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VFACTS: Imports soar in record March

Top start: The new Mazda CX-5 compact SUV sold an impressive 1419 units in its first full month on sale.

Local ‘big six’ sales shrink again as SUVs put pedal to the metal

4 Apr 2012

AUSTRALIA’S home-grown large sedans took the brunt of a surge in import vehicles last month, with the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon both losing about a quarter of their volume compared with the same month last year.

The large-car segment – which also includes the Toyota Aurion that is in run-out ahead of a new model next month and the Honda Accord that has been out of supply due to the devastating Thai floods – tumbled almost 30 per cent in March, official VFACTS registration figures show.

Despite this, the overall market rose 3.9 per cent to a new March record of 97,616 units, eclipsing the previous best March tally of 94,744 in 2010.

After three months of 2012, the new-vehicle market is running 4.7 per cent ahead of last year and well on target to achieve a million sales again this year.

The March rise was again driven by rampant SUV sales, which were up 18.4 per cent, with sales of the compact variety soaring 47.5 per cent on the back of new arrivals such as the Mazda CX-5 and Subaru XV.

As GoAuto reported exclusively yesterday, Nissan outsold Ford for the first time last month, with the Japanese importer shovelling 8312 vehicles out of the showroom door in an end-of-Japanese-financial-year lunge to deliver 855 more vehicles than Ford.

This meant that Ford slumped to sixth place in the Australian sales rankings for the first time, behind perennial market leader Toyota, second-placed Holden and three importers – Mazda, Nissan and Hyundai.

106 center imageFrom top: Ford Falcon, Holden Commodore, Nissan Navara and Hyundai i20.

Blue Oval sales were down 14.3 per cent in March compared with the same month last year, to 7457 vehicles, with Falcon volumes tumbling 25.8 per cent, despite the arrival late last year of the facelifted six-cylinder model.

Ford will be hoping that the drop is the lull before the storm in the form of the showroom debut of its four-cylinder EcoBoost Falcon later this month.

At the end of the first quarter, the Broadmeadows-based manufacturer is still clinging to fifth place, but only by a bare margin of 349 units from Nissan – 20,246 versus 19,897.

A bright spot for Ford is its new Territory, which achieved a 51.5 per cent sales increase, to 1335 vehicles, which is more than Falcon.

Toyota remained market leader in both monthly and year-to-date terms, running line-ball with its 2011 performance at 18,461 sales for the month and 47,375 for the year.

The Toyota effort was propelled by a 42.8 per cent lift in sales of its latest-generation locally made Camry, to 2341 units, and the sales recovery of its top-selling ute, the HiLux, as stocks resumed from Thailand in the wake of last year’s floods.

The HiLux, with 3561 sales in March, was the second-best-selling vehicle behind the Mazda3 (3818) last month.

Toyota was also well served by segment winners Corolla (3120, up 1.7 per cent) and Yaris (1753, up 20 per cent).

Holden’s one-time bestseller, the Commodore, came in third to help the local manufacturer hang on to second place in the overall rankings ahead of a rampant Mazda.

But just as Ford is under siege from Nissan, Holden last month was just 451 sales ahead of Mazda – 10,196 to 9345.

Holden has been hamstrung by a lack of Colorado stock due to the delayed launch of its Thai-made ute, which is now due mid-year, depressing sales of the lion brand by 1.9 per cent last month.

Mazda, on the other hand, could do no wrong as it pushed showroom volumes up to a March record, thanks mainly to the arrival of its all-new CX-5 compact SUV, which achieved an impressive 1419 sales straight out of the blocks, even though the diesel model did not arrive until late in the month.

When combined with the run-out CX-7, Mazda’s small SUV contingent garnered 2911 sales, more than the segment-leading Nissan X-Trail (1769), which was Nissan’s second-best model for the month, up a huge 71.1 per cent.

Another a big improver for Nissan was the Micra, sales of which jumped 57 per cent, to 1444 units, more than making up for a slide in Dualis volume, which was down 20 per cent to 854 units.

Although Nissan’s Navara ute sales (2494) were down slightly on March 2011, it remained the company’s strongest performer.

Fifth-placed Hyundai enjoyed a massive lift in sales of its smallest car, the i20, which jumped 151 per cent to 1456 vehicles in March, contributing to the South Korean company’s 7806 sales for the month.

Although Hyundai’s top-seller, the i30 small car, slipped a little – to 2251 units compared with 2654 in March last year – its new Accent and Elantra added 661 and 718 units respectively.

Hyundai will be chuffed that its new sports coupe, the Veloster, was the top-selling sports car in the land in March, with 306 sales, helping to drive the sports segment up 31 per cent year-on-year.

Of the other players in the top 10, Mitsubishi sold 6007 vehicles, up 6.2 per cent, but the biggest winner was Volkswagen, whose 4485 sales marked a 38.9 per cent jump on the corresponding month of 2011.

VW sold 36.8 per cent more vehicles in the first quarter over the same period last year, with its market share growing to 4.6 per cent.

Kia is now also firmly in the top 10, with 2738 sales last month (up 26.5 per cent), enjoying strong gains across almost its whole range.

Honda – the company worst hit by last year’s Thai floods – continues to struggle outside the top 10, with 2247 sales last month (down 14.7 per cent).

Year-to-date, Toyota remains number one with an 18.2 per cent market share (down one percentage point), from Holden (11.1 per cent), Mazda (10.2), Hyundai (8.4), Ford (7.8), Nissan (7.6), Mitsubishi (6.1), Volkswagen (4.6), Subaru (4.0) and Kia (2.7).

VFACTS March 2012:
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