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September VFACTS: Toyota back in control

King of the hill: The Toyota Corolla returned to the head of the pack as the top-selling vehicle in September.

Corolla leads Toyota charge as quake-hit market leader resumes normal transmission

6 Oct 2011

MARKET leader Toyota turned on the sales afterburners in September as it made up ground lost in the wake of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, regaining market leadership in no fewer than 11 vehicle segments as fresh stocks flowed from the factories.

Its Corolla small car was the top-selling vehicle for the month, its 3766 sales tipping the Holden Commodore (3712), Toyota HiLux (3191) and Mazda3 (2703) off the best-seller perch, according to official VFACTS sales figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).

The resumption of normal business at Toyota helped the market to a second successive month of growth, although the industry’s September tally of 86,819 vehicles was up only 2.1 per cent compared with 85,054 sale of the same month last year.

Year to date, the market is still trailing by 3.7 per cent – 752,128 to 780,720 – but with a major breakout of special offers among major players already this month, a million-unit market is again a real possibility.

FCAI chief executive Ian Chalmers said he expected sales to top one million this year, although it would be more challenging to achieve compared with the three previous years when the industry achieved this landmark.

“Reduced sales in the second quarter of 2011 have set a challenging target for the final three months of the year, but industry resolve is high,” he said.

“Sales stimulus by means of competition in the marketplace saw the third quarter end strongly, and we are now looking toward continued growth through to the end of the year.”

106 center imageFrom top: Toyota HiLux, Holden Commodore, Mazda3, Holden Cruze, Ford Territory.

Toyota’s 17,378 sales in September represent a 7.4 per cent gain on the same month last year, restoring it to 20 per cent market share for the month.

However, Toyota’s nine-month total of 131,371 vehicles is still down 16.6 per cent on the 157,538 units sold by the company in the first three quarters of 2010.

Toyota’s good September helped to lift its year-to-date market share another notch, to 17.5 per cent – but still short of the 20.2 per cent it held at the same time last year.

Holden last month also clawed a 2.7 per cent sales gain, to 11,008 units and second place on the rankings, putting it well ahead of third-placed Ford, which slipped a gear, down 1.5 per cent to 8161 units.

September marked the first month since January that the Toyota Corolla has out-pointed the Commodore and taken the monthly crown, although the big Holden nevertheless regained its year-to-date sales lead from Mazda3 that jumped into first place last month.

With three quarters of the year gone, Holden has sold 31,977 Commodores – down 7.6 per cent on the first nine months of 2010 – compared with Mazda’s 31,439 Mazda3s (down 4.6 per cent).

A big push by the Mazda sales network in August cleared much of the Mazda3 run-out stock ahead of the introduction this month of a facelifted model, leaving the leading Japanese importer with not so many bullets to fire in September.

But with a facelifted Mazda3 now coming on stream, the race for the 2011 sales crown is far from over.

Ultimately, the main threat to the Mazda3 might come from another Holden, the Cruze, which last month recorded its fourth consecutive month above 3000 sales.

Holden is set to add the Australian-designed Cruze hatch next month, completing its small-car range just in time for a big push to the end of the year.

The success of the Adelaide-built Cruze and a 55 per cent rise in sales of the newly refreshed Ford Territory also helped to reverse the long-term sales decline of locally-made vehicles, which rose 21 per cent in September.

This was despite another disappointing month for Ford’s Falcon, which fell 24.6 per cent to 1708 sales for the month, and leaving it down 37.7 per cent for the year.

The Falcon has failed to achieve 2000 units in any month this year, although it remains the Blue Oval’s biggest seller in Australia.

Apart from the new Territory, Ford’s ship was help upright by improved sales of imports such as the Fiesta (up 59 per cent in September), the Mondeo (up 47.4 per cent) and Ranger 4x4 (up 5.9 per cent).

The Mazda sales shortage in September – down 31.8 per cent on September 2010 – allowed import-lead rival Hyundai to push into fourth place for the month, although Mazda still holds slender 826-unit lead year to date.

Hyundai achieved September’s big result without its long-time best-seller, the Getz, which recorded just one sale in September as it finally ran out.

The Korean company made up the difference with gains almost across the range to achieve a 22.7 per cent year-on-year sales rise for September, to 7508 vehicles.

Nissan was one of the big winners in September, with sales of 5892 vehicles – up 25.7 per cent on the back of strong performance by its X-Trail compact SUV (up 54 per cent), Micra light car (up 54.5 per cent) and Navara 4x4 (up 22.5 per cent).

Among the biggest losers was Honda, whose sales plummet of 28.5 per cent in September – to just 1845 units – left it in 12th place, even trailing luxury car import brand Mercedes-Benz.

Subaru also slipped, down 19.4 per cent for the month to 2503 units as Impreza sales faltered ahead of the anticipated launch of an all-new model, pushing the company’s sales decline so far this year to 12.5 per cent.

Kia made it into the top 10, with 2222 sales (up 10.3 per cent), while Volkswagen continued on its merry way, with a sales rise of 12.9 per cent – in line with its overall gain this year.

Small cars again were flavour of the month, with sales up 9.1 per cent, while the smaller light category slipped 12.8 per cent.

Medium cars, led by the locally made Camry, outsold the once dominant large cars – 7356 to 7212 – mainly as a consequence of Falcon’s dive.

In the SUV segment, the compact variety remains the most popular, even though sales slipped 2.9 per cent.

Activity in medium SUV arena – including the boost provided by the Territory – helped lift sales of these vehicles by 11.6 per cent.

In a positive sign for business in Australia, light commercial vehicles eked out a 1.5 per cent sales gain, entirely due to improved sales of the popular 4x4 utes.

Top ten makes September 2011:
Brand Sales
Movement % Share %
Toyota 17,378 7.4 20.0
Holden 11,008 2.7 12.7
Ford 8141 -1.5 9.4
Hyundai 7508 22.7 8.6
Mazda 6037 -31.8 7.0
Nissan 5892 25.7 6.8
Mitsubishi 4798 -9.7 5.5
Volkswagen 4407 12.9 5.1
Subaru 2503 -19.4 2.9
Kia 2222 10.3 2.6

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