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News - VFACTS - Sales 2005 - April

Four-wheel drive sales roll on

Swift seller: Suzuki's new small car sold in record numbers in April.

Off-roaders - and Suzuki's Swift - continued to drive record new car sales in April

11 May 2005

THE immense popularity of medium-sized ‘lifestyle’ four-wheel drive wagons continues to drive the Australian new-car market.

The latest VFACTS data shows sales of medium-size ‘SUVs’ are almost 50 per cent up over last year.

This can be attributed to a raft of new model entrants, aggressive pricing and the continuing move by car buyers out of traditional family sedans.

Ford’s Territory led the way with 2093 sold last month, capturing a massive 34.2 per cent market share in what VFACTS describes as the ‘medium’ SUV segment.

Toyota twins, the Prado and Kluger, managed 1345 and 662 sales respectively in April, with the Prado enjoying a market share of 23.5 per cent behind the Territory.

Continuing production issues meant Holden sold just 56 Adventras last month, a total eclipsed only by the Suzuki XL-7 and Nissan Pathfinder with 50 and 54 sales respectively.

The smaller Japanese entrants continued to do well, with the Subaru Forester managing 936 sales in April, Toyota Rav4 917 and the Nissan X-Trail 802, while other contenders like the Subaru Outback and Honda CR-V managed 488 and 424 sales respectively. Hyundai’s new V6 Tucson found 296 buyers.

In year-to-date terms, the total SUV market, at 60,401 vehicles, is now running 7889 vehicles or 15 per cent ahead of last year.

The medium SUV segment is up 7624 units or 49.2 per cent over last year and the compact segment is also performing strongly, up 1590 vehicles or 6.5 per cent.

But not all off-roaders are experiencing growth, with large and luxury SUV sales down. Large SUV sales are down 703 units, or 9 per cent over last year while luxury SUV sales are down 622, or 12.7 per cent.

Another area experiencing a downturn is the large and luxury car segments.

The large car market slipped 6064 vehicles last month, down 10.6 per cent, and the luxury car segment was down 1224, or 11 per cent.

The slide in large passenger cars can largely be attributed to the substitution of Falcon sales into the Territory 4WD. Ford sold 2093 Territorys against 4174 Falcons.

Apart from the success of medium SUVs, the small and medium car segments remain strong. Of the small cars, the Holden Astra, Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla continue to dominate with 2846 Astras, 2390 Mazda3s and 3279 Corollas sold last month. Nissan’s perennial Pulsar managed 1354 sales.

Of the other small imports, Volkswagen’s Golf managed 811 sales, Peugeot sold 228 307s and Ford sold 559 Focuses, which are on run-out in the lead up to the arrival of the new model next month.

One of the shock successes this year has been Suzuki’s new 1.5-litre Swift. Just over 590 were sold last month, bringing its total to 1468 for the year.

Such is its popularity that some Suzuki dealers are holding forward orders for some models out to three months.

No Rover or MG cars were sold last month as the local operations were scrambling to secure on-going warranty packages for its remaining new vehicles.

Daihatsu also felt the heat of buyer resistance after Toyota announced in March that it was pulling the brand from Australia. The company sold just 265 vehicles. Its just-launched Sirion managed to find 92 buyers.

Likewise, the Swedish contingent of Saab and Volvo has had a dismal sales start.

Saab has sold just 410 9-3s and 9-5s year-todate, against 694 for the same period last year. By contrast, Volvo has sold 840 vehicles, down from 994 for the same period last year. This is despite aggressive pricing for its XC 4WD models.

The total passenger vehicle market last month notched up 193,645 sales, up by 7247 units or 3.9 per cent over last year.

Apart from the softening large and luxury car sales, all other segments performed strongly. Small cars were up 8842 units (15.5 per cent), medium cars were up 1790 (11.7 per cent), light cars were up 1378 units (5.1 per cent), prestige cars were up 1349 units (11.3 per cent), people-movers were up 725 (17.7 per cent) and sports cars were up 451 units (17.2 per cent).

In outright leadership stakes Toyota snared top spot with 15,257 vehicle sales, ahead of Holden on 14,218 and Ford in third spot with 10,293.

This gives Toyota a market share of 19 per cent and it retains market leadership in year-to-date terms over Holden by a margin of 1935 vehicles, or 0.6 share points.

Holden’s market share is 18.4 per cent while Ford’s is 13.6 per cent. Mazda, Mitsubishi and Nissan fill out the remaining top-five spots.

Last month, Mazda sold 5010 vehicles, giving it a market share of 7.2 per cent. Mitsubishi sold 4172 vehicles, earning a share of 6.5 per cent, while fifth-place getter Nissan, with 4182 sales, has a 5.9 per cent market share.

Overall, the year-to-date market of 313,300 total vehicles is running ahead of the same period last year by 15,305 vehicles, or 5.1 per cent.

The total passenger market makes up 193,645 vehicles, up 7247 vehicles or 3.9 per cent over last year. The FCAI has forecast a total market of 980,000.

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