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VFACTS: Imports crunch local models

High point: The Toyota Hilux was Australia's top-selling vehicle last month after supply was restored following Thailand's recent floods.

Toyota and Mazda in ascendancy as local large cars drive down struggle street

3 May 2012

LOCAL car-makers Holden and Ford were relegated to third and fifth place respectively in the Australian new-vehicle market last month as Japanese motor companies Toyota and Mazda flexed their showroom muscle.

As expected, top full-line importer Mazda ousted Holden from second place in the sales rankings – 7681 sales to 7589 – as Holden’s one-time best-selling large car, the Commodore, suffered one of its worst sales months on record, official VFACTS sales figures released today show.

Holden’s Commodore achieved just 2248 sales, down 26.9 per cent on the corresponding month last year, contributing to a continuing slide in the large car segment, which is now down 23.2 per cent year to date.

The Commodore’s previous worst monthly performance was 2170 sales in January this year, but January is when fleet sales are at their lowest ebb each year.

The one-time king of the road could manage just fifth place in April, again falling behind its locally-made stablemate, the Cruze (2315 sales).

Holden’s position was made worse by an absence of Colorado stock ahead of the local launch of its next-generation Thai-built ute next month.

Holden can at least console itself that Commodore sales looked respectable compared with rival Ford’s Falcon, which stumbled to 1009 sales – down 30.7 per cent on April last year – as the launch of Ford’s new four-cylinder EcoBoost Falcon variant came too late in the month to save the big Ford from one of its worst monthly efforts.

A wave of imports pushed overall April sales up 6.6 per cent to 74,214 vehicles, with most of the drive again coming from SUVs (up 27.8 per cent).

Market leader Toyota came roaring back with large gains in its imported vehicle sales, particularly its HiLux ute that recovered from recent Thai flood-impacted shortages to become the nation’s top-seller in April with a whopping 3565 sales – 560 units ahead of the next best, the Mazda3 (3005 units).

The Toyota surge propelled the Japanese giant to 16,568 sales for the month, up 21.1 per cent on the same month last year, giving it a 20.9 per cent share of the market – more than the next two biggest car companies, Mazda and Holden, combined.

However, its new locally made Camry and Aurion failed to light a fire under its sales performance, up just 1.6 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively to 1602 and 629 units.

Ford’s local Territory helped to save the day for the Blue Oval brand, with sales of the recently upgraded SUV up almost 80 per cent on April last year to 1076 units – more than the Falcon sedan on which it is based.

106 center imageFrom top: Mazda CX-5, Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore.

Overall Ford sales were down just 2.5 per cent on April 2011, to 6306 units, but that was only good enough for fifth place, behind Toyota, Mazda, Holden and Hyundai.

On a monthly basis, Mazda had its best April, and has now risen from fourth place to second in three months, mainly on the back of its hot-selling new medium SUV, the CX-5, which topped 1400 sales in its second full month of sales.

The CX-5 last month was the best-selling medium SUV on the market, out-pointing the Subaru Forester (989 sales) and Nissan X-Trail (957).

Overall Mazda April sales were up 21 per cent to 7681 units, giving the importer a 9.7 per cent market share.

Year to date, Mazda still trails second-placed Holden, which is now sitting on 10.8 per cent, compared with Mazda’s 10.1 per cent, but continues to close the gap.

South Korean brand Hyundai eased up slightly in April sales, to 7017 vehicles and fourth place in the rankings, ahead of Ford’s 6306 sales, which is now running fifth in year to date, with a four-month market share of 7.8 per cent – down 1.2 percentage points.

The biggest winner among the top 10 motor companies last month was Volkswagen, which ousted Mitsubishi from seventh spot with a 25.3 per cent jump in month sales volume, to 3798 units.

While sales of VW’s top-seller, the Golf, slipped 48 per cent, the leeway was more than made up by a huge 460 per cent leap in Tiguan sales, to 846 units, Amarok 4x4 (up 542 per cent) and Jetta (up 160 per cent).

Mitsubishi was the biggest loser last month, with sales sliding 29 per cent to just 3748 units. All models in the Mitsubishi range showed red ink on the sales sheet.

Kia again clawed its way up the rankings, with sales up 24.4 per cent, to 2505 units.

Despite a continuing absence of stock from its flood-hit Thai plant, Honda managed to creep sales up 1.6 per cent, to 2486 vehicles, with honours evenly shared by the Japanese-supplied Civic (908) and Jazz (972).

In the light car segment, Toyota’s Yaris pipped Mazda’s segment leader, the Mazda2 – 1380 to 1305 – while Mazda returned the favour in Australia’s largest market segment, the small category, with the Mazda3 outselling the Toyota Corolla (3005 v 2573).

Toyota’s new Camry was again dominant in the medium segment, with 1602 units, well ahead of the next best, the Mazda6.

In SUV sales, Toyota’s Prado led the charge with 90 per cent jump in sales, to 1725 units.

Its Kluger stablemate also enjoyed a lift, up 17.6 per cent, to 1047 vehicles in April.

In the rapidly growing small SUV class, Hyundai’s ix35 reigned supreme, with 971 sales, but the big movers were the Tiguan (864) and Subaru’s new baby 4x4, the Impreza-based XV (706).

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Ian Chalmers said diesel SUVs had helped to drive an increase in the segment.

“Yet again, SUVs dominate the Australian vehicle market, with sales increasing for all sizes of SUVs in the private, business and rental sectors,” he said.

“This month however we can also see an interesting emergence of customer preference for diesel powered SUVs.” Private sales for diesel SUVs increased by 56.0 per cent (or 1530 vehicles) compared to the same month in 2011, and 47.9 per cent (5485) for the same four-month period last year.

Similarly, non-private sales for diesel SUVs increased by 47.5 per cent (1,507) compared with April 2011 and 39.3 percent (5,588) for the same period in 2011. Overall, SUV sales increased by 24.4 per cent compared with the same period last year.

VFACTS April 2012:
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