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News - VFACTS - Sales 2008 - March

March VFACTS: Corolla knocks off Commodore

Giant-killer: New Corolla is Australia's best-selling car so far in 2008.

Commodore loses its mantle as Australia's favourite car - to the Toyota Corolla

4 Apr 2008

THE Holden Commodore is no longer Australia’s favourite car, being outsold over a full quarter for the first time in a decade.

VFACTS figures show the Australian-made model, whose reign as number one has remained unchallenged for so long, was outsold in the first quarter of 2008 by the Toyota Corolla.

The imported Corolla has picked off the Commodore in seven individual months since 2005, but has never previously won a quarter.

Commodore might have outsold the Corolla in March, but by only 20 cars - not enough to overhaul the Corolla’s super start to the year. In the first quarter, Toyota sold 12,002 Corollas, while Holden sold 11,511 Commodores.

The contrasting trajectory of the two models is revealed when the figures for the first quarter of 2008 are compared to those of 2007. The Corolla has risen by 897 so far this year, while Commodore sales have slid a whopping 3259.

Toyota Australia sales and marketing director David Buttner said the Corolla quarterly win was an “important milestone for Toyota” but added that the small car had some help in achieving the victory.

“Market conditions have been especially favourable for four-cylinder cars such as Corolla,” Mr Buttner said.

“Summer holidays in January and the Easter break in March have probably reduced fleet purchases of larger cars. We anticipate sales of those vehicles will accelerate in coming months, supported by the introduction of a Commodore wagon and a revamped Falcon range.”

Mr Buttner estimated Corolla sales will continue to average 4000 a month for the rest of the year.

VFACTS sales for March also revealed the market actually slowed for the first time this year, easing off by 3.3 per cent (or 3107 sales) compared with March last year.

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Andrew McKellar said that it appeared that recent rate rises were beginning to have an effect on new car sales.

“We are yet to see any definitive effect on sales from the recent interest rate rises, although there was some evidence in March of fewer private buyers in the market,” Mr McKellar said.

Despite continuing fuel price pressure, Australian customers are still keen on SUVs, although they are walking away from large cars - down a massive 21.6 per cent for the first quarter as Australian manufacturers continue to struggle.

106 center imageLeft: Holden VE Commodore, Hyundai Getz, Toyota Camry and the Merecedes-Benz C-class.

Year-to-date sales show SUV sales have risen by 16.1 per cent for the quarter, while the total passenger car market is down by 2.6 per cent. Small cars are down 3.9 per cent, while light car sales are up 2.5 per cent.

Sales of imported cars were up 7.9 per cent to 8385 for the quarter, while locally manufactured vehicles dropped by 15.6 per cent to 7765 over the same period.

Toyota is the clear winner at the end of March, posting 60,224 sales and increasing its share by 0.9 per cent to 22.9 per cent.

Holden remains in second place, but has drifted further behind, recording 33,850 sales and dropping two points to 14.8 per cent. Ford maintains third place with 26,287 sales to the end of March, shedding 0.5 per cent of market share for 10.0 per cent.

Toyota dominated the light-car class, with the Yaris taking more than a quarter of the class market share in March with 2171 sales to comfortably beat the Hyundai Getz (1406) and Mazda2 (1327).

Suzuki’s Swift pipped the Holden Barina for fourth place by a single sale, 1151 to 1150.

Nissan is quickly establishing the Micra nameplate and shifted 620 units in March, not far behind the Ford Fiesta on 634, but the Honda Jazz struggled with just 472 sales.

Toyota continued its dominance in the small-car class with 3968 sales in March, leading the Mazda3 (3039), Mitsubishi Lancer (1902), Honda Civic (1558) and Ford Focus (1284).

Hyundai’s i30 (1019) continues to deliver solid sales, as is Subaru’s new Impreza (1050), and Holden’s Astra sits at 1040 while its Viva cousin continues to struggle with just 530 sales for the month.

Audi took the March honours in the premium small-car class (over $40,000) with the A3 recording 187 sales, while the Mini Cooper snuck ahead of its BMW 1 Series 'stablemate' 154 to 135.

It comes as no surprise that the Toyota Camry was the king of the mid-sized car class in March with 2332 sales, well clear of the new Mazda6 (937), the Subaru Liberty (598) and Honda Accord Euro (438).

Sales of Ford’s Mondeo are not meeting expectations, coming in at only 356 for the month, just 37 ahead of Holden’s Epica.

With new entrants in the segment, the Camry's 31.2 per cent share year-to-date was down from 36 per cent, while the Mazda6 sits at 16.9 per cent, down from 19.4 per cent and the aging Honda Accord Euro has had its share reduced from 11.8 to 8.9 per cent.

The Mercedes-Benz C-class was the clear winner in the (over $60,000) mid-sized luxury class with 633 sales in March and extended its year-to-date market share from 19.3 to 35.6 per cent while the BMW 3 Series slumped from 36.8 to 26.0 per cent, the Lexus IS250 went from 22.6 to 19.3 per cent and the soon-to-be-replaced Audi A4 dropped from 17.4 to 15.6 per cent.

The Commodore might have only just beaten the Corolla in March, but it was still a clear winner in the large car class.

Holden sold 3988, well ahead of the run-out Ford Falcon with 2322 and the Toyota Aurion on 2235. Honda’s larger Accord (also in run-out) recorded 924 sales, while Mitsubishi moved 702 now-extinct 380s.

Sales of the Nissan Maxima picked up by 40 to 120 units, a number that looks massive compared to Hyundai's Grandeur, which recorded just seven sales for the month.

Mercedes-Benz was again successful in the low-volume premium large car class with the E-class recording 194 sales in March to beat the BMW 5 Series (89) and Audi A6 (72), although the Benz lost ground for the quarter to the Audi.

Kia took the people-mover honours with 394 Carnival sales in March, beating the Toyota Tarago (358), its Avensis sibling (94) and the Honda Odyssey (82).

BMW 3 Series convertible was again the top-selling sportscar with 252 sales from Volkswagen’s Eos (229), the Mercedes-Benz CLK (119), Ford Focus coupe-cabriolet (107), Mazda MX-5 (99), Audi TT (86) and Holden Astra convertible (81).

The compact SUV class dropped by nine per cent in March but is still eight per cent ahead year-to-date and, not surprisingly, another Toyota topped the list.

It was the RAV4 that again came in at number one with 1349 sales, well ahead of the Nissan X-Trail (939), Honda CR-V (904), Mitsubishi Outlander (818) and the Subaru Forester, which still managed 716 despite being deep in run-out mode.

The medium SUV class managed to grow by 17 per cent in March and 22.1 per cent for the quarter, with the Toyota Kluger beating Ford's Territory in March, 1446 to 1310 - putting the Kluger just 16 units ahead for the year.

In third place, the Toyota Prado recorded monthly sales of 1052, followed by the Holden Captiva (898) and Mazda CX-9 (603).

High fuel prices have not put off buyers of large SUVs, with the segment growing by 24.4 per cent in March and 30.8 per cent for the quarter.

The new 200 Series LandCruiser is the main reason for the boost and Toyota sold 1091 units, way ahead of the Nissan Patrol with 365 sales.

The luxury SUV class also grew in March, by 13.7 per cent, with BMW’s new X5 at the top of the tree with 418 sales, ahead of the Lexus RX (214), Range Rover Sport (178), Mercedes-Benz M-class (168) and Land Rover Discovery (158).

The Toyota HiLux was the top-selling 4x2 ute for the month with 1557 sales, while the Commodore Ute (1345) edged out the Falcon Ute (1291). Ford’s Ranger sold 703 units ahead of the Mitsubishi Triton (514).

When it comes to pick-up and crew-cab 4x4s, the HiLux was still the one to beat with 1972 sales for March, in front of the Nissan Navara (1660), Holden Rodeo (930), Triton (908) and Ranger (703).

Top 10 brands in March:
Rank Make Sales % Share
1 Toyota 21,669 23.7%
2 Holden 11,211 12.3%
3 Ford 9206 10.1%
4 Mazda 7565 8.3%
5 Mitsubishi 6183 6.8%
6 Nissan 5473 6.0%
7 Honda 4390 4.8%
8 Hyundai 4193 4.6%
9 Subaru 2885 3.2%
10 Volkswagen 2593 2.8%

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