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News - VFACTS - Sales 2005 - July

Small car sales boom as fuel prices soar

Compact boom: Toyota sold a record 1519 Corollas in NSW in July.

Small car sales boom as petrol prices reach record highs in July

VFACTS logo9 Aug 2005

By NEIL MCDONALD

HIGH fuel prices are driving car buyers into smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, according to the latest VFACTs sales figures issued by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

In year-to-date terms, the small-car segment now dominates, with an overall market share of 34.5 per cent compared to the large-vehicle share of 26.2 per cent.

FCAI chief executive Peter Sturrock said the results clearly pointed to a growing consumer trend towards more fuel-efficient vehicles – "although it should be pointed out that, year-to-date, sales of SUVs are actually up 7.7 per cent".

Among the small-car stars were Toyota’s Corolla, which racked up 4038 sales last month, the Mazda3 with 2825 sales, Holden Astra with 2810 and Nissan Pulsar with 1651.

Ford’s new Focus managed a respectable 915 July sales while its acclaimed Fiesta light car struggled with 275 retails for the month.

The FCAI said motor vehicle retailers were preparing for a strong five-month push for the rest of the year.

"Most importers have now forward-ordered to the end of the year in anticipation of record sales so their vehicles are in the pipeline," said Mr Sturrock. "The bases are loaded for a major sales thrust." Last month’s strong result had alleviated industry concerns that the all-time monthly record set in June was the result of a pull-through in demand caused by end-of-financial-year sales.

Demand for vehicles in the year to July was running at 4.9 per cent, slightly down on last year’s annual gain for the same period of 5.5 per cent, Mr Sturrock said.

"The slight softening is more a result of the massive June sales when 101,907 vehicles were bought in just 25 days," he said.

July’s result confirmed the underlying strength of the overall market, which Mr Sturrock believed was heading for another sales record.

The buyer shift from large cars to lifestyle 4WDs continues to worry manufacturers. SUVs now account for 18.7 per cent of the total market.

One car that has suffered particularly is Ford’s Falcon – at the hands of the all-conquering Territory.

Ford sold just 3784 Falcons last month against 1641 Territorys. In year-to-date terms Falcon sales have collapsed by 20 per cent – 31,111 versus 38,942 for the same period last year – as buyers substitute into the Territory, which continues to sell strongly.

For far this year, 14,240 Territorys have found buyers, against Holden’s struggling Adventra, which, despite a concerted television and print campaign has managed just 1283 sales this year.

Holden’s Vectra is another struggler, managing just 223 sales last month, bringing its YTD tally to just 1872 vehicles.

Despite the small-car rush, SUVs continue to confound the market with their success.

Total SUV sales are 107,675, running 7688 vehicles (7.7 per cent) ahead, in YTD terms, to last year.

The SUV medium segment – where the Ford Territory, Toyota Prado and Mitsubishi Pajero compete – is up 9435 units (29.2 per cent), while the SUV compact segment is up just 1106 sales (2.5 per cent).

As has been the trend throughout the year, not all off-roaders are experiencing growth, with large SUVs down 2392 (-16.5 per cent) and luxury SUVs softening by 461 sales (-5.5 per cent).

In outright terms, Toyota was the top-selling brand in July with 16,415 or a 21.0 per cent share of the market, ahead of Holden on 14,050 (17.9 per cent), Ford on 9338 (11.9 per cent) and Mazda with 5325 (6.8 per cent).

Overall, Toyota hangs on to the number-one sales spot with 114,391 sales (19.8 per cent market share), followed by Holden on 104,278 (18.1 per cent) and Ford on 76,082 (13.2 per cent).

Mazda is in fourth place, with sales of 39,263 YTD (6.8 per cent). Mitsubishi is close behind on 38,524, followed by Nissan, Honda, Hyundai, Subaru and Kia.

Mazda’s record sales result of 5325 last month delivered the company’s best July market share, enabling the importer to grab a 6.8 per cent market share.

The company’s national vehicle sales manager, Vinesh Bhindi, said July’s result maintained a record pace for the year, which would be aided by the launch of the updated Mazda6 range this month.

Mazda Australia has forecast sales of 63,500 vehicles this year, an increase of 7940 or 14.3 per cent on last year’s record.

Honda’s own once-a-year day sale helped bolster its July result, recording 4593 sales – its best-ever July.

Its market share soared for the month, up from 4.6 per cent in June to a record 5.9 per cent in July, which is traditionally a slow month after bumper end-of-financial-year sales. The company’s overall market share is 4.9 per cent.

Leading the pack was the perennial favourite Accord Euro with 1059 units, closely followed by the CR-V on 948. The Thai-built Accord accounted for 670 units and the Jazz 804.

Hyundai has bounced back from the media controversy surrounding the half-price Sonatas it offered to motoring journalists by having a strong month for the new European-styled car. It sold 375 of the just-launched Sonatas last month.

In total, 3919 Hyundais were sold, helping achieve a 4.8 per cent share.

Sales of 27,918 YTD for the Korean brand are up 17 per cent over last year.

Of all the highs and lows last month, one surprise was Smart, which managed 103 vehicle sales last month, thanks to increased stock. Last month’s solid result has increased YTD sales 449, almost double the last year’s figure of 234.

Of the importers, Jaguar, Renault and Proton, along with the Swedish combination of Volvo and Saab, remain at the bottom of the sales heap.

All have less than 0.5 per cent market share and in some cases are facing further diminishing share.

Saab is losing the most ground with just 781 sales YTD versus 1252 last year, but Volvo is also off the pace, selling 1578 vehicles this year compared to 1756 last year.

Renault has improved marginally with 1935 sales this year versus 1772 last year.

Proton has sold 1223 vehicles versus 811 last year, while the struggling leaper – Jaguar – has managed 561 sales versus 608 last year.

Sales boom by numbers:

2005 – 980,000*
2004 – 955,229
2003 – 909,811
2002 – 824,309
2001 – 772,681
2000 – 787,100
1999 – 786,845
1998 – 722,000
* Forecast projection

Toyota researches SUV habits

TOYOTA Australia is undertaking a detailed survey into the buyer preferences and habits of 4WD owners, in the face of changing market conditions.

According to the car-maker, Australian SUV sales have grown by more than 78 per cent over the past five years.

As it has grown, the SUV market has fragmented with the new models and variants.

The main driver of SUV sales growth over the past two years has been the SUV medium segment, which includes Toyota’s Prado and Kluger models.

"The introduction of our Kluger has not been at the expense of any other Toyota model," said Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing, David Buttner.

In fact, Prado’s sales had grown substantially since the Kluger was introduced in October 2003, he said.

"Kluger’s sales have been incremental rather than sacrificial. Along with other crossover entrants to the segment, it has grown the total SUV market.

"This is because, now that the choice of SUVs is much broader, more buyers can find exactly what they want." Although large SUV sales have declined as a proportion of overall SUV market, this is largely a result of the recent growth of the medium and small SUV segments. In addition, some large SUV sales are now counted amongst the luxury SUV segment created in 2003.

"In reality, large SUV sales have not dropped significantly in numerical terms, as there is plenty of evidence to suggest that there is a core and very loyal audience for this type of vehicle," Mr Buttner said.

In 2000, 66 per cent of LandCruiser buyers stayed within the segment when choosing a replacement vehicle.

Five years later, despite the dramatic growth in the overall SUV market, that figure is still 56 per cent. Nevertheless, Toyota believes the there is likely to be a long-term trend towards slightly smaller and more road-biased SUVs.

"Many buyers want the practicality and space of an SUV-shaped vehicle, without needing the rugged separate frame chassis, dual-range transfer case and locking hubs of a traditional four-wheel drive," Mr Buttner said.

"In coming years we are likely to introduce additional SUV models to meet the needs of new types of buyers entering the SUV market."

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