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VFACTS: Ford continues to lose ground

New Territory: Ford’s big SUV rides the SUV sales wave in Australia while Falcon continues its decline.

Territory and Focus unable to compensate for tumbling Falcon sales in February

5 Mar 2012

FORD was again the big loser in the sales race last month, dropping a further 8.6 per cent as strong Focus and Territory sales failed to make up for the continuing collapse of Falcon sales.

Territory rode the ongoing SUV sales wave that pushed total February sales in Australia to 85,723 – an increase of 6.0 per cent on the same month last year and the highest February since 2008.

Despite the return to work of fleet buyers after the summer break, Ford sold only 1192 Falcons last month, making the one-time leader just the 17th most popular nameplate in Australia.

Adding in 403 ute sales, the Falcon model sneaks into the top ten (10th with a total of 1596 sales), but that is still a long way short of its long-time rival, the Holden Commodore that finished second again last month with 3592 total sales (2991 sedans/wagons and 601 utes), according to official VFACTS data released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

As GoAuto has reported, Ford Australia remains hopeful of a sales turnaround of its large car, particularly once the four-cylinder EcoBoost Falcon sedan hits showrooms after Easter.

Once again, the Mazda3 was the top-selling vehicle in Australia, notching up 3733 sales as Mazda posted a record February.

Toyota’s Corolla matched the Commodore sedan’s 2991 sales to be the third-most-popular nameplate last month ahead of the Holden Cruze (2880), Hyundai i30 (2433), Toyota HiLux (2272), Nissan Navara (2017) and Mazda2 (1771) and Toyota LandCruiser (1612, including wagon and utility).

106 center imageFrom top: Ford Focus, Ford Falcon, Toyota Corolla, Holden Commodore, Holden Captiva 7, Honda Accord, Mazda3 and Toyota Camry.

Toyota was again comfortably the top-selling brand for the month – with 14,849 sales – but its 17.3 per cent market share was slightly down on the previous month and the same time last year, and well below the company’s lofty expectations of 25 per cent.

Apart from Honda unseating Kia for 10th position, there was no change in the top-10 ranking – Holden was again second, ahead of Mazda and Hyundai, with Ford just 724 units clear of Nissan. Mitsubishi, Volkswagen and Subaru were next in line.

Compared to the January-February period last year, Ford was the big loser (down 1226 sales) in terms of volume, followed by Honda (down 630), which continues to suffer from Thai supply problems.

To minimise the damage, Honda Australia has thrown all its weight behind its Japanese-built Accord Euro (up 178.6 per cent YTD) and Odyssey people-mover (up 150.6 per cent YTD), as well as the Jazz, which rose 48.5 per cent in February as temporary supplies came also through from Japan.

The big winners YTD were Mazda (up 2324), VW (up 1968), Jeep (up 1557, or an incredible 159.4 per cent), Nissan (up 1116), Hyundai (up 908), Great Wall (up 766) and Kia (up 694).

Commenting on the latest results, FCAI chief executive Ian Chalmers noted the ongoing love affair between Australians and sports utility vehicles.

“The SUV market has clearly made a strong connection with auto customers by meeting their diverse needs,” he said.

“This is demonstrated by overall SUV sales being up 23.8 per cent since last month and 26.6 per cent compared with February last year.

“These impressive numbers are due to a 73.4 per cent increase in the sales of small SUVs since January 2012, which is a 68.1 per cent increase in the sales of small SUVs over that same period in 2011.”

Subaru’s new Impreza-based XV made an impressive debut, notching up 1005 sales to be the top-selling small SUV, well clear of the Nissan Dualis (despite a 35.2 per cent rise to 911 sales) and Hyundai ix35 (up 6.3 per cent to 845).

Nissan’s ageing X-Trail took out the medium SUV segment with a 75.2 per cent jump to 1349 sales – its best result since June 2005 and good enough to beat the Toyota RAV4 (1136), Subaru Forester (1030) and departing Mazda CX-7 (1010, plus 90 sales for its CX-5 replacement).

Toyota’s new Altona-built Camry, which was only launched in December, recorded only 29 more sales in February than the old model managed in the same month last year, while the new Aurion V6 variant cannot arrive soon enough with sales last month down to just 313 in run-out mode ahead of next month’s launch.

HiLux sales recovered slightly but were still down more than 20 per cent on pre-flood levels while Toyota enjoyed a massive jump for the LandCruiser (up 23.5 per cent) and Prado (up 17.2 per cent) off-roaders.

Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing Matthew Callachor said he expected the company’s sales performance to improve as the year progresses due to new product arrivals, although most of them appear to be low-volume hybrid models.

“Toyota expects to benefit from at least six new-model launches as well as significant updates to other key models,” said Mr Callachor.

“The Prius family will soon be expanded to three models with the imminent arrival of the compact Prius C city car to be followed in a few months by the larger and more versatile Prius V.

“These two new fuel-efficient vehicles will join the world’s best-selling hybrid car, the Prius hatch, which itself is about to gain refinements to its quality, performance and overall appeal.

“Toyota is also gearing up to launch the new Camry Hybrid, built right here in Australia with an unbeatable combination of performance and economy.

“The arrival of these four ground-breaking Toyota cars means that 2012 is shaping up as the year of the hybrid,” he said.

Holden enjoyed big rises in February for its Barina light car (up 85.7 per cent with a new model), Captiva 5 (up 168.0 per cent) and Captiva 7 (up 22.0 per cent) SUV twins, as well as the Cruze small car (up 11.5 per cent), but was rocked by a 21.9 per cent fall for Commodore and an even bigger hit for the Colorado ute, which is in runout ahead of an all-new model and fell 49.3 per cent to just 503 for 4x4 and 4x2 models combined.

Holden director of sales Philip Brook admitted Holden’s February result was rescued by its small cars and SUVs.

“Our Captiva line-up continues to excel in the booming SUV segment,” he said. “The Series II Captiva has been on the market for 12 months now and established a great reputation as a fantastic, all-round family favourite.

“Captiva 5 is also taking off and we’ve had two outstanding months already this year.

“We’re also coming up to our one-year anniversary for the home-grown Series II Cruze. Customers have really embraced Cruze as Australia’s small car and it regularly places in the top five.

“We’ve almost sold out of the current Colorado and we’re really excited about the arrival of the all-new model range, which will reinvigorate Holden’s LCV line-up when it hits the market later this year.”

Mazda Australia not only posted its best-ever February result (8689 sales, up 15.7 per cent) but also its third-best month ever.

All Mazda’s main models posted increases – even the Mazda6 rose 5.2 per cent – with the Mazda2 comfortably taking light-car honours with 1771 sales (up 12.7 per cent) to Toyota Yaris at 1366 (down 0.7 per cent), Hyundai i20 at 1093 (new model up 128.2 per cent) and Barina at 1023 (up 85.7 per cent).

In the always fascinating luxury-car battle, Mercedes-Benz took top honours in February (up 10.3 per cent to 1580) from BMW (up 0.8 per cent to 1221), while Audi dropped to 1200 sales, down 17.8 per cent on an unusually high sales-driven figure last year.

VFACTS February 2012:
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