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VFACTS: Records smashed again as SUV, ute sales soar

On top: Toyota’s Corolla topped 2013 vehicle sales in Australia, although most of the industry’s growth came in the SUV market.

Passenger cars outnumbered as buyers opt for SUVs and utes in record numbers


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6 Jan 2014

UPDATED 12:30 AESTTRADITIONAL passenger cars were in the minority last year for the first time in more than a century of Australian automotive retail sales as SUVs and utes drove the market to new heights in 2013.

According to official VFACTS figures released today, the industry notched up a record 1,136,227 vehicle sales for the calendar year, eclipsing the previous record of 1,112,032 vehicles set in 2012.

This represents a 2.2 per cent increase over the previous year, and marks the fourth consecutive year of million-plus sales and the sixth time the industry has achieved the landmark since it was first done before the global financial crisis in 2007.

Toyota scored a major double, not only winning market leadership for the 11th consecutive year but also – for the first time – fielding the top-selling car on the Australian market, the Japanese-made Corolla, which ousted the winner for the past two years, the Mazda3, which is in run-out ahead of an all-new model arriving this month.

While sales of traditional passenger cars effectively marked time, it was left to the modern family car of choice – the SUV – to grow the market … again.

SUV sales surged 8.5 per cent to a record 333.511 units in 2013, led by the smallest of the breed (up 23.3 per cent). Almost 30 per cent of all vehicles purchased in Australia last year were SUVs, with commercial vehicles accounting for another 20 per cent.

One-tonne utes – driven up almost exclusively by the 4x4 variety popular with weekend warriors – also contributed to the rise, pushing light commercial vehicles sales up 3.5 per cent.

Once-dominant passenger cars – sedans, wagons, hatchbacks and sportscars – now hold just 49.9 per cent of the new-vehicle market, and while sales of the popular small cars, sportscars and luxury cars grew last year, sales of light, medium and large cars all slid in 2013. A 15.5 per cent decline in sales of locally built cars contributed to this issue. They now hold a historically low share of the Australian market.

Holden’s Adelaide-built Commodore slipped 9.1 per cent to a record low 27,776 sales, while the Cruze dipped 16.3 per cent to 24,421.

At Toyota, the Camry was down 8.7 per cent and the V6 Aurion down 24.6 per cent.

Sales of Ford’s Falcon, which will get its last facelift this year before heading to oblivion in 2016, was down 24.4 per cent to just 10,610 units, and the despite the general rise in SUV sales, the Territory declined 2.6 per cent. Holden and Ford ute sales were down 25 and 18.4 per cent respectively.

It was not hard to see who picked up these volumes, with imports from Thailand soaring more than 32.9 per cent.

Toyota shifted 214,630 vehicles in the 2013 calendar year, representing a decline of 1.6 per cent and a market share of 18.9 per cent compared with 19.6 per cent the previous year.

However, this was almost double the sales volume and share of its closest rival, Holden, whose sales slipped 2.3 per cent to 112,059 units for a market share of 9.9 per cent, falling below 10 per cent for the first time in memory. Toyota not only pushed Corolla to number one for the first time, but also had two other models in the top 10 – the HiLux and Camry sedan.

The Corolla small car, Camry mid-sizer and HiLux ute all topped their segments, as did the Toyota 86 sportscar, Prado large SUV, LandCruiser upper large SUV and Hiace van and bus. Holden had two representatives among the top 10 sellers – its locally made Commodore and Cruze – despite their sales fall.

After several years of strong growth, Mazda took a breather in third place, accumulating 103,144 sales (down 0.7 per cent), ahead of fast-growing South Korean importer Hyundai whose sales soared 6.0 per cent to a company record 97,006 units – 67,786 of which were passenger cars, placing it second only to Toyota.

Ford, which last year announced its departure from local manufacturing, came in fifth with 87,236 sales (down 3.5 per cent), ahead of Nissan, whose sales dipped 3.8 per cent to 76,733 vehicles.

In 2013, seventh-placed Mitsubishi clawed back sales with additional new models such as the Mirage and Outlander and price discounts on vehicles such as Triton and Lancer, lifting its sales volumes by 21.5 per cent, to 71,528 vehicles.

The hard-charger of recent years, Volkswagen, came to a standstill in 2013 as it battled claims of faults with its top-selling Golf, and instead of its customary double digit growth, the German importer managed a rise of just 0.1 per cent, to 54,892 units.

Rounding out the top 10 were Honda (39,258, up 9.6 per cent) and Subaru (40,200, 11 units ahead of its record-breaking 2012 figure).

Strong performers outside the top ten included the big three German luxury brands Mercedes-Benz (27,547, up 23.0 per cent), BMW (20,522, up 11.5 per cent) and Audi (16,009, up 10.1 per cent, its ninth consecutive record year).

Importers Renault (7016, up 40.0 per cent) and Fiat Chrysler (33,968 units for the stable of brands including Fiat, Chrysler, Jeep and Alfa Romeo, up 43 per cent) enjoyed record sales figures.

Top 10 selling brands for 2013
BrandSalesVariance %
Top 10 selling models for 2013
Toyota Corolla43,498
Toyota HiLux39,931
Hyundai i3030,582
Holden Commodore27,766
Toyota Camry24,860
Mitsubishi Triton24,512
Holden Cruze24,421
Nissan Navara24,108
Ford Ranger21,752

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