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VFACTS: Ford picks up the sales pace

Mid-size mover: Sales of Ford's Mondeo jumped 686 per cent last month, with 409 units shifted.

Ford claws back sales, while Mazda, BMW record strong February results

3 Mar 2016

FORD'S turnaround in Australia is gaining momentum with the Blue Oval recording a big leap in sales in February, according to official VFACTS figures released today.

After a consistent sales slide in recent years and gradual recovery in recent months, Ford last month picked up the pace with a 32 per cent lift in sales compared with February 2014, to 6656 units, thanks to a top-five placing for the Ranger and a massive 686 per cent increase for Mondeo, to 409 units – the model's best result since July 2013.

Ford also recorded big gains for the EcoSport and Kuga SUVs, while the Everest grabbed 377 new buyers, outpacing the Colorado 7 and Toyota's Fortuner but just shy of the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport's 396 units.

It was the fourth month in a row that Ford sales have improved on the previous year, backing up Ford Australia president Graeme Whickman’s statement in December that Ford had turned the corner.

The overall market grew by 6.7 per cent with 96,443 new-car sales last month, while year-to-date sales were ahead of the first two months of last year by 4.8 per cent.

The gap between SUVs and passenger cars has shrunk even further, with high-riding wagons making up 38.2 per cent (or 36,865 units) of the total market, against 41 per cent (or 39,558 units) for sedans and hatches – a difference of just 2693 vehicles.

Almost every passenger car category lost ground last month, with only people-movers and sportscars in positive territory, the latter getting a boost from Mazda's MX-5 and Ford's sold-out Mustang, which topped the segment on 356 sales.

While some industry observers had predicted that SUV sales would overtake passenger cars in the coming years, it now looks like it could happen during 2016.

Light-commercial vehicles also lifted by 12.8 per cent last month on the back of solid gains in the 4x2 (+13.6 per cent) and 4x4 pick-up segments (+12 per cent) as well as mid-size vans (+26.6 per cent).

All of the mainstream utes recorded gains in the 4x4 sector, with the Ranger (+37.7 per cent) and Toyota's HiLux (+14.1 per cent) the best performers, although the new HiLux outpaced the Australian-engineered Ranger, landing in third spot overall with 3261 sales ahead of the fourth-placed Ford on 2655.

Ford might have started its climb back up the sales charts, but it was outpaced by perennial number one, Toyota, which remained steady on 16,191, while Mazda recorded its best February result with 10,205, a boost of 12.7 per cent.

The Japanese car-maker's Mazda3 took out second place, beaten to the top spot by the rival Toyota Corolla by 101 units, while the Hyundai i30 rounded out the top five on 2461 sales.

Hyundai dropped 3.8 per cent, despite strong sales for the i30, Accent and the Tucson mid-size SUV. The latter was the ninth best-selling vehicle in the country last month, while Holden held onto fourth place despite a 6.0 per cent dip on the back of drops for most of its models, except the Captiva 7 (+9.6 per cent), Colorado 7 (+31.8 per cent) and Trax crossover (+35 per cent).

Its Australian-built Commodore climbed back into the top 10 with 2331 sales, ahead of the Mitsubishi Triton which also re-entered the top-sellers list. Mitsubishi sales grew by 7.0 per cent in February, driven by the popularity of its rugged new Pajero Sport, renewed interest in its mid-size Outlander SUV and strong sales of its long-in-the-tooth Lancer.

Nissan and Volkswagen held steady last month, but Japanese car-makers Subaru and Honda continued their recent growth with lifts of 9.8 and 13 per cent respectively, due largely to strong SUV sales for both brands.

Honda will be hoping its nee-generation Civic strikes a chord with buyers, after registering just 115 cars last month, its worst result since January 2006 when it shifted 72 units.

Outside the top 10, Kia fared well, buoyed by interest in the Cerato, Carnival and Sportage ranges, while there was no good news for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Australia, with the Fiat Professional commercial vehicle arm the only brand to record sales gains last month.

One-time top-10 contender Jeep continued its slide, down 42 per cent over the corresponding month last year, while Alfa Romeo was hit by the discontinuation of the MiTo, dropping 53 per cent to 85 units for its Giulietta and 4C and Fiat lost 35.7 per cent with its reduced line-up.

Chrysler sold 51 300s, a 34.6 per cent dip, and Dodge dropped to just 56 sales of its Journey.

The group's entrants in the hot-selling small-SUV segment have so far failed to fire, with the Fiat 500X finding 40 homes last month, while the related Jeep Renegade attracted 87 sales despite a recent price cut.

Mitsubishi's ageing ASX led the competitive segment, ahead of the popular Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V and Nissan's Qashqai.

Mazda's CX-5 was once again the top-selling SUV in Australia with 2156 sales, while Toyota's Prado grabbed top spot in the large SUV segment, with 1295.

Things continue to heat up at the premium end of the market, with BMW recording a huge 51.7 per cent increase in sales thanks to 403 sales of the new 3 Series, enough to leap-frog its Mercedes-Benz C-Class rival that recorded 344.

BMW's refreshed model line-up is paying dividends, with the new 1 Series, X1 and 7 Series all helping lift the overall result, while sister brand Mini also had a solid February with 310 sales. Audi recorded double-digit growth but remains behind BMW in year to date sales by 674 units.

Benz was once again the number-one selling premium brand by just 118 units over BMW, with Mercedes’ GLC SUV proving to be something of an instant hit, recording 536 sales last month to become the best seller in the segment ahead of the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Land Rover Discovery Sport.

Elsewhere, Lexus recorded its best February sales since launching in Australia on the back of strong IS, NX and RX sales, while Porsche and Volvo also recorded gains of 144 and 59 per cent respectively.

Jaguar and Land Rover's new model roll-out pushed both brands ahead of last February, with the SUV brand capturing 1374 sales (+64.2 per cent) next to Jaguar's more modest haul of 242 (+191.6).

Top 10 selling brands February 2016
Brand Sales % Variation
Toyota 16,191 -0.3
Mazda 10,205 12.7
Hyundai 7701 -3.8
Holden 7340 -6.0
Mitsubishi 6681 7.0
Ford 6656 35.2
Nissan 5989 0.1
Volkswagen 4922 0.7
Subaru 3538 9.8
Honda 3279 13.0
Top 10 selling models February 2016
Model Sales
Toyota Corolla 3455
Mazda3 3354
Toyota HiLux 3261
Ford Ranger 2655
Hyundai i30 2461
Holden Commodore 2331
Mitsubishi Triton 2165
Mazda CX-5 2156
Hyundai Tucson 1849
Volkswagen Golf 1645

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