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Winners and losers of 2007

Hot performer: Commodore was Australia's top-selling nameplate for the 12th year in succession.

Australia now among the world’s top car-buying nations as sales pass one million

7 Jan 2008

THE Australian new car market grew an impressive 9.1 per cent in 2007 for a total of 1,049,982 sales, with 10 of the 12 months posting records.

Confirming the first million-plus result in Melbourne today, the chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Andrew McKellar, noted that Australia is now one of the biggest car-buying nations in the world.

“One million new motor vehicles sales in a country of 21 million people is an impressive achievement by the Australian automotive industry – and ranks as one of the highest rates of new car purchase in the developed world,” said Mr McKellar.

He noted that Australia’s rate of 1:21 compares with a figure of 1:25 for the UK.

The Australian market has grown 35 per cent (277,000 vehicles) since 2001 and Mr McKellar said that last year’s 9.1 per cent increase far outstrips Australia’s economic growth of 4.0 per cent in 2007.

The 2007 result was further boosted by record December sales of 86,250 - up 9,187 or 11.9 per cent on December 2006.

“The Australian motor vehicle market has now grown in six out of the last seven years, driven by the strength of the labour market, rising asset values and improving vehicle affordability,” said Mr McKellar.

For the 12th year in succession, Holden Commodore was Australia’s best-selling vehicle, recording 57,307 sales in 2007 to finish almost 10,000 units ahead of the Toyota Corolla (47,792).

 center imageLeft: Toyota's record-breaking fleet

Despite supply constraints as a result of Toyota Australia underestimating demand for turbo-diesel models, Toyota’s rampant HiLux light commercial vehicle finished third with 42,009 sales, compared with 36,885 the previous year.

SUVs and light commercials were major contributors to overall market growth, together contributing almost half of the 87,000 additional sales over 2006 (27,329 extra SUVs for a 16.0 per cent rebound, and 15,052 4x4 pick-ups for a 22.3 per cent increase).

For the third year in succession, however, the biggest market segment in Australia was small cars, which grew a further 5.9 per cent (13,030 units) to 232,388 sales.

Despite the first full year of sales for the VE Commodore and new Camry, the once dominant large car segment increased only 2.3 per cent for a total of 139,677 sales.

The flat large car result was mainly due to a severe drop-off for the Ford Falcon – which dropped some 19.9 per cent to just 33,941, pushing it back to fifth place behind Commodore, Corolla, HiLux and Mazda3.

Toyota once again dominated the sales race, finishing as the best-selling brand in Australia for the fifth year in succession, with 236,647 sales for a 22.5 per cent market share.

Toyota had five of the eight top-selling vehicles of 2007, with Corolla (2nd) and HiLux (3rd) supported by the light car segment-leading Yaris in 6th, medium-leader Camry in 7th and the six-cylinder Aurion in 8th.

Toyota sales and marketing chief David Buttner said he was especially delighted with the results of the locally produced Camry and Aurion, which resulted in the company increasing production for local consumption by 40 per cent.

At the same time, exports reached a record 95,000 for a total output at Altona of 145,000 vehicles.

Mr Buttner said that Toyota sales have increased by 50 per cent in just five years and last year was number one in every state for the first time.

“After coming close in the past couple of years, we were finally number one in South Australia, the home state of two other local manufacturers,” said Mr Buttner.

Light car sales rise by 11,805 or 10.2 per cent for the year while, at the other end of the spectrum, upper large cars were up by some 27 per cent on a small base, thanks to the new Holden Statesman/Caprice range.

Holden maintained second overall to Toyota with 14.0 per cent market share (down from 15.2 per cent the previous year) while Ford dropped from 11.9 per cent to 10.3 per cent but was still a clear third.

Mazda retained fourth place for the year, increasing market share from 6.6 to 7.4 per cent – the company’s biggest share since 1974 and confirming its status as Australia’s top full-line importer.

Having been beaten by Honda last year by just 27 sales, Mitsubishi rebounded in 2006 with a 20.7 per cent growth to take fifth place with a 6.2 per cent market share compared with Honda’s 5.8 per cent.

Despite continued sagging sales for the 380 (down 11.9 per cent), Mitsubishi was one of the country’s biggest-growing brands for 2006 thanks to strong sales of all its imports, headed by the Outlander (up 63.9 per cent), Pajero (up 56.4 per cent), Colt (up 47.9 per cent), Express (up 46.1 per cent), Triton 4x2 (up 39.9 per cent) and Triton 4x4 (up 34.1 per cent).

Mitsubishi’s top-selling vehicle was again the Lancer, which increased 13.5 per cent despite a new model change-over during the year.

Nissan finished just 514 sales behind Honda for the year to retain seventh place, extending its lead over Hyundai and Subaru, while Volkswagen’s share improved from 2.2 to 2.6 per cent to round out the top ten.

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