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King Corolla’s crown slips

Cross shopping: The popular Yaris hatch has given way to its Yaris Cross SUV sister as buyers downsize.

Toyota sales show Corolla, Yaris in decline as popularity of its smaller SUVs rise


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28 Mar 2022

RISING SUVs sales are no longer a surprise, with the February year-to-date results showing they outsell passenger cars by a factor of 2.7:1. 


In numbers, Australians bought 84,532 SUVs in the two months of 2022 compared with 31,422 who opted for a hatch, sedan or station wagon.


Passenger cars fell 16.8 per cent in the two months of 2022 while SUVs rose 0.4 per cent, in a total market that slipped 1.5 per cent.


Clarity comes when looking at sales of the top-selling brand, Toyota, and its individual models.


It has a long-standing seat on, or alongside, the throne for the best-selling model and for years this has been the epitome of the passenger car, the Corolla.


In 2002, the Corolla was the best-selling small car with 4798 sales in the February year-to-date (YTD) data for 18.4 per cent of the small-car segment.


Twenty years later, it had 25.5 per cent of the segment with 3113 sales – a bigger slice of a heavily reduced pie that in 2002 had 22 players. In 2022 there are 12.


It looks good for the Corolla and ensures its future but what the data actually shows is the bulk move into SUVs and pseudo-SUVs.


Corolla sales are now 65 per cent of what they were in 2002 and half of their 6000-odd sales in the same reporting period of 2016.


Across at the RAV4 part of showrooms, it is a reversal of fortunes. Sales are up 50 per cent on 2016 levels and the RAV4 has become the sweet-spot family car for lovers of Toyota.


Similarly, the little Yaris – a car that has shown resilience on the market through times of high fuel costs and rising freeway density – was a popular buy with 2187 sales in the first two months of 2016. 


In 2020 it welcomed a sibling, the SUV-ish Yaris Cross, and the new baby promptly grabbed the limelight.


During January-February 2020, the Yaris found a respectable 2228 new owners, up 29 per cent on the same period in the previous year.


In the corresponding two-month reporting period of 2021, Yaris sales plunged 56 per cent to 978 units while its new sister, the Yaris Cross, notched up 1194 sales. 


This year, the Yaris fell again – to 585 sales representing a 40 per cent drop – while the Yaris Cross SUV leapt 36 per cent to 1854 units, more than three times higher those of the Yaris hatch.


One can also see the search by owners for trendy small vehicles – and there is no denying the Yaris Cross is trendy – and perhaps a realisation that big SUVs are no longer being used as efficiently as intended.


The Toyota Kluger sold 936 units in the first two months of this year, more than double that of the previous corresponding period although this was more to do with supply and the changeover to a new model.


Importantly, it is half of the sales achieved in the first two months of 2020 and almost half of those achieved in 2016.


The trend away from the passenger car favourites is also witnessed at Mazda, with deliveries of the Mazda3 and Mazda6 half of what they were during the same two months in 2018, while its mid-size CX-5 SUV is up a modest three per cent as revised model enters the market.

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