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VFACTS: April sales grow as SUVs soar

Little wonder: Small SUVs lifted by 31.2 per cent last month, with key new models such as the Mazda CX-3 (pictured) and Honda's HR-V having a significant impact.

Business sales slow in April but private buyers flock to SUVs and light commercials

VFACTS logo5 May 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

THE Australian motor industry posted another strong sales result last month of 81,656 new registrations, with solid growth for SUVs continuing to make up for a decline in passenger car volume.

The overall April result is 1.2 per cent ahead of the corresponding month last year, and pushes the year-to-date total to 359,250 units – up 3.5 per cent over the first four months of trading in 2014.

Of the monthly total, SUVs grew by 17 per cent across the board to 29,664 units, an increase of 4.9 per cent over April 2014. The market share for the high-riding wagons was 36.3 per cent of all sales.

In contrast, passenger vehicles still make up the majority of all sales at 35,015 units, but the gap between more traditional hatches, sedans and wagons compared to their SUV stablemates is shrinking, with passenger cars making up 42.9 per cent of the market.

Within these segments, the small SUV sector saw massive growth of 31.2 per cent, registering 8221 sales on the back of hugely popular new entrants in the sub-compact market – Honda's Jazz-based HR-V (859) and the Mazda CX-3, whose 1396-strong result made it the 13th best-selling vehicle in Australia in April – its first full month on sale.

While small passenger cars are still the most popular types of vehicles in Australia, the tally of 16,188 is down 13.8 per cent for the month, further highlighting the consumer shift into small and compact SUVs.

Micro cars continued to fall out of favour with buyers with a 27.5 per cent slide, as do large (-17.3 per cent) and upper large sedans (-30.1 per cent).

Light-commercial vehicles grew by 3.4 per cent, and while 4x4 one-tonne utilities continued to be popular with families and businesses with a 6.1 per cent boost to 9444 sales, 4x2 utes dropped by 8.2 per cent to 3035.

Toyota maintained its stranglehold on the top spot last month, experiencing a 2.5 per cent bump in sales to 15,299, with its Corolla small car easily the number one-selling model in April with 3238 sales, 449 units ahead of its HiLux ute stablemate that knocked the Mazda3 back to third with 2365.

Toyota fared well last month, with its RAV4 sneaking into 10th spot, ahead of the Prado (1399) that was equal 11th with the Hyundai ix35 (1389), while the Kluger large SUV also had a strong month to land in 15th (1262).

Mazda had a bumper month, lifting by 15.3 per cent to 8068 units a new April record for the Japanese brand. As well as the successful launch of its CX-3, the refreshed CX-5 continued to perform strongly, and was the top-selling SUV in the country with 1868 sold.

Year to date, Toyota is well ahead of all comers on 64,285, followed by Mazda on 36,348, with Holden in third on 31,853, Hyundai 30,823, Nissan on 21,847 and Ford in sixth on 21,565.

Another big mover last month was Volkswagen, which shifted 4572 units to jump from eighth spot in March to sixth, thanks to strong Golf sales – 1679 to be the eighth best-seller – and a resurgent Polo that grew its owner base by 85.5 per cent to 829.

Fellow German car-maker Mercedes-Benz stepped up its game in April, with a 17.3 per cent leap to bring it back into the top ten, knocking Honda out in the process.

Benz's growth came in a number of segments, notably the mid-size premium sector, with the C-Class lifting by 144 per cent to easily win the month, while the smaller CLA-Class sedan was the second-best seller, beating the BMW 3 Series by just one unit.

Taking its commercial vehicle sales out of the mix, Mercedes shifted 2149 units to beat out Audi, which grew by 13 per cent to 1714, and BMW, which is down by seven per cent to 1554. Year-to-date, Benz is ahead of its two main rivals by 2391 units in total.

The other two local manufacturers did not fare well last month, with Holden retaining fourth spot with an 11.7 per cent dip to sit behind Hyundai in third (-5.5 per cent), while Ford dropped by 19.9 per cent.

The Commodore was the best-selling locally built car in sixth spot with 2043, followed by the Toyota Camry (1141), Holden's Cruze (1031) Ford's Territory (802) and the final Ford Falcon that sold just 446 units.

Meanwhile, Nissan kept Mitsubishi at bay with 4188 sales compared with the latter's 4077 a figure that is down by 6.5 per cent. Subaru's 5.1 per cent increase was thanks largely to the resurgence in popularity for its new-gen – and re-priced – Liberty and Outback twins up 109.9 and 163 per cent respectively over last April.

FCAI chief executive Tony Weber said business purchases were down last month as private sales continued to grow.

“Overall, new car sales to private buyers increased 8.8 per cent and new car sales to government increased 1.7 per cent,” he said. “Business purchases were down, with the business community purchasing 5.6 per cent less vehicles than in April 2014.” Top selling brands April 2015
Brand Sales Variance %
Toyota 15,299 +2.5
Mazda 8068 +15.3
Hyundai 7210 -5.5
Holden 7072 -11.7
Ford 5163 -19.9
Volkswagen 4572 +13.8
Nissan 4188 +0.7
Mitsubishi 4077 -6.5
Subaru 3052 +5.1
Mercedes-Benz 2654 +17.3
Top selling models April 2015
Model Sales
Toyota Corolla 3238
Toyota HiLux 2789
Mazda3 2365
Hyundai i30 2298
Ford Ranger 2200
Holden Commodore 2043
Mazda CX-5 1868
Volkswagen Golf 1697
Mitsubishi Triton 1538
Toyota RAV4 1399

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