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VFACTS: Holden gets set to fight back

Almost there: Holden’s facelifted VF Series II Commodore is just weeks away from its showroom debut – an event that could revive the sales fortunes of the famous Australian brand.

Holden slips in sales race, but greatest Commodore ever built is ready to fire


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3 Sep 2015

HOLDEN is loading the sales cannon with its new VF Series II Commodore in readiness to pull the trigger in the first week of October, thus launching a last-quarter fightback to regain the ascendancy against rising importers such as Hyundai.

The launch is set to start with the unveiling of the new locally made range on Sunday week, September 13, and continue with a major marketing blitz through October.

Holden last month slipped to fourth position on the Australian new-car sales year-to-date rankings for the first time since the brand was launched in 1948, with Hyundai edging ahead, 68,115 to 67,502, according to official VFACTS sales figures released today.

But with two key Hyundai models, the ix35 compact SUV and i20 light hatchback, in run-out and with Holden set to launch the final all-Australian Commodore, Caprice and Ute range, the scene is set for an intriguing battle over the last three months of the year.

Hyundai Motor Company Australia – whose sales and marking operations are headed by former Holden sales and marketing executive director John Elsworth – is playing down the rivalry, saying only that it is focussed on its own sales targets.

But the South Korean importer has been nailing those targets with aplomb, enjoying record August sales of 9505 units last month, up 10.5 per cent on the same month last year.

The result placed Hyundai in second position for the month, trailing only perennial market leader Toyota which sold 14,505 vehicles, down 7.2 per cent.

The overall market was buoyant, up 2.9 per cent on August last year to 90,705 vehicles. This represented the second-best August on record, beaten only by 2013’s 93,336 units.

Mazda had its second-best August, shifting 9166 units – up a whopping 21.7 per cent on the corresponding period last year but just behind its 2013 result.

The sales tally put Mazda behind Hyundai and into third place for the month, but it still sits comfortably in second place for the year to date.

Holden registered another decline, down 8.9 per cent to 7870 sales, despite handy August sales of its run-out Commodore (2144).

This placed the Aussie large car in third place behind Toyota’s Corolla (3050) and the Mazda3 (2673).

Holden’s YTD market share has dipped below 9.0 per cent for the first time, compared with 10.1 per cent at the same time in 2014.

But the local manufacturer has one last true-blue trump card left in its hand before Australian production ends in 2018 – the facelifted VF Series II Commodore that promises to include the fastest Holden model ever built.

The headline act in The General’s last-hurrah blitz will be the new Corvette-powered Commodore SS-V Redline – although the name might change by the time the car reaches showrooms in less than a month.

Packing more than 300kW from its 6.2-litre LS3 V8, the sports flagship will also provide the basis for the export version for North America, the Chevrolet SS.

Another company that is planning a last-quarter rev up is Toyota with its top-selling HiLux ute.

Currently in run-out, the HiLux last month slipped down the rankings, to 10th position with 1956 units, behind recently upgraded rivals the Ford Ranger (2096) and Mitsubishi Triton (1991).

Like Holden with its Commodore, Toyota can look forward to bigger things from its all-new HiLux that is also set to be rolled out in the last quarter for a big finish to the year.

German motor companies again had a field day in August, with Volkswagen sales zooming up 17.9 per cent to 4794 units. This was a record August tally for VW, helping it to leapfrog Nissan into seventh place for the month.

Mercedes-Benz continued on its merry way, boosting sales by 25.3 per cent to 2956 vehicles for the month, while rivals BMW (2202, +9.7%), Audi (1901, +20.5%) and Porsche (400, +63.3%) shared the joy.

While Nissan sales fell 7.7 per cent, to 4731 units, fellow Japanese importers Subaru (3361, +15.9%) and Honda (3210, +16.3%), pushed ahead.

SUV sales again lead the way in the August market, with sales of the popular family wagons up 19.4 per cent. The smaller variety were particularly in favour, with sales up a whopping 51.3 per cent.

By contract, passenger car volumes fell 4.6 per cent and light-commercial sales were down 6.1 per cent.

Top 10 selling brands August 2015
BrandSales% Variation
Top 10 selling models August 2015
Toyota Corolla3050
Holden Commodore2144
Hyundai i302098
Ford Ranger2096
Toyota Camry2095
Mitsubishi Triton1991
Mazda CX-51980
Hyundai ix351967
Toyota Hi-Lux1956

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