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News - VFACTS - Sales 2004 - March

VFACTS: On track for a million

Three months in, industry experts say a million new vehicles will be sold in 2004

7 Apr 2004

MORE than one million vehicles could be sold in Australia for the first time this year, according to Holden executive director sales and marketing Ross McKenzie.

Speaking following the release of March vehicle sales figures by industry statistician VFACTS – which reveal the industry is running at a record annualised sales rate of about 985,000 units – Mr McKenzie said the economic conditions that created Australia’s booming car buying climate were unlikely to change.

"The market appears well on track for the possibility it could break the one million (vehicle) mark this year. It’s perfectly feasible," he said.

Mr McKenzie is at odds with industry chiefs who suggest a tariff reduction, which will see government duty on imported vehicles fall from 15 to 10 per cent on January 1, will cause a softening of the market in late 2004 as buyers hold out for better deals in 2005.

"The conditions that created this boom won’t change," he said. "The outlook for economic growth remains good at around four per cent, business sentiment is high, interest rates remain sound and vehicle affordability – the transaction price relative to finance costs – is still at record levels.

"Of course, all of this is driven by new products, and each of these factors should stay this way throughout 2004," said Mr McKenzie, who added that the boom in light trucks (up 22.7 per cent on the first quarter of 2003), pick-up/cab-chassis 4X2s (up 22.2 per cent) and pick-up/cab-chassis 4X4s (up 27.9 per cent) would continue to be driven by the strength in the housing market.

Despite Mr McKenzie’s optimism, Holden’s official (and traditionally conservative) market forecast has been adjusted upward to just 950,000 (from 900,000), which falls short of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries’ projection of 960,000. Holden itself now expects to shift 187,000 vehicles, up from 184,000.

The big winner in the first quarter was Toyota, which sold 18,553 new vehicles in March – 2050 more than Holden and 6753 more than Ford – to give the Japanese giant a record first-quarter result and a 4906 vehicle lead over Holden year-to-date.

106 center image LEFT: Commodore remains Australia's top selling large sedan this year but lost significant ground in March.

But Holden, which also posted an all-time record first quarter result to be seven per cent up on Q1 2003, has not conceded in the fight to retain the number one sales ranking it lost to Toyota last year.

"I don’t have any white flags. Anything’s possible – 5000 (units) in nine months is totally do-able," said Mr McKenzie, who admitted Holden’s profitability has suffered since Holden slashed pricing on its smaller models in a bid to remain competitive.

"Profitability is good overall, but for us to get the price points we needed we’ve had to give up some margins on Barina, Astra and Vectra," he said.

"Toyota is pushing hard with Corolla and Echo. We responded with Barina and Astra, and Hyundai has been pushing hard too, so profitability may not be up there." Mr McKenzie said Holden was currently debating its pricing structure for the facelifted VZ Commodore due on sale in August.

Specifically, it must decide whether to pass on the 3-5 per cent tariff rate reduction as an incentive from launch, or whether to lower prices later. The decision will be crucial for both Holden and Ford, which will present an updated BAII Falcon the next month.

"There’s no doubt there’s a challenge in front of us … I think we’ll end the year with a wet sail. We have four months of VZ to finish the year and the VY runout will be a challenge," Mr McKenzie said.

"Hypothetically, people will hold off until next year due to tariffs – but only hypothetically. It’s a big problem – we’re working through that (tariff) strategy now. We have to consider the VZ’s price positioning both for Q4 2004 and Q1 2005." As it stands, Toyota sold a record 47,674 vehicles in the first quarter of 2004 (18,553 units in March – up eight per cent), representing a 12.3 per cent increase on Q1 2003.

Further behind in number two is Holden, having sold a record 42,768 vehicles in the first quarter (16,503 units in March – up 13 per cent), representing a seven per cent increase on Q1 2003.

Mitsubishi again trailed top importers Nissan and Mazda to be sixth, with just six per cent of the market

Toyota now holds a 21 per cent market share (versus 20.8 per cent at this time last year), while Holden holds 18.9 per cent (versus 19.6 per cent).

Third is Ford, which sold 11,810 vehicles in March (its best March result since 1999) to total 30,469 for the quarter – up from 10,921 and 28,879 last year respectively. Ford’s market share is now 13.4 per cent, down from 14.2 per cent at April 1, 2003.

Mitsubishi again trailed top importers Nissan and Mazda to be sixth, with just six per cent of the market (down from 8.2 per cent) and 13,621 sales (down from 16,548) for the quarter.

Nissan is fourth with 15,026 sales and a 6.6 per cent share for the quarter (up from 11,544 and 5.7 per cent), followed by Mazda, which sold more imported passenger vehicles than all brands except Toyota with 13,867 sales and a 6.1 per cent share for the quarter (up from 12,042 and 5.9 per cent).

Of the top 10 for the quarter, Hyundai is seventh with 9604 sales and 4.2 per cent market share with a 69 per cent sales increase over March 2003 and a 55 per cent increase quarter-on-quarter.

The South Korean marque was followed by Honda (8825, 3.9 per cent), Subaru (8401, 3.7 per cent following its best sales month ever) and Kia (5844, 2.6 per cent).

Overall, the March industry volume of 86,046 set a new record for a March month (the previous record of 77,011 being set in 1999), and is up 9933 vehicles or 13.1 per cent on March 2003 (76,113 vehicles).

The passenger vehicle market increased by 3807 vehicles (7.6 per cent) over the same month last year, the sports utility vehicle market increased by 2549 (20.5 per cent), light trucks increased by 3125 vehicles (26.3 per cent) and heavy commercial vehicles by 452 vehicles (24.1 per cent) over March 2003.

Year-to-date, a total of 226,720 vehicles is running ahead of the same period in 2003 by 11.1 per cent or 22,702 vehicles, including passenger cars at 142,319 vehicles (up 8706 and 6.5 per cent).

Prestige cars led the way, up 3944 (77.9%), followed by small cars (up 3548 and 8.8%), medium cars (up 1853 and 18.7%), light cars (up 1784 and 9.5%), luxury cars (up 772 and 10.1%) and people-movers (up 261 and 9.8%).

Passenger car segment losers were large cars (down 2548 or 5.5%) and sports cars (down 908 or 31.2%).

Total SUVs, at 40,161 vehicles for the quarter, are now running 5952 vehicles (11.4%) ahead in year-to-date terms, with medium SUV up 4010 or 51.0%, luxury SUV up 1586 or 73.8% and compact SUV up 489 or 2.7%. The large SUV segment is down 133 or 2.2%.

With the exception of light buses, all commercial segments gained substantially in Q1, with light trucks up 7095 vehicles or 22.6, pick-up/cab-chassis 4X2s up 3383 or 22.2% and pick-up/cab-chassis 4X4s up 2890 vehicles or 27.9%.

Q1 2004 TOP TEN:

PositionMakeVolumeShare (%)
3Ford 30,469 13.4
4Nissan15,026 6.6
5Mazda 13,8676.1
6Mitsubishi 13,621 6.0
7Hyundai 9604 4.2
8 Honda 8825 3.9
9 Subaru 8401 3.7
10 Kia 5844 2.6

Segment by segment:

Light cars:

TOYOTA’S Echo continues to lead the light car contest, amassing 1684 sales in March to total 4373 units year-to-date, and a 21.3% segment share.

Not that far behind is Hyundai’s Getz, which found 1268 new homes in March for a YTD total of 3786 and an 18.5% share.

Third is Kia’s Rio, with 771 sales in March for 2412 YTD and a share of 11.8%, ahead of Honda Jazz (585 in March, 2019 and 9.8% YTD).

Sneaking into fifth ahead of its Daewoo Kalos stablemate (well, kind of) is Holden’s Barina with (646 sales in March, 1390 and 6.8% YTD).

Small cars:

THIS time it’s Toyota’s Corolla that leads the segment, with 3544 sold in March and 9624 sold YTD for a 21.9% share, a long way ahead of its nearest rival Holden Astra, which totalled 2053 sales in March for 6190 and 14.1% YTD.

Third best selling small car is Mazda3 with 2040 sales in March and 4695 sales or a 10.7% share YTD.

Mazda3 actually outsold Pulsar in March, the Nissan amassing 1886 sales for 4485 sales YTD and a 10.2% share YTD.

Ford’s Focus is fifth, a long way ahead of Mitubishi’s Lancer, with 1105 sales for the month, 3604 for the year and an 8.2% YTD share.

Medium cars:

FOUR-CYLINDER Camry was again the medium car to beat in March, when it racked up 1952 sales, making it 5489 for the year and a YTD share of a whopping 46.7%.

Second is Mazda6, with 1125 sales in March, 3135 for the year and a YTD share of 26.7%, while Subaru’s Liberty is third, with 663 sales in March, 1881 for the year and a share of 16% YTD.

Holden Vectra was fourth best, posting 256 sales in March, 592 for the year and a YTD share of 5%, ahead of Chrysler’s PT Cruiser with 97 sales in March, 243 for the year and a YTD share of 2.1%.

Large cars:

DESPITE losing ground by having its worst March sales for years, Commodore maintains its large car dominance with 7206 sold in March and 19,070 sold YTD for a market share of 43.8%.

Ford sold exactly two more Falcons in March compared to 2003, with 6395 sold for the month (its best March result since 1999, including a record total of 1853 XRs), totalling 16,425 YTD and a share of 37.6%.

Third is Mitsubishi’s Magna, with 1385 sold in March and 3322 sold YTD for a share of 7.6%.

Edging ever closer to the French-faced car is Toyota’s V6 Camry, which posted 1268 sales in March for 2970 sales and a 6.8% share YTD. Camry V6 walloped its Avalaon stablemate, which found 600 new owners in March for a YTD total of 1393 and a 3.2% share.


TOP people-mover in March was again Kia’s cut-price Carnival, which scored 434 new owners to total 1234 sales and a 42.2% share YTD.

Second best is Toyota’s Tarago, with 236 sales in March plus 438 for the year and a 15% YTD share.

Next comes Holden’s Zafira, 203 of which were sold in March. It has totalled 392 sales YTD for a 13.4% share.

Toyota Avensis is fourth with 109 March sales, 275 YTD sales and a 9.4% YTD share, ahead of Chrysler Voyager with 85 sales for the month and 235 for the year, totalling a YTD share of 8%.

Sports cars:

HOLDEN’S Monaro remains king of the sports car heap, with 236 March sales and 522 YTD sales for a YTD share of 26.1%. The brand’s Astra convertible is not far behind with 145 March sales plus 395 YTD and a 19.7% YTD share.

Third is Honda’s ageing Integra with 53 monthly sales and 168 sales YTD, comprising an 8.4% share.

Peugeot 206CC continues to perform well, with 65 March sales for a YTD total of 161 – and an 8% share.

Narrowly scoring fifth spot ahead of 307CC (which had its first month of sales) was Mazda’s MX-5, which posted 42 sales in March for YTD totals of 100 and 5%.

Prestige cars:

HONDA’S Accord continues to paste all-comers in the booming prestige segment, snaring 1020 sales in March and 3106 so far this year for a 34.5% market share.

Well behind is Nissan’s new Maxima, which posted 425 sales for the month, 1120 for the year and a YTD market share of 12.4%.

Rounding out the top five prestige contenders is Holden’s Statesman (387 sold in March, 871 sold YTD for a 9.7% share YTD) and Vectra CDX (400, 845, 9.4%), and the Ford Fairlane (195, 522, 5.8%).

Luxury cars:

THE luxury market remains a shoe-in for BMW’s all-conquering 3 Series, which accrued 397 sales in March (including 12 wagons) and 1218 sales YTD for a YTD share of 14.4%.

Almost lineball for the month, the Mercedes-Benz C-class found 399 buyers in March (including 17 wagons), but still trails with 956 sales YTD for a share of 11.3%.

Rounding out the top five luxos is the same brand’s E-class, which found as many as 267 new homes (including 14 wagons) in March for YTD totals of 702 and 8.3%.

Despite being a sports car, Mazda RX-8 lies fourth in the luxury car ranks, with 193 sales in March, 576 for the year and a YTD share of 6.8%, narrowly ahead of BMW’s new 5 Series, which amassed 214 sales in March plus 573 and 6.8% YTD for fifth place.

Compact SUVs:

TOYOTA’S facelifted Rav4 has further reinforced its dominance of compact SUVs, gaining 1371 sales in March for 3498 sales YTD and an even stronger 18.7% share.

Much closer than at this time last year is Nissan’s X-Trail, which posted 1146 March sales and 3259 YTD for a share of 17.5%.

Now third best is Subaru Forester, scoring 982 March customers and 2787 for the year, with a YTD share of 14.9%.

Honda’s CR-V continues as the fourth best seller, with 763 sales in March, 2180 for the year and a share of 11.7%.

Subaru’s rejuvenated Outback knocked off Mazda’s Tribute for fifth, claiming 649 sales in March, 1699 YTD and a share of 9.1%.

Medium SUVs:

TOYOTA’S Prado remains king of the medium SUVs by a fair margin, claiming 1548 sales in March and 3851 for the year with a YTD share of 32.4%.

Segment new boy Kluger provided the most competition for its stablemate, with 741 March sales for a 1999 YTD total and a YTD share of 16.8%.

Not far behind is Mitsubishi’s Pajero with 690 March sales, plus YTD figures of 1805 and 15.2%.

It’s fresh air to the medium SUV also-rans, including Jeep Cherokee (221 March sales, 559 YTD and 4.7% YTD) and Land Rover Discovery (159, 535 and 4.5%).

Large SUVs:

OF the three players here, LandCrusier wagon continued its rule, albeit with lesser authority. It gained 1330 buyers in March for YTD totals of 3424 and 58%.

Next is Nissan Patrol wagon with 795 March sales, 2171 YTD sales and a YTD share of 36.8%, ahead of Ford Explorer with 104 March sales, 304 YTD and a share of 5.2%.

Luxury SUVs:

THE BMW X5's lead in this segment is diminished by newcomers but remains substantial, with 298 March sales, 965 sales YTD and a YTD share of 25.8% – down from 30.2% in March 2003.

Maintaining second place is Lexus RX330, which nabbed 237 March sales for 638 YTD sales and a YTD share of 17.1%.

Another Jeep performer helping to lift Chrysler-Jeep sales 20% quarter-on-quarter, the Grand Cherokee scored 145 new homes in March for YTD totals of 403 and 10.8%.

Honda's MDX finished a creditable fourth in the luxury SUV stakes for the month, finding 130 new homes for a March segment share of 9.8% - ahead of the fifth-placed Mercedes-Benz M-class with 118 March sales and a share of 8.9%.

But M-class still lies fourth on YTD figures, having amassed 373 sales and a YTD segment share orf 10%, versus MDX's 273 YTD sales for a share of 7.3%.

Volkswagen's Touareg was next best performer for the month with 103 sales, but remains behind Volvo's XC90 on YTD figures.

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