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News - VFACTS - Sales 2006 - August

Industry sales downturn continues

Role reversal: Ford Fiesta sales boomed in August as Territory continued its sales slide.

Aussie new car buyers get cold feet as record fuel prices continue to bite into sales

5 Sep 2006

AUSTRALIA’S new car market suffered its fifth consecutive month of sales contraction in August, according to official VFACTS figures released yesterday by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).

The steady new-vehicle sales spiral, which began almost six months ago after fuel prices first rose to record levels, continued despite the first full month of sales for the all-new version of Toyota's volume-selling Camry and the mid-month release of Holden’s redesigned VE Commodore sedan range.

Proof of the latest sales downturn follows anecdotal evidence Australians are driving more infrequently and for shorter distances, another rise in official interest rates and a dramatic increase in the number of drive-through thefts from fuel stations around the nation, leading one retail fuel distributor to trial a US-style pay-before-you-fill policy.

Despite another decrease in new-car sales last month, the FCAI continues to predict a near-record total of 980,000 vehicles sales for 2007, which would be down only marginally on last year’s record industry tally of 988,269 vehicles but would still be well up on the previous best figure of 955,229 set in 2004.

August 2006 sales were down 4516 vehicles or 5.2 per cent on the same month last year, which comprised the same number of selling days and attracted average of 170 extra vehicle sales per day.

Toyota was the biggest selling brand again in August, when the passenger vehicle market dropped by 1618 vehicle sales or 3.0 per cent month-on-month, the light truck market fell by 1301 vehicle sales or 8.9 per cent month-on-month and the sports utility market plunged by 1634 vehicle sales or 10.8 percent month-on-month.

Only the heavy commercial vehicle market was up, by 37 vehicle sales or 1.4 per cent.

Year-to-date, Toyota now leads Holden by a margin of 42,834 vehicle sales or 6.6 market share points, followed by Ford, but a total industry sales figure of 642,383 sales is 3.4 per cent or 22,513 vehicles sales down on the 2005 YTD figure.

Projected out for the year, the current sales rate will result in total new-vehicle sales for 2006 of about 970,000, which would be almost 2.0 per cent down on the Australian auto industry’s record 2005 total.

A rash of new model activity in the final quarter of this year will include the highly anticipated launch of an all-new competitor for Commodore in Toyota’s Aurion and the upgrade of its most direct rival in Ford’s BF Series II Falcon, plus the likelihood of another medium sedan in the shape of Holden’s new Epica.

Almost as significant will be the release of a number of high-profile SUVs for the first time in Australia, including Holden’s new Captiva, the Mazda CX-7, Subaru’s Tribeca, the Mercedes-Benz GL-class and Audi’s Q7.

Mitsubishi will also release a redesigned Pajero, Lexus will offer its hybrid-powered RX400h for the first time, Volvo has a facelifted and expanded XC90 range in store and Volkswagen will launch another diesel Touareg variant.

However, all of those models will be launched into shrinking market segments.

While the passenger market is down by 11,280 vehicle sales or 2.8 per cent overall so far this year, the SUV market is down by an even bigger margin: 9144 vehicles or 7.4 per cent.

Biggest YTD decline in the passenger car sector is being experienced by the large car segment. The Commodore/Falcon segment dropped a massive 27.2 per cent in August to be down 26,461 units or a sizeable 22.7 per cent YTD – precisely the same proportion by which the light car segment is up YTD, which equates to an extra 14,346 light car sales.

Falcon was the biggest homegrown loser in the sub-$80,000 large car segment in August, with 3703 sales (for a 34.5 per cent segment share) being 36.4 per cent down on last August. YTD Falcon sales of 29,672 (34.6 per cent) is down 19.7 per cent on 2005 figures.

106 center imageLeft: New Camry helped Toyota sell 18,585 cars in August, an increase of 3.7 per cent over its previous best for month, set last year Chrysler's 300C attracted 200 new owners in August, easily out-selling Fairlane and Statesman to help the brand register 861 sales last month - a 26 per cent increase on August 2005 Nissan's Murano posted a massive 350 per cent sales increase the small Caliber hatch relaunched the Dodge brand last month and found 86 new homes.

Released mid-way through the month, Holden’s new VE saw Commodore fare better for the month, when 4986 customers were found (about 2600 of which were VEs, leaving only about 400 VZ examples unsold), representing only an 11.2 per cent month-on-month downturn.

But The General’s volume-seller remains worse off in the first eight months of this year, when 35,688 Commodores found homes (for a big 41.6 per cent segment share) to be almost a quarter (24.5 per cent) down YTD.

Nissan’s Maxima was the biggest (downward) mover in the segment, dropping sales by 51.3 per cent for the month (when it sold just 120 examples) to be 45.4 per cent down for the year (with 1209 sales). Mitsubishi’s 380 continues to hold a 10.1 per cent segment share with 8640 sales YTD, following 1069 sales in August to claim a 10 per cent share.

In the $80,000-plus large car segment, BMW’s 5 Series (1275 sales YTD, 31.2 per cent) continues to lead the way from the Mercedes-Benz E-class (1008 sales, 24.7 per cent), despite a 33.6 per cent sales slide in August.

Volvo failed to sell a single S80 in August and the model remains 93.1 per cent down YTD in the lead-up to its replacement, but the V70 posted a 180 per cent sales hike in August to remain 21.1 per cent down YTD.

Chrysler sold another 200 examples of its 300C in August, easily out-selling Ford’s Fairlane (121 sales) and Holden’s Statesman (36 sales) to hold a dominant 36.3 per cent share of the upper large under $100,000 segment YTD. But the segment was 32.4 per cent down month-on-month and lies 12.5 per cent adrift on year-on-year figures.

The flip side is a light car segment that experienced a whopping 31.4 per cent sales spike in August, thanks largely to Ford’s Fiesta (up 88 per cent), Peugeot’s run-out 206 (up 65.4 per cent), Kia’s new Rio (up 63.8 per cent) and Citroen’s expanded C2 range (up 90.9 per cent off a low base). YTD, strong sustained gains have been posted by Holden’s Barina (up 52.5 per cent), Suzuki’s new Swift (up 44.2 per cent) and Fiesta (up 35.2 per cent).

Small car sales are also up YTD, by a less significant 4317 vehicles or 3.0 per cent, as are sales of people-movers - by a paltry 46 vehicles or 0.4 per cent, largely driven by the sustained popularity of Toyota’s Avensis and the same brand’s new Tarago.

Toyota’s aged Corolla remains the nation’s top-selling small car despite a 13.3 per cent sales slide in August, when Mazda3 sales rose by a third to remain second-best YTD, Holden Astra sales slipped a massive 54.7 per cent to retain third YTD and Ford Focus sales lifted a whopping 82.6 per cent to retain fourth place YTD.

Honda’s new Civic jumped in popularity by 47.3 per cent to clinch the fifth best-seller spot YTD ahead of Mitsubishi’s Lancer, while new models in Holden’s Viva (1025 sales) and Nissan’s Tiida (1006 sales) were the other small cars to attract more than 1000 buyers in August.

Light cars, small cars and people-movers aside, all other passenger car segments are down YTD, with the upper large sector down 212 vehicles or 4.7 per cent, sports cars down by 1216 vehicles or 10.2 per cent and the once-spirited medium segment down by 2100 vehicles or 3.6 per cent – despite a 10.5 per cent (801-vehicle) sales increase in August.

That was largely attributable to the new Camry’s sales performance in August, when 3023 examples were retailed for a dominant 44.8 per cent share of the medium segment – a 45.7 per cent month-on-month increase. However, with 12,929 sales so far in 2006 (representing a 30 per cent segment share), Camry sales remain 20.1 per cent down year-on-year.

Peugeot’s 407 (up 27.8 per cent in August) and Volvo’s S40 (up 78.1 per cent), S60 (up 58.3 per cent) and V50 (up 106.3 per cent) also contributed to strong medium segment growth last month.

It’s a similar story in the SUV market, where the luxury segment continues to be the only shining light in an otherwise declining market. Luxury SUV sales are up 1073 sales or 10.1 per cent YTD despite falling by 118 vehicles or 7.5 per cent in August, when Mercedes sold 196 M-class variants to be up a big 152.5 per cent YTD.

Compact SUV was the only growth sector in August but the segment remains down 384 vehicles or 0.7 per cent so far this year. The medium SUV segment fell the most in August, when 1664 fewer vehicles were bought (down 27 per cent), and now lies 6731 vehicles (or 14.2 per cent) behind 2005 figures.

All medium SUV models except Land Rover’s Defender experienced slower sales in August, with Ford’s top-selling Territory down by 18.4 per cent YTD and Kia’s Sorento down 51.1 per cent YTD. Up YTD are Holden’s Adventra (by 7.6 per cent), Nissan’s new Pathfinder (by 163.3 per cent) and the same brand’s Murano (by a staggering 350.7 per cent).

Large SUVs are down an even more significant 3102 vehicles or 22.9 per cent this year following a month in which 223 fewer customers (or 15.6 per cent) opted for Toyota’s LandCruiser, Nissan’s Patrol or Ford’s Explorer. Some 72 Jeep Commanders were purchased in August for a YTD total of 240.

Finally, the light truck market is down 2328 vehicles or 2.0 per cent so far in 2006, despite YTD and monthly sales increases in the Pick-up/Cab Chassis 4X4 and light bus segments.

Top five makes in August (by sales):

1 Toyota - 18,585
2 Holden - 11,819
3 Ford - 10,323
4 Mazda - 5011
5 Honda - 4727

Top three makes in 2006 (by market share):

1 Toyota - 21.8%
2 Holden - 15.2%
3 Ford - 12.5%

What’s in store for 2006:

Audi Q7 SUV range
BMW 3 Series Coupe redesign
Ford Transit van redesign
Lexus RX400h SUV variant
Maserati MC Victory coupe variant
Mercedes-Benz E-class upgrade
Mitsubishi Pajero SUV redesign
Peugeot 307 HDi auto variant
Subaru Liberty sedan upgrade
Subaru Liberty GT sedan variant
Subaru Outback wagon upgrade
Suzuki Swift Sport variant
Volvo XC90 SUV facelift
Volvo XC90 turbo-diesel variant
Volvo XC90 V8 variant
Alfa Romeo Spider convertible range
BMW Z4 Coupe range
Citroen C6 sedan redesign
Ferrari 599 coupe
Ford Falcon BFII range upgrade
Holden Captiva SUV range
Mazda6 diesel variant
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van redesign
Porsche Cayman 2.7 coupe variant
Porsche Boxster convertible upgrade
Toyota Aurion sedan range
Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 TDI variant
Fiat Punto hatch SMG variant
Mazda CX-7 SUV range
Mercedes-Benz GL-class SUV range
Subaru Tribeca SUV range
Volkswagen Crafter van redesign
Holden Epica medium sedan range
Mazda BT-50 utility redesign
Peugeot 207 hatch redesign
Porsche 911 Targa 4 variant
Porsche 911 GT3 coupe variant
Volvo S80 sedan redesign
Volvo S80 V8 variant

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