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Nissan outsells Ford for the first time

Climbing: Nissan's Navara helped the Japanese importer outsell Ford in March.

Ford slips down the rankings as importers set hot sales pace in a monster March

VFACTS logo3 Apr 2012

By RON HAMMERTON

AMBITIOUS importer Nissan outsold local manufacturer Ford for the first time last month as the Blue Oval brand slipped to sixth place for the first time in its history, industry sources have told GoAuto.

In what is shaping up as one of the biggest sales months for the Australian automotive industry on record, official March VFACTS figures out tomorrow are expected to confirm that the three biggest importers – Mazda, Nissan and Hyundai – all sold more vehicles than Ford, despite the fact that Ford lifted its March sales performance compared with last year.

Judging by the unofficial sales increases by some of the major players, a record March for the industry is on the cards, eclipsing the 94,774 units of March 2010.

Toyota – buoyed by fresh stocks of its Thai-made HiLux and strong sales of new Camry – remains on top of the charts, up on last year’s 18,466 sales.

Holden is said to be holding station in second place with sales around the 10,000 mark – despite a small drop on last year – with strong sales of its passengers cars, including a lift in Commodore volume, making up for a lack of Colorado stock ahead of the mid-year launch of an all-new model.

Number-one importer Mazda apparently had its biggest-ever March, driven by record compact SUV sales, thanks to a big start by its all-new CX-5, which apparently achieved almost 1400 sales, eclipsing the superseded CX-7’s best month by more than 200 units. Combined, the CX-5 and run-out CX-7 clocked up almost 2000 sales.

But Nissan was the big mover, rising to fourth place with a record 8317 sales – up almost 39 per cent on last year’s 5985 units in March.

 center imageFrom top: Mazda CX-5, Ford Falcon, Holden Commodore.

The company was moved to issue a press release about the performance ahead of the official statement from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), which is due about midday Wednesday.

Nissan said the March result pushed its year-to-date market share for the first quarter to 6.8 per cent “as it continues to advance towards number-one importer status”.

The importer’s stated aim is to achieve 8.0 per cent market share, 80,000 units and full-line importer leadership by the end of its 2012-13 financial year (ending March 31).

In the just-finished financial year, Nissan sold 69,678 vehicles – up 6.2 per cent on the previous year.

Nissan’s executive general manager of sales and fleet, Ian Moreillon, said the result was testimony to Nissan’s improving product range, stronger brand image and (dealer) network performance.

“With a rich collection of new product in the wings during 2012-13, we can only improve further on what is already a stellar result,” he said.

Although final figures cannot be confirmed, GoAuto understands that Nissan outsold Hyundai last month.

March is frequently a big month for Japanese importers, as it marks the end of the financial year and the need to push for the maximum volume and market share.

Ford was the loser against the big sales drive by importers. Ford sales grew about 10-12 per cent, according to our sources, to about 7500 units for the month, but this was not enough to make up ground in what appears to be a strong month by most major players.

Last year, Ford sold 6724 vehicles in March, but this year it has a fresh range of locally made vehicles, including the Territory and six-cylinder Falcon.

Next month, it will debut a critical new model, the four-cylinder EcoBoost Falcon.

Ford finished third behind Toyota and Holden in the overall standings in 2011, but in the first two months of this year slumped to fifth place and a market share of 7.9 per cent.

Even when Nissan was a local manufacturer, it never outsold Ford, which in the 1980s was at the top of its game.

The overall industry sales tally will not be known until the final figures are released tomorrow, but a record seems a shoe-in, given the number of companies claiming record returns.

Apart from Mazda and Nissan, smaller players such as Suzuki and Kia had a great month, with Kia sales up about 34 per cent.

The market has never topped 100,000 units in any month other than the traditional end-of-half-year spikes in June and December, and even then only on a few occasions.

The biggest sales month in history was recorded last June when 108,722 vehicles found new homes.

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