News - VFACTS - Sales 2008 - August

VFACTS: Not an August month for new car sales

Downturn: Sales of new vehicles slipped more than 10 per cent last month.

New car sales stall as buyers brace against a softening economy and luxury tax fears

VFACTS logo4 Sep 2008


NEW vehicle sales plummeted last month as Australian buyers reacted against looming economic uncertainty and the federal government’s proposed 33 per cent luxury car tax.

But, at the two-thirds point of the year, the million-unit mark is still within reach for 2008, with the market still slightly ahead compared to the same time last year, with the light, small and sport utility vehicle segments continuing to grow.

According to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), in contrast to July, August slipped by 7.9 per cent (July: 83,976), which – seasonally adjusted – is a 10.1 per cent slide.

Year-to-date results

Nevertheless, the overall sales tally so far in 2008 to the end of August is still up (just, at 0.7 per cent or 5122 units), 703,995 versus the 698,873.

Sales stalled all round in August 2008 against August 2007: Passenger vehicles shed 6634 units, or 12.6 per cent SUVs fell by 3207 units or 18.4 per cent Light trucks lost 615 units or 4.2 per cent and heavy commercial vehicles were down 426 units or 12.7 per cent.

Of the top 10 manufacturers and importers in August year-to-date (YTD) terms, half of them advanced (Toyota, Mazda, Hyundai, Subaru and Volkswagen) while Holden, Ford, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Honda conceded market share.

Toyota’s YTD total of 165,641 (for a 23.5 per cent market share) exceed the combined efforts of Holden (88,969, for a 12.6 per cent market share) and Ford (72,536, for a 10.3 per cent share), or all of fourth, fifth, sixth and tenth place-getters put together – being Mazda (54,831/7.8 per cent), Mitsubishi (43,544/6.2 per cent), Nissan (40,986/5.8 per cent) and Volkswagen (21,515/3.1 per cent) respectively.

Honda, Hyundai and Subaru YTD filled out the remaining spots at 37,256 (5.3 per cent market share), 31,810 (4.5 per cent) and 26,745 (3.8 per cent) respectively. YTD, the overall passenger vehicle market for the year is down 14,362 (or 3.4 per cent) to 413,207 units, but within this category the light and small car segments strengthen, with the former notching up 3024 more sales (a 3.6 per cent rise) to reach 87,416 units for 2008, and the latter 2959 more (for a 1.9 per cent jump), to lead everything else with 160,203 sales.

YTD medium (59,540) and large (80,933) car sales continue to languish, down 1.9 and 15.2 per cent respectively, as do upper-large (-33.7 per cent), people-movers (-20.6 per cent), and sports cars (-1.7 per cent) – feeling the now-dead proposed LCT increase most.

But YTD sport utility vehicle (SUV) volume is expanding, with 138,744 versus 129,738 sales, thanks to strong medium SUV (up 12.3 per cent at 53,924) and large SUV (up 29.5 per cent at 11,153) showings.

Resource booms appear to work wonders for YTD light commercial vehicle sales, with light buses (2436), vans (17,253), 4x2 pick-up (50,338) and 4x4 pick-up (57,285) volumes pumped up by 44.6, 28.5, 8.7 and 1.9 per cent respectively so far in 2008. Only trucks 2.5-3.5 GVM fell YTD, by 12.6 per cent to 821 units.

Heavy Commercial vehicles YTD are up 883 units to 23,912.

106 center imageLeft: Toyota Yaris, BMW 1 Series Coupe, Subaru Forester, Falcon Ute.

Monthly results

Crunching the August numbers, sales stalled all round against the same month in 2007.

Passenger vehicles shed 6634 units (46,114 versus 52,748, or 12.6 per cent) SUVs fell by 3207 units to 14,233 or 18.4 per cent light trucks lost 615 units to 14,048 or 4.2 per cent and heavy commercial vehicles were down 426 units to 2929, or 12.7 per cent.

Only light bus sales rose, by 105 units to 293.

Light cars

Light-car sales accounted for 12 per cent of the market. Of the 9490 light-cars (under $25,000) sold in August (down 675 units from August 2007), one in five was a Toyota Yaris (1924), followed by 1686 Hyundai Getzs, 1173 Mazda2s (almost three times as many as its forebear managed in 2007), and 1019 Suzuki Swifts.

Honda’s Jazz and the Holden Barina were both in low-stock run-out phase at 586 and 669 units respectively, trailing the consistent Kia Rio (769) and Ford Fiesta (462). Supply constraints continue to keep Nissan’s Micra down (397).

In the $25K-plus light car brigade, the Peugeot 207’s 48.5 per cent share is double that of the second-placed Fiat 500, at just 103 and 48 units respectively.

Small cars

At 22.6 per cent of the market, small is still king, with the Toyota Corolla’s 3903 sales (for a 22.4 per cent share) its sub-$40K class crowned prince.

With only months to go before the next-generation model being unveiled, Mazda3 sales continue to astound at 2693 units for a 15.4 per cent market share, almost doubling that of the fourth-placed Mitsubishi Lancer sedan at 1404 units (the Sportback hatch version arrives in November), which in turn is not too far behind the ageing hatch-only and third-placed Holden Astra (1615).

Heavy promotional activity aided the improving Astra, as it did the Nissan Tiida (1170) and Ford Focus (1018), but the latter is down by almost one-third compared to August 2007.

That’s still better than the almost 50 per cent drop recorded by the Honda Civic (at 964, it trails the much more expensive VW Golf by 18 units), but at 857, the Subaru Impreza continues to improve over last August, while Hyundai should be pleased with the i30’s 859 sales.

The Holden Viva (388), Hyundai Elantra (308), Suzuki SX4 (180) and Citroen C4 (84) are all down significantly on last year.

In the over-$40K small-car market, more than one-third of all sales go to the Mini Cooper (161), leaving the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series to fight for second place (103 versus 100).

Medium cars

Despite a host of new model activity, sub-$60K medium sales are slipping again, to 6.4 per cent of the total market against 7.1 per cent in August last year.

At 1557 sales, the Camry rules the roost for a 31.3 per cent share, and then it is a huge drop to the second-placed Mazda6 (which, at 680 units, is worryingly down on the old model’s 840-sales result recorded in August 2007, despite a much-publicised price drop).

This contrasts to the new Honda Accord Euro’s 653-unit tally for a 13.1 per cent market share, which is almost double that of its predecessor’s performance during the same time last year.

Ford continues to dominate Holden, with Mondeo sales slowly growing (498) against a shrinking Epica (277). Even Subaru’s near-pensionable Liberty outsells the latter at 374 units.

Uncharacteristically, Audi is outselling BMW in the $60K-plus medium market (down 0.2 per cent overall to 1.7 per cent) with its new-generation A4 (306 versus 293 3 Series), while the Audi is also the only model except for the Jaguar X-Type to actually increase sales over the August 2007 tally, but all must bow to the 439 units recorded by the leading Mercedes-Benz C-class.

Large cars

Sales of large cars under $70K continue to contract with just 9290 sales against last year’s 10,912, for a 12 per cent market share.

Commodore is dominating Falcon in both the numbers department (4814 versus 2708) and market share percentage points (51.8 versus 44.9), with the latter riding higher on Sportwagon sales.

Unfortunately for Ford, FG sales are actually under what the BF II Falcon’s 2973 managed for the same month last year. It would be cold comfort that Commodore is also down, by 85 units.

Toyota’s Aurion continues to trail with 1088 sales (August 2007: 1873), but the recently redesigned Accord has nearly doubled its sales, to 538 from 329 units over the same month last year. Honda says it is scoring biggest among non-fleet buyers.

Some 30 Mitsubishi 380s were sold, while Nissan found homes for 100 Maximas. That’s tough, but not compared to the two Grandeurs shifted by Hyundai.

Moving on to the large over-$70K segment, Mercedes’ promotional work on the geriatric E-class is showing results (136 units), leading the second-placed BMW 5 Series (88) and bronze-medal Audi A6 (38). The Jaguar XF’s 32 sales outstrip its S-Type predecessor’s six units sold in August 2007.

In the Sub-$100K upper-large category, almost 75 per cent of all sales go to either the Holden Statesman (48.2 per cent, or 186 units) or the Holden Caprice (101, or 26.2 per cent).

Chrysler’s 300C is third with 90 cars finding buyers in August, while the once mighty Fairlane is fading into history, with just nine vehicles leaving new-car showrooms.

Over-$100K upper-large sales are really struggling at 58 units against 92 last year, and it is a neck-and-neck race for first place with both the Mercedes S-class and BMW 7 Series shifting 18 units.

Blame the LCT tax fears for the miniscule results here.


It’s a two-horse race in the sub-$55K people-mover market too, with the Toyota Tarago (234) leading the Kia Carnival (176) convincingly, while Mercedes’ Vito wagon – at 43 units – has 43.4 per cent of the over-$55K people-mover class, ahead of the newly released Chrysler Grand Voyager (28 units).

Sport cars

An interesting tussle is forming between the BMW 1 Series Coupe and Convertible (170) and the VW Eos (130) in the sub-$80K sports car market, while the over-$80K segment is dominated by the BMW 3 Series Coupe and Convertible, recording 181 sales for 37.9 per cent of the class.

In the rarefied field of sports car over $200K, only seven units separate the leaders, Ferrari and Porsche (both on 17 sales each), from Aston Martin, Maserati and the Mercedes-Benz SL-class.


In August, there were 6588 Compact SUVs sold against 8216 for the same month in 2007.

Japan downright dominated. In order of sales are the popular new Subaru Forester (1534), Toyota RAV4 (922), Nissan X-Trail (739) Mitsubishi Outlander (638) and Honda CR-V (633).

Medium SUV sales fell a similar amount, to 5438 from 6644. The Toyota Prado (1199) and Kluger (925) sandwiched the once-leading Ford Territory (994), with the Holden Captiva’s 645 tally being the best of the rest.

In the Large SUV class Toyota too ruled, thanks to the LandCruiser wagon’s whopping 63.6 per cent share (612 sales), almost doubling the second-placed Nissan Patrol (332) and leaving the third (and last) placed Jeep Commander flailing at just 18 units.

Moving onto the luxury SUV results, BMW is making hay with the X5’s 232 sales (down from last year’s 396 units, by the way), followed by the Lexus RX with 161 sales (last year: 225), and the runout Mercedes-Benz ML shifting 120 units (August 2007: 178).

Commercial vehicles

Toyota is tops in vans (HiAce: 690 units) and light buses (HiAace Bus: 258 units), the new FG Falcon Utility helped Ford dominate in the 4x2 pick-up sector against Holden’s VE Commodore (1302 versus 837 – but the Toyota HiLux came in second at 1216 units).

The HiLux again showed its dominance in the 4x4 pick-up class, where its 2199 sales blitzed its main opposition (Nissan Navara 4x4: 1088).

Share with your friends

VFACTS articles

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.