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News - VFACTS - Sales 2003

VFACTS: 2003 a sales record smasher

Leader again: The Toyota range was the most popular seller in Australia in 2003.

New vehicle sales top 900,000 and there’s no sign of any let-up in 2004

VFACTS logo8 Jan 2004

AUSTRALIANS bought more new motor vehicles in 2003 than ever before, according to sales figures released yesterday.

Industry statistician VFACTS says a total of 909,811 cars, trucks and buses were sold last year, easily surpassing the previous record set in 2002 by 85,502 or 10.4 per cent. Such was the strength of the year that sales records were set in every month.

It was the first time Australian automotive sales have ever passed the 900,000 mark in a calendar year.

“The automotive industry has clearly shifted into a higher gear and we expect it to remain there for the immediately foreseeable future,” said the chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Peter Sturrock.

The FCAI is predicting vehicle sales will once again reach 900,000 in 2004.

“Given the current positive economic indicators and the high level of competitive activity between the brands, sales this year should reach a level close to those of 2003,” said Mr Sturrock.

It was a good year for the four local manufacturers with sales of Australian-made cars increasing by 10.9 per cent to 276,314 – more than the average rise for the industry.

Toyota replaced Holden as the top selling automotive brand in 2003 with 186,370 deliveries – representing 20.5 per cent of the market.

Toyota’s success was widespread – its models winning nine out of the 15 VFACTS segments in which it competes.

In addition, Toyota finished second in the Compact SUV segment and third in the 4x2 Pickup (utility) segment, behind the two passenger based utes.

Locally-built Camry sales grew by 24.5 per cent on 2002 while Echo sales almost doubled, increasing by 92.8 per cent thanks to very sharp pricing.

“Toyota’s strength lies in its diversity – we service all major areas of the vehicle market with competitive product,” said Toyota Australia’s executive chairman John Conomos.

Holden was next with 175,412 deliveries (19.3 per cent), ahead of Ford with 126,581 (13.9 per cent) and Mitsubishi on 72,789 (8.0 per cent).

While the Commodore was Australia’s best selling model for the eighth successive year, Holden was the only member of the big four not to sell more cars than 2002, when it recorded 178,392 sales.

On the bright side, Holden was the top selling light commercial vehicle for five of the last six months of 2003, encroaching on a traditional Toyota strength.

The top-selling fully imported brand was Nissan (58,568) while Mazda was sixth (53,217) – the first time it has sold more than 50,000 vehicles in a year.

Light trucks was the strongest performing segment of the market in 2003 with a sales increase of 17.4 per cent – an indicator of the buoyant economy.

The passenger vehicle segment increased by 8.9 per cent – but within the segment there were some significant trends.

The medium car category grew by 21.1 per cent while the Light car sales rose by 15.8 per cent.

“The rise in the medium car segment was driven by new model activity but also indicates that some buyers moved out of larger cars,” said Mr Sturrock.

“The light car segment gained buyers at the expense of both the small car category and the second-hand market.” Sales of the luxury and prestige car categories rose by 13.6 per cent and 17.5 per cent respectively.

The 2003 VFACTS results separate Sports Utility Vehicles from light trucks for the first time.

Sales of the SUV segment rose by 9.1 per cent overall but within that the SUV luxury category boomed by 39.6 per cent.

“Nothing could be a more obvious indicator of the economy’s underlying strength and the level of business confidence than the sales of luxury cars and SUVs in 2003,” said Mr Sturrock.

“Sales of higher priced models may also have been boosted by property owners who find themselves asset rich as a result of the real estate boom,” he said.

Segment by segment

LIGHT CARS WITH cut-throat pricing courtesy of a deal with headquarters in Japan, Toyota was able to blitz the light car segment with Echo, which grew its sales by 92.8 per cent compared to 2002, to finish at 16,986 sales. Victory won, Toyota raised the Echo retail price a few hundred dollars in January.

Second home was the Hyundai Getz which finished the year strongly with 1060 sales, for 11,141 overall. The premium light Honda Jazz was third with an excellent 8501 sales, with Kia Rio rounding out the top four with 7221 sales.

The Mitsubishi Mirage, with 6661 sales, completed its final full year of sale ahead of the arrival of the Colt.

The big loser was the Holden Barina on 4764 sales, a slump of 47 per cent compared to 2002. No wonder Holden chopped $1000 off the price early in the new year.

Overall, the light car segment was up 10,481 sales or 15.8 per cent.

SMALL CARS ANOTHER triumph for Toyota courtesy of the Corolla with 36,128 sales, a small rise on 2002’s excellent figure although its percentage share actually slipped.

It finished almost 10,000 sales ahead of the Holden Astra, which slipped back slightly in 2003 compared to its 2002 performance (26,139 versus 27,388) despite the addition of more models to the range.

Behind them came the scrapping Mazda 323, Nissan Pulsar and Mitsubishi Lancer, with the Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra the last of the contenders into five figures.

Highest profile struggler was the Honda Civic, which slipped more than 2000 units, or 37 per cent.

Holden, Volkswagen and Mazda face a big challenge to maintain share in 2004 as they introduce new and more expensive contenders above the $19,990 hot-spot.

Overall, the small car segment was up 10,708 sales or 6.5 per cent.

MEDIUM CARS TOYOTA’s Camry four-cylinder was absolutely dominant here with a 53.6 per cent share of the segment, or 25,261 sales.

Only the Mazda6 (12,708) and the Subaru Liberty (5011) also troubled the scorers in any serious way. Holden’s Vectra sales slumped courtesy of a price rise and a re-distribution of the car into different VFACTS categories.

Overall, this segment showed a growth of 8213 sales or 21.1 per cent.

LARGE CARS THIS remains Commodore country, although sales were down a tad against much stronger opposition from the BA Ford Falcon. In the end 86,553 Commodore sedans and station wagons were sold compared to 73,220 Falcons.

That compares to the 2002 figures of 88,478 versus 54,629.

The Falcon utility actually reversed that result, triumphing over the Commodore. Both makes increased sales in 2003 but the worrying trend for Ford is that the Holden is now selling slightly better because of the addition of the One-Tonner and crew-cab Crewman.

Of the rest, Mitsubishi Magna/Verada V6 remained virtually lineball onsales compared to 2002, which meant it dropped percentage share, while the Camry V6 was up slightly more than the Avalon was down.

Overall, the large segment was up 15,156 sales or 8.1 per cent.

PEOPLE-MOVERS TOYOTA territory this, albeit crumbs with only 11,852 sales for the entire segment for the year. Tarago (2736) led the way from the Kia Carnival (2634) and the Holden Zafira (1494). Toyota’s Avensis (1253) and the Chrysler Voyager (1127) completed the top five.

The segment was a loser in 2003, dropping 939 sales or 7.3 per cent.

SPORTS CARS A BIG loser in terms of volume in 2003, down 3813 sales or 27.3 per cent, much of which can be attributed to the expected downturn in sales for Monaro (2889 versus 2002’s 4247) and the disappearance of the much-loved Nissan 200SX (worth more than 1500 sales).

Monaro still kept the top spot ahead of the Astra convertible (2470), which grew sales as the turbo came onstream, while the Honda Integra, Peugeot 206CC and Mazda MX-5 all sold less than in 2002 but managed to grab slots in the top five.

PRESTIGE CARS TALK about double trouble for the opposition! Honda’s much-questioned decision to launch two different Accord sedans into the market paid off handsomely with 6204 sales in 2003, compared to 1095 for the old car in 2002.

The Hondas knocked the Holden Statesman out of top spot with a rush in the second half of the year, the luxury long-wheelbase car basically holding station with 2002 in sales terms at 4363.

Rounding out the top five were the Ford Fairlane (2389), Mini Cooper (1633) and Holden Vectra CDX (1390).

Overall, the prestige segment was up 4337 sales or 17.5 per cent.

LUXURY CARS THIS category is absolutely dominated by BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The 3 Series just beat out the C-class (5164 to 4708), reversing 2002’s even tighter result.

Then came the Benz E-class (2787), which more than doubled sales compared to 2002, and the CLK coupe, which nearly tripled sales (1952). Rounding out the Germanic domination was the 3 Series coupe on 1717.

First interloper was the Nissan 350Z (why isn’t this car in sports?), while traditional high-flier BMW 5 Series dropped a little in 2003 in its changeover to the new E60. To give you an idea of the health of the top end of the market, Benz managed to sell 367 of its swoopy SLs in 2003.

Overall, the luxury segment was up 4108 sales or 13.6 per cent.

COMPACT SUV NISSAN’S X-trail completed a rocket ride to the top of the sales charts in 2003. Launched in late 2001, it was third on the charts in 2002 with 9866 sales and then leap-frogged its rivals with 12,675 sales (a 28.5 per cent rise) to top spot.

It finished ahead of the Toyota RAV4 (12,026), the improving Subaru Forester (11,780) and last year’s champion, the Honda CR-V (9736), which recorded a 21.7 per cent drop from the 2002 total of 12,449 sales.

The predominantly V6 Mazda Tribute sold 6394 examples to round out the top five, ahead of the Subaru Outback and Holden’s big hit, the Cruze, which increased its sales 52.2 per cent in 2003 to finish with 3371.

Overall, the segment was up 1827 sales, or 2.5 per cent.

MEDIUM SUV TOYOTA Prado territory this, the second generation wagon nearly doubling sales (14,639 to 7972) compared to the old car.

Mitsubishi Pajero did not quite hold its own against the onslaught (7580 to 8490), while the redoubtable Nissan Pathfinder chugged on to account for 2505 sales, down just slightly on 2002.

Making it into the chart in December was the Commodore-wagon based Holden Adventra, which sold 61 examples, split between retails and dealer demonstrator stock.

But if it wasn’t for the Prado and solid first-up sales by the Toyota Kluger cross-over and the Kia Sorento, the category would not have climbed in 2003. As it was, there was a significant 14.9 per cent rise courtesy of 4951 more sales than 2002.

LARGE SUV JUST three contestants here with the Toyota LandCruiser (14,425) and Nissan Patrol (9453) taking more than 90 per cent of sales, leaving the crumbs for the Ford Explorer (1467).

Both LandCruiser and Patrol sales climbed in 2003 while the segment itself was up 2354 sales or 10.2 per cent.

LUXURY SUV ANOTHER victory for BMW with the soon to be updated X5 scoring 2506 sales and 21 per cent of this new segment.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee (1778), Lexus RX330 (1671) and Mercedes-Benz M-class (1628) were the only other contenders to score sales in four figures.

The Benz dropped almost 1000 units in 2003 as more competitors moved in, with the Honda MDX (949), Volvo XC90 (622), Porsche Cayenne (442) and Volkswagen Touareg (311) all getting on the board.

Overall, the luxury segment rose 39.6 per cent, or 3382 sales.

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