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VFACTS: July sales stall as Toyota hangs onto title

Small battles: Toyota’s Corolla (below) has nudged out the Mazda3 (left) to claim the title as Australia’s best-selling car over the first seven months of this year.

Market treads water as buyers continue their shift from sedans to SUVs

VFACTS logo5 Aug 2014

By BARRY PARK

AUSTRALIA’S new-car market continues to tread water as the rush to buy vehicles before the end of the financial year collides with the doldrums of July.

VFACTS data released today shows that with 89,867 new registrations recorded last month, the market was only 0.4 per cent down compared with July 2013, but over the first seven months it remains 2.1 per cent behind last year’s record-setting pace.

In terms of outright sales, Japanese brand Toyota continued its market dominance in July, snaring 16,486 sales for the month and claiming the top individual model with 3800 sales for the Corolla small car.

“New-vehicle sales remain close to record levels, which is extremely encouraging for the industry’s prospects in the second half of the year,” said Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb.

“All the signs are that the economy and consumer confidence are solid with no indications of a major upswing or a downturn of any significance.”

However, fierce competition in the marketplace saw Toyota’s share contract slightly to 18.3 per cent for the month as it sold 4.8 per cent fewer cars, with its year-to-date share pegged at just 18.1 per cent, 0.5 per cent down on last year’s numbers for the same seven-month period.

Helping to bolster Toyota’s softer result were the HiLux trade ute (3140) and the locally made Camry (1805) mid-size sedan, which both featured in the industry’s top 10 sellers for the month.

Capitalising on Toyota’s loss was second-placed Holden, whose locally built Commodore large car is still pulling big numbers despite the pressures on Australia’s flailing car-making industry.

Both Commodore and the locally made Cruze featured in the top 10 best sellers for July, with the Commodore recording 2469 sales (up 43 per cent) and the Cruze managing 1747 units, albeit down 25.5 per cent on July 2013.

It was not all good news for the local car-makers. Ford’s Falcon continues to plumb its depths, recording its second-worst sales figure on record, falling to just 498 in July.

Sales of the large car are expected to weaken further as the car-maker builds up to the release of its recently revealed replacement for the FG Falcon that will carry the brand to the end of Australian manufacturing in late 2016.

In contrast, the locally made Territory continues to attract significant buyers, shifting 886 units in July – though sales slipped 8.3 per cent compared with the same month last year, and are down almost 30 per cent compared with the first seven months of last year.

It, too, will have to carry on in the shadow of a mildly facelifted version also due at the end of this year.

Toyota’s locally made Aurion large car, though, is now selling in smaller numbers than the Falcon, pegging only 468 buyers for the month.

Third-placed Mazda’s grip on the best-selling car crown has loosened, with year-to-date numbers for Toyota’s Corolla hitting 25,996 to overtake the Mazda3’s 25,945 sales for the first time this year. The Mazda3 placed second in the July sales race with 3421 units.

Australia’s love affair with high-riding SUVs continues to grow, with the segment showing big jumps – overall it is up 12.7 per cent compared with July last year – as buyers turn away from traditional passenger cars.

The results are at opposite ends of the showroom, though, with compact SUVs such as the Mitsubishi ASX and Hyundai ix35 pushing numbers up by 16.9 per cent, and large SUVs including Toyota’s recently renewed Kluger and Jeep’s strong-selling Grand Cherokee all dominating.

The SUV segment’s success comes as the cost of the small-car market, with micro cars such as the Holden Barina Spark, Mitsubishi Mirage and Nissan Micra all suffering sales slumps to be 31.7 per cent down year-to-date, and 23.6 per cent down month-on-month.

Small cars such as the Corolla, Mazda3, Hyundai’s i30 and the Holden Cruze all competed for fewer buyers, with the segment down 9.9 per cent month-on-month, as did the large-car segment, with the likes of the Falcon, Aurion and Commodore all softening to bring sales down 15.5 per cent compared with the same month last year, but still 11.1 per cent ahead of last year’s cumulative tally.

Cheaper luxury cars are driving competition in that sector, with the part of the market hunted by the likes of Audi’s A3, Mercedes-Benz’s A-Class and BMW’s 1 Series up 34.2 per cent on last year’s tally so far. July’s sales jumped 54.9 per cent compared with the same month last year.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class sales hit the brakes ahead of the imminent arrival of a new-generation model later this year, while sales of the Volvo S60 appear to be following the fortunes of the car-maker’s V8 Supercars team, slowing for the month but still well ahead of the game on the first seven months of last year.

The big end of town is also doing well, with the likes of Mercedes-Benz’s new S-Class limousine and Maserati’s Quattroporte sedan all posting healthy sales to plump the upper-large segment costing more than $100,000 up by 8.9 per cent for the month, or 12.9 per cent year-on-year.

BMW’s recently introduced 4 Series Coupe range has helped build numbers in the sportscar segment costing more than $80,000, helped by stronger sales of Porsche’s more affordable Boxster soft-top and tin-lidded Cayman models.

In a surprise, Lexus posted a single sale for its $700,000 LFA supercar.

However, the sale was attributed to a Sydney dealer registering a vehicle, and not another LFA joining the 10 versions of the car already bought here.

Trade ute sales are also still strong, with the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Holden Colorado all featuring high up in the month’s numbers.

The light commercial sector in which they compete posted a softer result for July, down 5.1 per cent on the same month last year, with only rental companies showing enough interest to increase sales in the segment.

In terms of buyer split, government and rental car companies are the only groups to increase sales in the passenger car segment, with private and business customers all skewing towards SUVs.

Looking at fuel types, more business and government buyers are adding hybrid cars to their fleets, with more private buyers also opting to jump behind the wheel of a hybrid SUV, the VFACTS numbers show.

The figures show that 14 hybrid passenger cars were sold for every LPG-fuelled car rolling into private buyers’ driveways during July, with the count falling to six hybrids for every LPG model sold to government and business buyers.

Top 10 selling brands July 2014
BrandSalesVariation %
1. Toyota16,486-5.4%
2. Holden8990-11.3%
3. Hyundai8351+4.3%
4. Mazda8048-5.6%
5. Ford6210-7.8%
6. Nissan5451+7.4%
7. Mitsubishi5042-10.8%
8. Volkswagen3991+7.7%
9. Subaru3121+0.6%
10. Honda2708-1.4%
Top 10 selling models July 2014
ModelSales
1. Toyota Corolla3800
2. Mazda33421
3. Toyota HiLux3140
4. Holden Commodore2469
5. Hyundai i302434
6. Ford Ranger2203
7. Mazda CX-51895
8. Toyota Camry1805
9. Holden Cruze1747
10. Holden Colorado1443

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