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VFACTS: Ford’s Falcon sales slump 50 per cent

Low-flying Falcon: Ford's locally-made large car tumbled to just 1157 sales last month.

Local large car sales crunched in January as market slips 1.7 per cent on Qld floods

3 Feb 2011

SALES of locally-made large cars plunged to their lowest levels in memory in January, with Ford’s Falcon sedan slumping 50 per cent compared with the same month last year, to a record low 1157 sales.

Official VFACTS data out today shows Holden’s Commodore also took a hit, down 18.4 per cent to 2645 units, helping to drag overall Holden sales down 19.9 per cent – the biggest drop of all the major car companies in Australia.

The overall new-car market retreated 1.7 per cent, partly because of lower sales in flood-hit Queensland – down 12.8 per cent or almost 2000 vehicles – and also because January 2010 sales were lifted artificially by the federal government’s 2009 tax breaks that spilled into the following year.

Total sales of cars and trucks amounted to 73,584 vehicles compared with 74,864 units in the corresponding month last year, but the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) says the tally would probably have been higher if not for the Queensland flood disaster.

While sales of light and small cars and SUVs held up well, the large car segment took the biggest dump, down 30.9 per cent to just 5056 vehicles, while light trucks also fell by 8.4 per cent.

The Victorian-built Falcon – whose future as a locally-made car is now being debated in Ford boardrooms – crashed from 2318 sales in January 2010 to 1157 units last month.

According to GoAuto records, the previous worst month for Falcon sedan and wagon was January 2008, when the Blue Oval shipped just 1252 Falcon passenger vehicles at the height of the global financial crisis.

106 center imageFrom top: Toyota Corolla, Holden Commodore and Mazda3.

The Falcon slump – which Ford Australia says is largely due to a lack of LPG-equipped cars until it can launch its new liquid LPG vehicles later this year – weighed Ford down on what was otherwise a reasonable month for the brand, with sales of its Fiesta, Focus, Escape and Ranger 4x4 all making good progress.

Ford’s overall tally was 6413 vehicles – down 4.7 per cent – relegating it to fourth place behind market leader Toyota (14,817 units), second-placed Holden (8385) and leading importer Mazda (7200).

Ford was also just three units ahead of fifth-placed Hyundai (6410), which lacks Ford’s broad light commercial vehicle range.

Ford public affairs director Sinead McAlary told GoAuto that Ford was relatively pleased with its January sales, citing the increases in sales of its imported models and break-even performance of its Territory SUV as examples.

But she said Falcon was impacted by a lack of cars fitted with LPG systems, because Ford discontinued production of the previous vapour system last year and was waiting on the arrival of a new-generation LPG injection system in Falcons later this year.

LPG Falcons – popular with fleets, including taxis – usually make up between 20 to 25 per cent of Falcon sales.

Toyota led the way on almost every front in January, with its Corolla again out-selling Holden’s traditional market leader Commodore, 4045 units to 2645, to take the best-selling car crown for the third month in a row.

Unlike its local rivals, Toyota gained both volume and share in January, lifting sales by 1.7 per cent to record a 20.1 per cent market share – a rise of 0.68 percentage points.

However, sales of its locally-made Camry (1057 units) and V6 variant, the Aurion (654), were both down, with Aurion taking the biggest fall (down 25.1 per cent) in the troubled large car arena.

Holden got slammed across the board, with sales of all of its top sellers dropping. Recent winners such as Captiva, Cruze and Barina – all imported from South Korea – took a dip, with the ageing Colorado one-tonner sliding 66 per cent in 4x2 form.

The Holden Utility was down by 30.6 per cent compared with last year’s tax-break charged market, but it at least outsold Ford’s Falcon Ute, which managed to break even at 479 units – the same as January last year.

Mazda’s ever-popular Mazda3 small car recorded 3605 sales (up 11.9 per cent) in January to help drive an 8.1 per cent increase in the brand’s volume, to 7200 units.

The Japanese importer, whose sales are often strong in January when private buyers dominate the showrooms while fleets take a summer break, took a 9.8 per cent share of the market – up from 8.9 per cent last year.

Korean importer Hyundai continued to make inroads, with sales up 3.3 per cent, led by its top-selling Getz light car. However, the Getz is now in run-out, placing a question mark over whether it can maintain its latest 8.7 per cent market share in the medium term.

Among the other importers, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Volkswagen all made gains, while Honda continued its run of outs, slipping to just 3.0 per cent market share with a worrying 25.9 per cent drop in volume to 2227 vehicles.

Passenger car sales were line-ball with January 2010, at 43,539, while SUV sales grew 0.8 per cent, to 17,032 units, driven mainly by rises in compact and large SUVs.

Light commercial sales slipped 8.4 per cent, mainly because January 2010’s volumes were so bouyant as tradies and farmers got in for their tax-break enhanced vehicles.

Sports cars were also out of favour, down 32.5 per cent to just 1064 units.

FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar described the January vehicle market as solid, despite the significant decrease in Queensland sales due to the floods.

“This is a robust January sales result and provides a good start to 2011,” he said.

“It is encouraging to see that private buyers remained confident throughout January with sales to those customers up 13.6 per cent while business purchases declined.

“Obviously new vehicle sales in Queensland have taken a hit as people concentrate on the flood recovery effort.

“We can expect sales in Queensland to be slower in the short-term but will pick up in the months ahead as people begin to look for replacement vehicles.” Toyota Australia's senior executive director for sales and marketing, David Buttner, said Corolla was a stand-out performer in a tough month for the industry.

“We supported Corolla strongly with advertising and marketing offers, just as our competitors did with their leading cars,” he said.

In the luxury market, fast-growing Audi’s 1477 sales (up 11.2 per cent) in January gave it leadership, ahead of BMW (1007 units, down 32 per cent), Mercedes-Benz (967 units, down 34.8 per cent) and Lexus (409 units, up 0.2 per cent).

January 2011 top ten makes:
Brand Sales Movement Share
Toyota 14,817 +1.7% 20.1%
Holden 8,385 -19.9% 11.4%
Mazda 7,200 +8.1% 9.8%
Ford 6,413 -4.7% 8.7%
Hyundai 6,410 +3.3% 8.7%
Nissan 4,876 +17.7% 6.6%
Mitsubishi 4,537 +12.3% 6.2%
Subaru 3,531 +8.3% 4.8%
Volkswagen 2,408 +3.0% 3.3%
Honda 2,227 -25.9% 3.0%

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