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VFACTS: Oz auto market tracks towards million

Numbers game: Sales of Nissan's Dualis compact SUV were up 276 per cent in March.

Third strongest March on record helps to steady Australian motor sales

5 Apr 2011

AUSTRALIA’S motor industry remains on track for a million-vehicle sales year, despite a 1.3 per cent decline of first-quarter vehicle registrations compared with the same period last year.

March sales came in at 93,984, down 0.8 per cent or 760 units on March 2010’s record tally of 94,744, according to official VFACTS sales figures released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).

It was the third strongest March on record after 2010 and 2007, and represented a seasonally adjusted increase of 1.7 per cent over February and a steadying of the wobbles of the first two months of 2011.

Among the big winners last month were Ford (up 7.5 per cent) and Japanese importers Nissan (up 18.8 per cent) and Mazda (up 7.9 per cent), while losers included market leader Toyota (down 9.1 per cent), fellow local car-maker Holden (down 8.3 per cent) and South Korean importer Hyundai (down 8.6 per cent).

So far this year, the industry has registered 248,464 vehicles – a 3363 drop over the first quarter of 2010.

FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar said that notwithstanding slightly lower sales last month, the demand for new vehicles was broadly consistent with other retail and consumer demand indicators.

“The reality is the overall level of new vehicle sales remains robust and remains well above one million units over the past 12 months,” he said.

Market leader Toyota took a hit on falling sales of its ageing Camry, Corolla and Yaris models last month, with its overall sales sliding 9.1 per cent to 18,466 units in March.

With three months gone, Toyota is running 7.3 per cent behind last year’s numbers, its market share slipping below 20 per cent, to 19.6 per cent.

However, it is still well ahead of second-placed Holden, which has had its own trials this year. Its YTD sales are down 11.8 per cent, while its market share has slid to 11.9 per cent.

106 center imageLeft: Holden Commodore, Ford Ranger and Mazda 2 all had strong March sales. Below: Ford Falcon.

Last month, Holden sales eased 8.3 per cent to 10,816 vehicles as its Barina small car, Captiva, Colorado and Ute all declined.

The Holden Commodore, however, remains Australia’s top-selling car with 4170 sales last month – just 0.9 per cent down on the corresponding month last year.

As well, Holden’s Cruze small car shone, with sales of the run-out Korean-built model up 32 per cent to 2804 units, ahead of the showroom introduction of the locally made version this month.

The performance made the Cruze Australia’s fifth best-selling vehicle behind the Commodore, Toyota HiLux (4018), Mazda3 (3979) and Corolla (3067).

Ford is the only local manufacturer to make sales gains this year, up 3.4 per cent over the first three months. It market share has also recovered, to 9.1 per cent, compared with 8.7 per cent this time last year.

However, the Ford gains have been made on the back of imports such as the Fiesta, Focus, Mondeo and Ranger, with its locally made products languishing.

Last month, the Falcon – once Australia’s top-selling car – achieved just 1719 sales, placing its seventh on the best-seller list behind the Mitsubishi Triton ute.

This represents a plunge of 31.1 per cent on March last year, while YTD the big Ford is down an even more dramatic 39.3 per cent.

Falcon Ute sales last month slumped by 40.7 per cent, to 581 units. This year, Ute sales have slid 25.7 per cent.

The Ford Territory SUV, which is in run-out ahead of a major facelift, has held up slightly better, down 8.6 per cent in March to 881 units and down 6.8 per cent YTD.

Sales of the heavily discounted Ford Ranger 4x4 continued to roar ahead of the local launch of the all-new model later this year, up 86.8 per cent to 1175 units in March.

Likewise, the Fiesta (up 52 per cent), Focus (up 27.8 per cent) and Mondeo (up 69.7 per cent) all helped to make up the shortfall of the locally made products.

Mazda, buoyed by a massive 48 per cent increase in Mazda2 light car sales last month, continued on its winning way with a 7.9 per cent volume increase, to a March record 8039 units.

Its efforts actually put it ahead of Ford for third place YTD, 22,883 to 22,713, with a market share of 9.2 per cent – up from 8.4 last year.

Fellow importer Nissan is the big mover in the 2011, up 18.8 per cent in March for a YTD rise of 19.3 per cent.

Its March sales tally of 7789 was boosted by whopping 276 per cent increase in sales of its Dualis compact SUV, to 1068 units, and an even more humungous 555 per cent rise in Pathfinder sales, from a mere 43 last year to 282 this March.

Nissan has garnered a 7.3 per cent YTD market share – up from 6.1 last year.

By contrast, the bubble has burst for the golden child of the Australian market, Hyundai, whose sales this year are down 5.0 per cent, and its market share has eased to 8.1 per cent.

Its March sales tally of 7126 units represents a fall of 8.6 per cent year on year, with a 23.1 per cent decline in sales of its best-selling i30 mostly to blame.

Among other top 10 car-makers, Mitsubishi sales year to date are up 4.7 per cent, Subaru’s are up 5.0 per cent and Volkswagen’s are up 3223, while the biggest decline was recorded by Honda - down 27.4 per cent.

In March, the Honda slide accelerated with a 36.6 per cent fall. So far this year, Honda has lost one percentage point of market share, to 3.0 per cent.

In the battle of the luxury brands, Audi hung on to outpoint rival BMW for first quarter bragging rights – selling 4323 cars and SUVs to BMW’s 3927 – despite lowering its colours to the Munich company in March, 1709 to 1387.

Mercedes-Benz sold 2981 cars and SUVs for the quarter, with that figure rising to 4405 units when commercial vehicles are includes.

After three months, the SUV and light truck segment sales are up 4.2 and 2.2 per cent respectively, while the passenger car market is down 4.1 per cent.

The biggest hit has been taken by large car sales, which are down 19.2 per cent as vehicles such as the Ford Falcon, Toyota Aurion and Honda Accord struggle.

March 2011 top ten makes:
Brand Sales &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Movement Share &nbsp
Toyota 18,466 -9.1% 19.6%
Holden 10,816 -8.3% 11.5%
Ford 8698 +7.5% 9.3%
Mazda 8039 +7.9% 8.6%
Nissan 7789 +18.8% 8.3%
Hyundai 7126 -8.6% 7.6%
Mitsubishi 5626 +1.8% 6.0%
Subaru 3901 +6.0% 4.2%
Volkswagen 3223 +6.4% 3.4%
Honda 2634 -36.6% 2.8%

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