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VFACTS: Nissan edges out Holden in sales race

Turning Japanese: Nissan passes Holden in the top 3 thanks to strong Navara sales.

Surprise as Japanese brand overtakes Australian stalwart

5 Mar 2013

HOLDEN may have won the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide last weekend, but Nissan has edged out the top-three stalwart in the showroom as the third-most popular brand in February.

Holden has blamed the fall to outside the top three in the monthly sales race on a computer hiccup that cut the connection between the factory and its dealer network.

The VFACTS figures released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries today reveal a market that has increased its momentum compared with the same time last year, with overall sales rising to more than 90,200 for the month – a 5.2 per cent gain over February last year.

Overall, the combined sales numbers are 8.1 per cent ahead of where the market was in the first two months of last year, and rushing towards a record 1,135,000 figure if the momentum remains.

However, while that is good news for the new-car market generally, the strength in the market comes at the cost of medium and large passenger car sales, which have each fallen by more than a quarter.

Toyota remains the most popular brand in Australia, selling 16,017 vehicles in February and clawing back some lost market share.

Mazda has cemented its place as the second most popular brand, recording 8728 sales for the month and also posting some positive growth.

However, Nissan has managed to edge out Holden, posting 8212 sales mainly helped by its Navara ute compared with Holden’s 7683 sales – the brand’s second-lowest monthly sales figure since buyers were treading water ahead of the VE Commodore’s launch in 2006.

GM Holden spokesman Craig Cheetham said the car-maker had a tough month in February, which was not helped by the introduction of a new computer system linking the factory with its dealer network.

“We had difficulties in delivering and invoicing to dealers and customers,” Mr Cheetham said. “We are working to resolve them ASAP.” The Mazda3 small car dominated the charts, posting a combined 3378 sales, while Toyota’s HiLux work ute followed closely behind with 3319 sales for its two- and four-wheel-drive models.

Toyota’s all-new Corolla pegged 3158 sales to give it third place in the rankings.

Nissan’s Navara and Mitsubishi’s Triton work utes filled out the top five with 2645 and 2335 sales respectively.

While sales of the locally built Cruze small car appear to have lost a little momentum despite strong gains in its market segment, sales of the formerly best-selling Commodore were particularly hard hit during February.

Holden reported a shortfall of some models as the large car is run-out ahead of the mid-year launch of the significantly upgraded VF Commodore.

“Omegas and V8s are hard to get, and our flagship Caprice model is also in tight supply,” Mr Cheetham said.

Commodore is not the only locally made large car to have suffered in the showroom during February.

Ford’s Falcon slumped to only 868 sales for the month, its second lowest result on record.

Company spokesperson Sinead Phipps told GoAuto that the figure was indicative of what was happening in the large-car segment generally.

“Year-to-date, the large-car segment is down 28.5 per cent and Falcon’s year-to-date decline is less than that, at 22.5 per cent,” Ms Phipps said. “Falcon and Territory are both holding strong in their segments.” The locally made Territory large soft-roader continues to hold ground, with sales slipping by only six per cent for the month to 1316, although year-to-date sales are ahead of last year.

It was a different story at Toyota, which saw Aurion sales rebound slightly for the month to record the only positive growth in the large-car segment.

Sales of the mid-size Camry fell slightly to post only 1459, a 6.6 per cent decline compared with February last year.

Overall, the number of locally made cars sold in Australia fell to only 8235, an almost 30 per cent slump compared with the same month last year.

Holden’s fall in the rankings was an opportunity for other brands in the marketplace – particularly for Honda, which outsold Japanese rival Subaru to take ninth spot on the sales chart.

A big update to Honda’s CR-V compact soft-roader has helped lift the car-maker’s sales beyond Subaru’s, although the latter is yet to see how buyers respond to its new-generation Forester introduced in January.

Hyundai edged out Ford for fifth spot, mainly on the strength of its ix35. The car-maker has had to turn to Europe to bolster supplies of the soft-roader to keep up with showroom demand.

Ford’s shining light, in the meantime, is the Ranger ute, which continues to build momentum ahead of the Territory and behind the Focus small car.

Mitsubishi has gained ground with its all-new Mirage small hatchback, which has plugged an important gap in the Japanese car-maker’s showroom.

Volkswagen, meanwhile, still leans heavily on its Golf small hatchback for the bulk of its sales, although the numbers have fallen compared with last year.

However, expect a sales bounce for the VW stalwart when the new-generation Golf VII launches in April this year.

Australia’s love affair with soft-roaders continues to grow, with sales in the segment eating deeper into other parts of the market.

Sales in the segment jumped 14.2 per cent, while overall passenger car sales fell 5.7 per cent compared with the same month last year.

The sports segment, meanwhile, posted a big month of gains, mainly on the back of Toyota’s 559 sales posted for its affordable 86 coupe.

Interest in the cheaper end of the segment shot up by almost 50 per cent for the month compared with February last year.

Top 10 brands in February
Position Brand Sales % Share
1 Toyota 16,017 17.8
2 Mazda 8728 9.7
3 Nissan 8212 9.1
4 Holden 7683 8.5
5 Hyundai 7505 8.3
6 Ford 6591 7.3
7 Mitsubishi 6009 6.7
8 Volkswagen 4200 4.7
9 Honda 3862 4.3
10 Subaru 3106 3.4

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