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News - VFACTS - Sales 2009

VFACTS: Cars lose more ground to SUVs, LCVs

Price leader: Sharp pricing kept Hyundai's ageing Getz ahead of the pack in the light-car class in 2009.

Long-term slide of the humble sedan continues as crossovers gain traction in market

8 Jan 2010

THE traditional passenger car’s hold on the Australian new-car market slipped again last year as sedans, hatchbacks and people-movers lost share to SUVs and increasingly family-friendly light trucks.

In 2000, passenger cars made up 70 per cent of the market – a dominance that has slipped every year since, falling to just 57.7 per cent in 2009.

Last year, passenger-car volumes fell 9.4 per cent, compared with a 3.4 per cent fall in SUV sales and a 2.1 per cent drop in LCV volume. The overall market decline was 7.4 per cent.

Effectively, passenger-car sales have remained largely stagnant for the past decade, while SUVs and utes have grown the market.

In 2009, Toyota retained its dominance of the Australian passenger-car market for the fourth year in a row, despite its 20.1 per cent decline in sales volume in the segment.

But the Japanese giant’s decline from 123,995 passenger cars in 2008 to 99,057 units last year was more than double the average decline of 9.4 per cent in the segment, and worse than major rivals Holden (down 11.1 per cent to 80,092 units) and Ford (55,596 vehicles, down 6.0 per cent).

By contrast, Korean importer Hyundai lit a fire under the big three at the bottom end of the passenger-car market, gaining 30.6 per cent in passenger car sales volume to 45,735 vehicles.

106 center imageFrom top: Toyota Corolla, Holden Commodore, Toyota Camry, Kia Carnival, BMW 1 Series Convertible.

Here is GoAuto’s wrap-up of the passenger-car market, segment by segment:Light

TWO cars that are getting a little long in tooth staged a stand-up, slug-it-out, knock-‘em-down stoush for leadership in the baby class in 2009.

In the end, it was Hyundai’s evergreen Getz which narrowly knocked off long-time segment leader Toyota Yaris, 19,643 to 19,447, to assume the crown in a class that suffered a 7.2 per cent decline for the 12 months.

With a sales rise of 13.8 per cent, Getz also locked in a top-ten position among Australia’s best sellers of all sizes, alongside its larger stablemate, the Hyundai i30.

The discounted Getz was one of the few contenders to make ground in a tough year in a tough segment, with Yaris falling 25.5 per cent, third-placed Mazda2 (13,335 units) sliding 15.6 per cent and Suzuki Swift (11,548) down 10.8 per cent.

But in a year with precious few highlights for Ford, the Blue Oval’s range baby, the Fiesta, stood out like a beacon.

The new-generation Fiesta sales grew 45 per cent on the back of the new model from Europe, to 8861 units, giving Ford much-needed action at the lower end of the market.

However, it still came up short of the leaders, slotting in to seventh place behind the Holden Barina (10,552) and Honda Jazz (9031).


TOYOTA’S just-facelifted Corolla made it a decade-long clean sweep for domination of the small-car class when it held out a hard-charging Mazda3 for supremacy in Australia’s biggest car segment in 2009.

The new-generation Mazda chipped away at the once-all-dominant but ageing Toyota small car, gaining 4.6 per cent in sales volume over the year to come up short of the Corolla, 39,013 to 35,298.

Corolla sales slipped 18.6 per cent over the 12 months – a rare backwards step for the Japanese giant-killer – which nevertheless was Australia’s best-selling car for three months during the year, not to mention runner-up to the Holden Commodore as number-one seller in the industry.

But both Toyota and Mazda will be looking over their shoulders at the new kid on the block, the Hyundai i30, which gathered an amazing 110 per cent increase in sales to notch a record 21,414 units.

Mitsubishi got back into its stride with 8.5 per cent growth in Lancer sales (21,414), while Holden’s new Cruze put smiles back on faces at Fishermans Bend by locking in 12,590 sales. This was short of traditional Astra volumes, but nevertheless it seems to be heading in the right direction as the nameplate gains traction.

Ford, however, must be scratching its collective heads over the 29 per cent plunge of its critically acclaimed Focus, which dived to 11,089 units.


TOYOTA has owned the medium-car segment for years with its locally-made Camry, mainly on the back of fleet sales, and 2009 was no exception as it sold 20,846 units for a 36 per cent share of the segment which declined a worrying 15.1 per cent in 2009 – about double the rate of the market in general.

Camry, which will be given a lift with the arrival of the Hybrid version in February, slipped 9.6 per cent in the 12 months, but it could have slipped a lot more and still not suffered a serious challenge in the segment.

Next best was the Mazda6, which declined 14.2 per cent to 8758 units, followed by the Honda Accord Euro (6237 units, down 7.7 per cent).

In the mid-sized prestige segment above $60,000, the Mercedes-Benz C-class sedan put arch rival BMW 3 Series to the sword, 6163 to 5224, even though the Beemer made up ground with a 10 per cent sales increase against the C-class’s 7.4 per cent decline.


THE once-all-important large-car segment – now almost half the size of the small-car market – is still the major battleground for the local car-makers, and Holden’s Commodore prevailed for the 14th consecutive year.

The big Holden notched 44,387 sales – down 13.1 per cent on 2008 – to not only dispatch Ford’s Falcon (31,023 units, down 2.9 per cent), but also hold out Toyota’s Corolla for the overall industry crown.

Toyota’s Aurion again was along to make up the numbers with 13,910 units, down a brow-furrowing 28.9 per cent.

The top import large car was the Thai-made Honda Accord, which slipped 20.9 per cent year on year.

The worry for the local manufacturers is the rate of decline of this segment, down a further 15.1 per cent in 2009, again about double the fall of the market in general. And petrol prices were relatively low in 2009 ...

In the expensive end of the large-car market, above $70,000, it was a race in one with the Mercedes-Benz E-class crunching all comers with a 50 per cent volume increase to 1762 units and a segment share of 40.9 per cent.

Next best was BMW’s 5 Series with 804 units after heading south to the tune of 41.9 per cent, followed by the Audi A6 which flat-lined on 582 units.

Upper large

HARDLY worthy of its own segment since the demise of the long-wheelbase Ford Fairlane and LTD, this segment has all but disappeared, down a further 38.2 per in 2009 to just a total of 2874 vehicles.

The Holden WM Statesman/Caprice twins did the business, thanks again to fleet sales, with Caprice leading on 1455 units and Statesman bringing up the rear on 584 units. The latter suffered a decline of 67.6 per cent over the year, highlighting the emphasis placed on Caprice marketing by Holden.

The future of the Statesman/Caprice – and indeed the whole segment – will depend in future on the success of Holden’s exports, especially the upcoming Police Pursuit Vehicle for the US. Without substantial export demand, it is hard to see GM spending the cash on another generation.

The only other car worth recording in this segment was Chrysler’s 300C, which slipped 24.4 per cent to 822 units.

In the upper-crust $100,000-plus upper-large-car segment, BMW’s new 7 Series dominated, selling 294 units to grab the lead back from arch rival Mercedes-Benz S-class (222).

People movers

ONCE the province of the Japanese manufacturers, particularly Toyota, the lowly people-mover segment has increasingly become the playground of the Koreans, with Kia and Hyundai taking a firmer hold of a shrinking pie, down 13.3 per cent in 2009.

The price-friendly Kia Carnival again was number one, with 3095 sales and 30 per cent market share, well ahead of Toyota’s venerable Tarago (1907 units).

While Honda’s Odyssey was in third place (1120 units), Hyundai’s keenly priced iMAX came home with a wet sail, grabbing 1060 sales – a 57.7 per cent rise in volume over 2008.


JUST to underline the perverse nature of buyers in a near-recession, the sportscar segment was one of the few chunks of the market to record growth in 2009, up 1.8 per cent as buyers shrugged off the gloom by going out to buy something nice.

And they wanted variety, spreading their purchases across the 60-model segment – the most crowded field of all.

In the end, it was BMW’s 1 Series Coupe/Convertible that took the blue ribbon in the section up to $80,000, with 2287 sales, ahead of the rival Benz C-class Sports Coupe (1235 units) and Volkswagen Eos (1159).

Above $80,000, the larger BMW 3 Series Coupe/Convertible was the victor with 1760 units, ahead of Audi’s A5 (1050).

In the rarified sports segment above $200,000, Porsche’s 911 was the colossus, selling 206 vehicles for a 25 per cent share. Maserati (120 units) and Ferrari (104) brought up the rear.

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