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VFACTS: March sales hold steady

Popular pick: The HiLux was the biggest-selling light-commercial pick-up in Australia last month with 3897 units shifted, but Toyota took a 6.5 per cent hit.

Big month for Hyundai but overall sales take a slight dip over March 2015

5 Apr 2016

AUSTRALIA’S new-vehicle sales were a mixed bag last month with some of the major players such as Hyundai and Ford experiencing significant gains against notable downturns for Toyota and Nissan, according to official VFACTS figures released today.

In March, Australian buyers snapped up 104,512 new vehicles, a 0.5 per cent drop over March 2015, however the overall market remains 2.8 per cent ahead of the first quarter last year.

Private sales took a hit in the passenger and light-commercial segment, but business purchases lifted after the January slowdown, with business SUV sales rising 15 per cent and LCVs lifting by 28 per cent.

Just 10,000 units separate passenger car and SUV sales in Australia after the first quarter, with SUVs making up 38 per cent of the overall market against 41.5 per cent for the passenger segment.

The trend was particularly striking last month, with SUV sales up 8.3 per cent while passenger car sales were down 9.4 per cent. LCVs bounced back with 7.1 per cent growth in March.

South Korean car-maker Hyundai had a successful month, grabbing 9700 sales to land in third, representing an 11.4 per cent jump over March 2015.

The gain was due to exceptionally high sales of the i30, which was the most popular car in Australia last month on 4198 sales, and the Accent, which snuck into the top 10 with 2034 sales.

Both models benefited from driveaway retail campaigns last month – $19,990 for the base i30 Active with free auto and $14,990 for the Accent Active – while Accent sales growth was also boosted by the fact that all remaining i20 stock has been sold, leaving it as the only light-car offering in Hyundai’s line-up.

Toyota retained its sales crown for another month with 17,849 units, but this represented a 6.5 per cent slide over last March.

Most of the market leader’s models were in negative territory last month except the Kluger SUV (+17.8 per cent), the all-new Prius (+52.6 per cent) and the HiLux that was the second most popular vehicle in the country with 3897 units sold.

Mazda held on to second place despite Hyundai’s growth, with the Japanese car-maker holding steady thanks to strong interest in its CX-5 and CX-3 SUVs, which both won their respective segments convincingly.

GM Holden dipped slightly last month by 2.5 per cent, but the Australian-built Commodore held on to seventh spot thanks to a 5.0 per cent lift.

The General’s SUV line-up had a bumper month, with Trax rising 63.2 per cent to 713 units, the Colorado 7 was up 55.4 per cent to 289 and the Captiva 7 climbed 10.7 per cent to 1077, a result due in part to the lack of remaining stock of its discontinued Captiva 5 sibling.

Mitsubishi sales rose 3.4 per cent which was enough to retain its top-five status, with the Triton slipping into sixth spot overall as the car-maker edges further away from its former direct sales rival, Nissan.

Ford continued its strong start to 2016 with a 7.6 per cent boost over March 2015 on the back of solid Mondeo, Kuga, EcoSport and Ranger 4x4 growth, while the company failed to stem the tide for its declining Focus (-44.5 per cent) and Fiesta (-49.2 per cent) models.

With just seven months to go until the closure of Ford’s Australian manufacturing operations, the Falcon continued to slide, with the company’s popular Mustang pony car stablemate now outselling it year to date, 1118 versus 1067 units.

Nissan had the biggest drop of the top 10 makes, losing 18.6 per cent last month on the back of big slides for the Qashqai, Pulsar and Navara 4x4.

Volkswagen treaded water with a 3.8 per cent dip to hold on to eighth place overall, with a strong month for Amarok counteracting sizeable drops for the Golf and Tiguan.

Subaru’s stellar form continued with a massive 20.6 per cent increase in sales last month due to a lift in interest for its refreshed Forester SUV as well as the soon-to-be-replaced Impreza and XV twins.

Mercedes-Benz grabbed 10th place overall last month with 3728 sales, and the German car-maker is now leading an intense sales battle at the back end of the top 10.

Mercedes is now ahead of perennial 10th-placegetter Honda in year-to-date sales 10,063 to 9598, but Kia is snapping at Honda’s heels with 9549 units shifted to the end of March.

BMW continued its strong form with a 15 per cent rise, while Audi crept up by 8.2 per cent. Japanese premium brand Infiniti also had its best month since launching in 2012, topping 100 sales for the first time.

Its key rival Lexus also maintained its pace with a 9.1 per cent lift, while Volvo leapt up by 58.2 per cent with all of its models except the V40 Cross Country in positive territory.

One mainstream brand outside the top 10 that had a strong month was Isuzu Ute, which grew by 49.5 per cent thanks to a big haul of D-Max (1792), while the MU-X was easily the most popular pick-up-based SUV in the country with 717 sales. Car-makers that did not fare well last month included Citroen (-40 per cent), Skoda (-13.1 per cent) and SsangYong (-56.4 per cent), while all of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Australia’s brands – Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep – had significant double-digit declines.

Top 10 selling brands March 2016
BrandSales% Variation

Top 10 selling models March 2016
Hyundai i304198
Toyota HiLux3897
Toyota Corolla3612
Ford Ranger2960
Mitsubishi Triton2740
Holden Commodore2559
Mazda CX-52252
Hyundai Accent2034
Nissan X-Trail1991

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