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VFACTS: Passenger car sales drop in August

Close race: The Mazda3 retained second place in the August sales figures with 3124 units shifted, 123 units behind the top-selling Corolla.

Local car market continues to slow down as business and passenger sales fall

3 Sep 2014

AUSTRALIA'S new-car market took a 5.5 per cent hit in August, with many mainstream brands losing sales in the passenger car segment, as business buyers took a break for the month.

VFACTS data released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) reveals that 88,157 vehicles were sold last month, down from 93,336 in August last year, with passenger cars experiencing the most significant drop of 11.2 per cent, to 42,658 sales.

SUVs and light commercial segments remained stead in August, with high-riding wagons up by just 0.1 per cent for the month and LCVs rising by 0.5 per cent.

Business sales dropped off in all segments last month, with corporate passenger numbers down by 6.0 per cent, SUVs by 9.6 per cent and LCVs by 3.9 per cent.

Government sales were something of a mixed bag, with SUVs growing by 29.6 per cent and passenger cars up by 1.3 per cent, while light commercial sales dropped off by 7.4 per cent for the month.

VFACTS recorded sales slides in all states and territories, with the most dramatic declines in the Northern Territory (-16.5 per cent), Western Australia (-10.2 per cent) and Queensland (-10.1 per cent), indicating that the slow down in the mining sector has not abated.

Toyota maintained its solid lead as the top-selling brand in the country with 15,638 sales for a 17.7 per cent market share, despite slipping 11.9 per cent compared with last August, but it continued its healthy lead over rival Holden which dropped 18.6 per cent for a haul of 8635 units and a 9.8 per cent share.

South Korean car-maker Hyundai is again the best-selling full-line importer and is closing the gap on Holden, with a 10.2 per cent sales boost bringing its August total to 8601 units, just 34 units behind GM.

In a statement, the company said that last month was its strongest August yet, while its 9.8 per cent market share was its best result since April 1999. It was also the 27th consecutive month of year-on-year growth.

Mazda stayed in fourth place for the fourth straight month with a 23.4 per cent drop for 7529 sales and an 8.5 per cent share of the market, while Ford rounded out the top five with an 11 per cent increase and 6908 units registered.

Nissan and Mitsubishi have been jostling for sixth place all year, and last month it was the latter that edged out its rival by 109 units. Despite a 7.0 per cent drop, Mitsubishi moved 5233 vehicles while Nissan managed 5124, for a market share of 5.9 and 5.8 per cent respectively.

German brand Volkswagen held firm in eighth spot with 4066 sales – a 9.7 per cent drop – with Subaru following on 2901 sales as Honda narrowly held onto tenth spot, with a 16.5 per cent decrease and 2759 sales.

Jeep just missed out on a top ten placing with 2628 sales, ahead of Mercedes-Benz (2360), BMW (2008) and Kia (1960).

Toyota's Corolla held onto top spot as Australia's favourite car, with 3247 sales last month, edging out arch rival the Mazda3 on 3124 units. Year to date, the Corolla is still the country's top pick with 29,213 sales to the end of August compared with 29,069 for the Mazda3.

Once again light-commercial utilities featured heavily in monthly best-sellers, with the Toyota HiLux staying firm in third place, while Ford's increasingly popular Ranger held onto sixth (2222 sales), ahead of the soon-to-be-replaced Mitsubishi Triton (1799), as Holden's resurgent Colorado range capped off the top 10 with 1637 sales.

The VF Holden Commodore was the most popular locally-built car last month finding 2344 homes to take fifth spot, while Toyota's Camry sedan landed in eighth place with 1685 sales.

Knocking on the door of the top ten was Jeep's Grand Cherokee SUV with 1477 sales and the Hyundai ix35 compact SUV on 1447 units.

Some of the more niche segments fared well last month, with upper large SUVs over $100,000 up by 26.4 per cent thanks to growth of the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class and the latest Range Rover.

Despite the relatively small volumes, the upper large over $100k passenger segment got a massive 400 per cent boost thanks to increased interest in the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Porsche Panamera.

People-movers continued to trend upward on the back of fresh product, including the Honda Odyssey (+133.7 per cent) and Citroen Grand C4 Picasso (+450 per cent), as older models such as the Hyundai iMax (+148.4 per cent) continued to punch above its weight.

Further growth was found in the 4x4 pick-up segment which grew by 6.0 per cent, while small SUVs were up by 7.7 per cent thanks to gains from the Subaru XV, Mitsubishi ASX and smaller players such as the Chery J11 and Mini Countryman.

Two-wheel drive pick-ups failed to fire in August, diving 14.9 per cent on the back of slow business sales, as sports cars above and below $80,000 lost ground by 30.5 per cent and 14.8 per cent respectively.

Mid-sized passenger cars continued to fall by 19.9 per cent last month and small cars under $40,000 fell by 17.4 per cent, bucking a previous trend of growth in the segment.

Some models experienced bounce backs in August, including the tiny Mitsubishi Mirage, which gained 57.1 per cent over the same month last year with 721 sales, while Honda managed some rare good news with its Jazz and City light-car twins jumping by 85.6 and 307 per cent respectively.

The popularity of Subaru's WRX (up 184 per cent) has had an impact in the showroom and on the related Impreza small car, which saw a 153.5 per cent improvement for 403 sales, while Skoda's Octavia continued to climb with a 142.4 per cent leap.

Other winnsers were Ford's Kuga compact SUV with 683 sales marking a 104.5 per cent boost and the Range Rover Sport on 250 sales for a 131.5 per cent boost.

Top 10 selling brands August 2014
Brand Sales Variation %
Toyota 15,638 -11.9
Holden 8635 -18.6
Hyundai 8601 10.2
Mazda 7529 -23.4
Ford 6908 11.0
Mitsubishi 5233 -7.0
Nissan 5124 7.5
Volkswagen 4066 -9.7
Subaru 2901 0.7
Honda 2759 -16.5
Top 10 selling models August
Brand Sales
Toyota Corolla 3247
Mazda3 3124
Toyota HiLux 2918
Hyundai i30 2651
Holden Commodore 2344
Ford Ranger 2222
Mitsubishi Triton 1799
Toyota Camry 1685
Mazda CX-5 1649
Holden Colorado 1637

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