in the market I would think. On some brands, such as Mitsubishi and everything like that, you are talking about very basic spec vehicles.

“We are selling a good mix of vehicles at good price points.”

When asked if the Colorado could eventually be the company’s best-selling nameplate, Mr Keley said that Holden’s core models would be the ultimate key to its sales success.

“I think at the end of the day where you sort of called us the ‘Commodore Car Company’ in the past, I see us as the ‘Four C Car Company’ going forward – Commodore, and whatever replaces Commodore, Cruze, Captiva, Colorado.

“That will be the volumes and the market will dictate which segment provides the biggest opportunity. If you get those four car lines right, Holden will be going well.”

In contrast to the utility on which it is based, the Colorado 7 SUV (857 units YTD) is being beaten in the sales race by its twin-under-the-skin, the Isuzu MU-X, which has found 2678 buyers this year.

Mr Keley said Holden had a tougher job than Isuzu selling the utilitarian off-roader, given the Japanese brand’s tiny model line-up.

“It’s pretty easy. Isuzu has got to sell two cars. One is called a D-Max and one is called an MU-X. In the SUV space, where we have got a Colorado 7, we have got a Captiva, there is a lot more choice in the Holden showroom,” he said.

“The Isuzu sales consultant can be a lot more focused. If he doesn’t sell that MU-X he knows that customer is walking out the door. In our case, that customer might buy a Captiva, might buy a Commodore, might buy something else.”

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