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VFACTS: Soft fleet sales hit January volumes

Last hurrah: The previous-generation Mazda3 went out with a bang in January, topping the sales charts as dealers ran out old stock ahead of the new model this month.

New vehicle sales down in January as business pulls back on fleet purchases

VFACTS logo5 Feb 2014

A 7.8 PER CENT decline in business vehicle purchases last month contributed to a 3.7 per cent decline in January vehicle sales across Australia, reflecting softening business confidence.

Official VFACTS sales figures released today show January vehicle sales fell by more than 3000 units compared with the same month last year, down from 85,430 last January to 82,285 last month.

All four major segments took a backward step, with even SUV sales declining 2.8 per cent. Light commercial vehicles were hardest hit, down 12.9 per cent.

While private buyers remained strong in the market, accounting for more than half of all vehicle sales, business buyers kept their credit cards in their wallets.

Corporate purchases of light trucks and vans fell 26.1 per cent, while company purchases of SUVs also slipped 11.5 per cent, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).

Rental company purchases also fell by 37.5 per cent, to just 1233 units, but government purchases went against the downward trend of last year by rising 8.9 per cent.

The top-selling vehicle in January was the outgoing Mazda3 which went out with a bang in January with 4561 sales – its second-best sales month since the nameplate was launched in 2004.

Most of the Mazda3s sold by Mazda in a record January were discounted run-out models, with Mazda clearing the decks for the all-new version that went on sale on February 1.

The Mazda3 blitzed the reigning car sales champion, the Toyota Corolla, which accumulated 2914 sales for the month to come in second.

106 center imageFrom top:Toyota Corolla, HiLux, Hyundai i30 and Holden Commodore.

Mazda not only won the top-selling small-car segment with the Mazda3, but also had the best-selling light car (Mazda2) and number one SUV, the CX-5.

While Toyota remained the number one vehicle brand with 13,646 sales in January (up 2.0 per cent), Mazda was propelled into second place with 9411 sales – up 5.6 per cent in the Japanese importer’s best January.

Holden came third on the back of a strong performance by its VF Commodore which, despite the absence of business fleet buyers in the market, hit its straps with 2364 sales for the month.

This was a 42 per cent improvement on the same month last year, and came despite wide-spread media coverage of Holden’s decision to quit local manufacturing.

Holden’s other locally produced car, the Cruze, was not so fortunate, slipping 14.8 per cent to 1395 sales.

Ford’s Aussie Falcon slumped to a new low, attracting only 461 buyers in January – a worse performance than the previous worst month for the car, in August last year, when Ford delivered just 573 Falcons.

The related Ford Territory also hit a pothole, with sales down 41.3 per cent to just 681 units.

Overall Ford sales declined 11.9 per cent to 6804 vehicles for fifth place, behind hard-charging Korean importer Hyundai (7152 vehicles, up 4.9 per cent).

Hyundai had two contenders in the top 10-selling vehicles – its i30 small car (2486) and ix35 small SUV (1496).

One of the big losers in the January market was Nissan whose 4253 sales represented a 41.3 per cent slump in sales volume.

Despite a massive launch program including a full season of V8 Supercars, Nissan mid-sized Altima achieved just 109 sales in January.

However, sales of the new Pathfinder jumped 189 per cent, to 350 units, and the Pulsar improved 80 per cent, to 626 vehicles.

Nissan’s closest rival, Mitsubishi, also suffered a sales decline in January, finding homes for 4140 vehicles (down 6.9 per cent).

Volkswagen’s sales topped 4000 units for the first time in January, to 4048 sales (up 5.9 per cent).

Kia came into the top 10 at the expense of Honda, with Kia’s sale rising 7.6 per cent, to 2484 units, and Honda’s plummeting 35.6 per cent to 2471.

In the battle of the luxury marques, Audi had a rare win over BMW, achieving a company-best January sales tally of 1685 vehicles, led by its small and medium SUVs, the Q3 and Q5.

However, Mercedes-Benz retained its supremacy over its German rivals, selling 1713 passenger cars and SUVs. Adding commercial vehicles, Mercedes delivered 2029 vehicles for the month.

FCAI chief executive Tony Weber said that although sales declined across most segments, small SUVs continued to be a popular choice.

“Sales in this segment reached 6146 in January 2014, which is a 17.6 per cent increase on January 2013 small SUV sales,” he said.

Top 10 selling brands January 2014
Rank Brand Sales % Variation
1 Toyota 13,646 +2.0
2 Mazda 9411 +5.6
3 Holden 8871 +0.7
4 Hyundai 7152 +4.9
5 Ford 6804 -11.9
6 Nissan 4253 -41.3
7 Mitsubishi 4140 -6.9
8 Volkswagen 4048 +5.9
9 Subaru 3051 -1.7
10 Kia 2484 +7.6
Top 10 selling models January 2014
Rank Model Volume
1 Mazda3 4561
2 Toyota Corolla 2914
3 Toyota HiLux 2544
4 Hyundai i30 2486
5 Holden Commodore 2364
6 Ford Focus 2074
7 Mazda CX-5 1853
8 Ford Ranger 1617
9 Volkswagen Golf 1557
10 Hyundai ix35 1496

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