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VFACTS: Mitsubishi makes its sales move

On the up: Mitsubishi’s Triton-based Pajero Sport is one of the reasons the Japanese importer has outsold Holden in both February and March.

Record March market leaves Holden behind as Mitsubishi eyes fourth place

5 Apr 2017

MITSUBISHI outsold both Holden and Ford for the second successive month in March to creep within striking distance of leapfrogging the one-time market leaders from sixth place to fourth in the year-to-date new-vehicle sales rankings, according to official VFACTS data released today.

While the overall Australian market hit a record March high of 105,410 units – up 0.9 per cent on the corresponding month last year – Holden’s sales dipped 13.7 per cent, to 7211 units, as the GM subsidiary makes the tough transition from local manufacturer to importer.

By contrast, Mitsubishi, which completed a similar transition some years ago, grew sales by 16.3 per cent, to a March record 7583 units, on the strength of its SUV and Triton ute performances.

It also outsold Ford (6852), and now sits just 17 units behind fifth-placed Ford in year-to-date sales (18,433 v. 18,416), and just 1703 behind fourth-placed Holden (20,119).

Market number one Toyota powered ahead with a healthy 19,652 sales for the month (+10.1%), including a contribution of 4245 units from its all-conquering HiLux ute that returned to the top spot on the sales ladder, both for the month and year to date.

Mazda was steady in second place on 10,472 units, while Hyundai (8700) comfortably held on to third, despite a 10.3 per cent fall, mainly as a result of a switch this month to an all-new i30.

Once again, Australians showed their passion for their light trucks, voting with their credit cards to create an LCV quinella: HiLux (4245) first and Ford Ranger (3845) second.

But it was Mitsubishi that was the mover towards the top of the table, again finding favour with customers with its off-roaders and utes.

Sales of the Outlander grew 65.4 per cent, to 1609 units, while its Triton-based 4x4 wagon, the Pajero Sport, soared almost 130 per cent, to 975 sales. Even its old warhorse, the Pajero large SUV – one of the oldest vehicles on the market – grew its sales by 70.6 per cent, to 464 for the month.

For Holden, the latest sales figures indicate that, although it is early days, it is going to take time to gain traction with its imported passenger cars as it is counting down to the closure of its local manufacturing in October.

Astra Hatch’s 719 sales last month fell short of the 873 achieved by the car its replaces, the Cruze, in March last year, although the Astra only gained its mass-selling 1.6-litre automatic variant half way through the month. Also, Cruze had the advantage of sedan and wagon body styles along with hatch, while Astra is still awaiting its sedan version.

Barina, Spark, Captiva and Trax were all down again, as was the locally built Commodore (2081, -18.5%).

On the bright side, Colorado (1927) and Trailblazer (336) both recorded gains.

Although Mitsubishi is breathing down its neck, Ford again reversed its sales slide of recent years, despite diminished sales of Falcon (33) and Territory (268) that are now selling in dribs and drabs in runout since the closure of local Ford manufacturing last year.

Ranger continued to dominate Ford sales with 3845 units in March (+30%), making up almost half of all Blue Oval volume, although its locally developed wagon SUV sibling, the Everest (321) slipped slightly.

The new Escape (486) was a big improvement over its Kuga predecessor (306) last year, while Focus (520), Mondeo (300) and Mustang (622) all were in the black month on month.

The top-selling small car in March was Toyota’s Corolla (3574) ahead of the Mazda3 (3039), while Hyundai’s Tucson (2156) pipped Mazda’s CX-5 (2116) for SUV sales leadership while the latter’s guard was down in the middle of a major model change this month.

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Tony Weber said the long-running market transition from passenger cars to SUVs appeared to be the industry’s new norm.

“Two months in succession of SUV sales leading the market is further confirmation of a trend we’ve been observing for some time,” he said.

“For the first three months of 2017, the SUV segment is now the dominant sector, whereas this time last year passenger cars led the market by around 10,000 sales. Clearly, the shift in market dynamics is accelerating.” Kia consolidated its place in the top 10 with a mega 39.2 per cent sales increase over last March thanks to a 126 per cent jump in Cerato sales (1769) and 47.4 per cent lift in Sportage (1216).

The South Korean company is now running 34.8 per cent ahead of last year, locking up a record 12,873 sales in the first quarter.

Of the prestige brands, Mercedes-Benz smashed its March record with 4008 sales, thumping German rivals BMW (2220) and Audi (1508).

Mercedes’ top seller, the C-Class, outsold arch rival BMW 3-Series 745 to 252.

Subaru eclipsed 5000 units for the first time in March, notching up 5006 units (+3.8%). It was also Subaru’s second highest sales month ever, topped only by last June’s 5135 units.

Stars for the Japanese importer were the new Impreza (1168, +79.7%), and Outback (1202, +4.5%).

Top 10 selling brands March 2017
BrandSalesVariance %
Top 10 selling models March 2017
Toyota HiLux4245
Ford Ranger3845
Toyota Corolla3574
Mitsubishi Triton2670
Hyundai i302383
Toyota Camry2336
Hyundai Tucson2156
Mazda CX-52116
Holden Commodore2081

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