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VFACTS: Car industry takes big hit in 2019

On top: Toyota Australia president Matthew Callachor with the top-selling HiLux and third best-selling Corolla.

Hefty 7.8 per cent new-car sales downturn reflects ‘tough year’ for Australia: FCAI

6 Jan 2020

THE Australian new-vehicle market has recorded its lowest annual sales result in eight years, falling 7.8 per cent in 2019 over the previous year to finish below 1.1 million units as the motor industry points to tough economic conditions capped off by the worsening bushfire crisis in the final weeks of trading.


Official VFACTS figures released today show that 1,062,867 new vehicles were recorded as sold last year after December marked the 21st consecutive monthly decline, down 3.8 per cent on December 2018 to 84,239 units and the lowest end-of-year run since the GFC-hit 2008.


Sales last year fell in every state and territory, and across every major vehicle segment, with every leading mainstream brand except Kia suffering a downturn and several with double-digit declines.


The South Korean brand turned in a record 61,503 sales (+4.6%) to broach the 60K marker for the first time and secure sixth position overall with an ever-strengthening 5.8 per cent share of the total market.


Toyota sales fell 5.2 per cent but the Japanese juggernaut remained the dominant force with 205,766 sales – for an escalating 19.4 per cent share – while one-time leader Holden, at the other end of the scale, turned in its worst result in the company’s history, clinging on to 10th position with 43,176 sales (-28.9%) and a record-low 4.1 per cent share.


With 47,649 sales – some 4500 more than Holden managed across its entire range – Toyota’s HiLux also retained its position as Australia’s top-selling model for the fourth year in a row.


In releasing the results, Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) chief executive Tony Weber offered the industry’s condolences to those affected by bushfires over the past weeks and said “extreme environmental factors” were part of the mix when assessing the results.


“Regarding the actual new-vehicle sales results, 2019 reflects a tough year for the Australian economy, with challenges including tightening of lending, movements in exchange rates, slow wages growth and, of course, the extreme environmental factors our country is experiencing,” Mr Weber said.


Worryingly for the industry, the downturn in purchases of new vehicles by businesses ran deeper than every other key buyer group, falling 8.7 per cent as sales to private individuals, government and rental firms dropped 7.6, 5.9 and 4.5 per cent respectively.


This does not include the heavy commercial sector, which fell 8.3 per cent to 37,969 units, while among the high-volume categories, light commercials (225,635) tumbled 5.2 per cent, passenger cars (315,875) continued on a sharp downward trajectory with a 16.5 per cent dive, and the drop in SUV sales (to 483,388 units) was limited to 2.4 per cent after a positive return last month.


SUV sales now account for 45.5 per cent of the total market, strengthening the segment’s hold on the market compared to passengers cars (29.7%), LCVs (21.2%) and HCs (3.6%).


As Toyota ended the year on a high note with a strong December result (+8.2%), second-placed Mazda was down 24.9 per cent for the month and fell short of its targeted 100,000 sales across the full year with 97,619 units (-12.3%).


Hyundai held third position with 86,104 sales (-8.6%), ahead of Mitsubishi on 83,250 (-2.0%) and, some 20,000 units behind and a long way out of touch, Ford on 63,303 (-8.4%).


Kia’s 61,503 sales provides a platform for it to launch an attack on the top five this year, while other leading brands work on a recovery after significant declines in 2019.


These include Nissan, which finished in seventh with 50,575 sales (-12.3%), followed by Volkswagen on 49,928 (-11.8%), Honda on 43,868 (-14.9%) and, rounding out the top 10 after slipping from sixth position a year earlier, Holden.


Subaru finished the year in 11th place on 40,007 (-20.0%), while Mercedes-Benz was next with 38,684 sales when cars and light-commercial vehicles are combined (-2.2%).


For Mercedes-Benz Cars, its 31,985 units (-0.7%) maintained the three-pointed star brand’s undisputed leadership position among the luxury brands and saw it withstand the downturn experienced across the industry, while BMW was similarly steady with 23,307 units – up 1.1 per cent on 2018.


Audi finished third with 15,708 units, representing a 19.1 per cent year-on-year decline, while Lexus had a stellar year with a record 9612 sales, up 9.0 per cent on the previous year and 585 units ahead of the previous record set in 2016.


Volvo also maintained its impressive run, climbing 16.2 per cent to end the year with 7779 sales.


Other car companies to turn in positive results include Chinese brands MG, LDV, Haval and Great Wall. MG was the standout with 8326 sales (+176.9%), LDV was solid on 6480 units (+6.9%), and Haval/Great Wall both made major gains of 169.5 and 78.7 per cent respectively, albeit on lower volumes (1706/1401).


Skoda cracked the 7000 mark by a solitary unit, representing 20.6 per cent growth for the Czech brand, while Ateco Group’s local Ram pick-up truck operation netted 2868 registrations – an increase of almost 300 per cent with the 1500 model joining the assembly line.


Toyota’s win with HiLux (47,649) in the battle for bragging rights as Australia’s Top Model came despite negative returns in both the 4x2 and 4x4 segments, while Ford, which was again second with Ranger (40,960), could take some comfort in its Australian-developed ute’s positive return (and outgunning of HiLux) in the high-volume 4x4 class.


Corolla was the third best-selling model last year with 30,468 units, followed by the Hyundai i30 (28,378) and Mitsubishi Triton (25,819).


Top 10 selling brands 2019

Ranking Brand Sales Share%  Variance%
1 Toyota 205,766 19.4 -5.2
2 Mazda 97,619 9.2 -12.3
3 Hyundai 86,104 8.1 -8.6
4 Mitsubishi 83,250 7.8 -2.0
5 Ford 63,303 6.0 -8.4
6 Kia 61,503 5.8 +4.6
7 Nissan 50,575 4.8 -12.3
8 Volkswagen 49,928 4.7 -11.8
9 Honda 43,868 4.1 -14.9
10 Holden 43,176 4.1 -28.9

Top 10 selling models 2019

Ranking Make/Model Sales Variance%
1 Toyota HiLux 47,649 -7.8
2 Ford Ranger 40,960 -2.8
3 Toyota Corolla 30,468 -13.7
4 Hyundai i30 28,378 +0.7
5 Mitsubishi Triton 25,819 +3.7
6 Mazda CX-5 25,539 -2.4
7 Mazda3 24,939 -19.7
8 Toyota RAV4 24,260 +9.5
9 Nissan X-Trail 21,757 +16.8
10 Mitsubishi ASX 20,806 +9.3

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