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News - VFACTS - Sales 2006 - February

February VFACTS: Large car slide continues

Up and down: Mitsubishi's 380 recorded a 41 per cent sales rise thanks in part to the LE (above), while Nissan sold just 708 Tiidas (below) last month.

Mitsubishi 380 sales spike thanks to limited-edition as large car market fall again

7 Mar 2006

LARGE car sales continued to fall during February despite widespread incentives from all players in this segment.

And at 77,466, overall new vehicle sales were down 3695 units (or 4.6 per cent) on February 2005’s record 81,141.

Yet last month’s tally was still the second-best February total ever.

Mitsubishi’s highly publicised 380 LE special offer – unveiled in the second week of the month – saw a 41 per cent spike in sales for the newest large car contender.

It’s a result the company says is the best since the Magna replacement’s first full month on sale last November.

But at 1011 vehicles, up from a dismal 719 units in an admittedly slow January retail month, this was still well down on the 2500 monthly units the company forecast at the 380’s launch last September.

It’s also worth noting that Mitsubishi sold 1782 of the Magna/Verada models in February ’05 (and 100 still last month).

Mitsubishi now says it will take some time for 380 sales to reach "an acceptable level and role within the total model range." Nevertheless Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited president and CEO Rob McEniry is cautiously optimistic that the 380 LE’s retail impact and fleet penetration are still gathering sales momentum.

Month-on-month, the 380’s 41 per cent growth rate exceeded that of the large car segment’s expanse from January’s alarming 12.3 per cent to 15.5 per cent (February ’05: 17.6 per cent), by nine per cent.

"I am looking forward to the next couple of months as we get the full effect of the LE campaign and also fleet sales continue to kick in," he said.

In other large car under $80,000 news, Holden Commodore sales slid almost 19 per cent to within just 39 units of the Ford Falcon’s slightly improved 4743 tally, at 4787 units.

Nissan’s Maxima sales are down to 142 (down 32 from January and half of February 2005’s result), Camry V6 nosedived 200 units to 736 cars, while the all-new Hyundai Grandeur recorded a healthy 117 sales.

Year-to-date, large car sales represent just 14 per cent of the passenger car market, compared to 16.4 this time last year.

Holden CEO Denny Mooney told GoAuto last month that, on the eve of the VE Commodore, it’s figures like these that keep him awake at night.

106 center image Holden Barina sales should please him though, with its 1369 sales almost catching the Hyundai Getz’s 1409 tally (down from January’s strong 1906 total), although Toyota’s ruling new Yaris’ 1757 – though slipping from 1833 – is proof that the change from Echo has been seamless.

Suzuki Swift (858), Kia Rio (661) and VW’s refreshed Polo (110) have also shown good progress.

Up in February but down on the same time in 2005 small car sales may have been, but their market share increased to 21.8 per cent against last year’s 20.9 overall.

With 3396 Toyota Corolla, 2577 Mazda3 and 1646 Holden Astra sales, this triumvirate accounted for almost half of all new small car sales under $40,000.

But Nissan must be concerned with only 708 Tiida cars finding homes in its February debut month. Running at around half of those projected, it’s also 384 units down on February 2005’s 1420 Pulsar total even with the 328 Pulsars sold last month included.

Holden’s small-car share dropped 2.1 per cent month-on-month despite the new Viva’s arrival, Ford’s Focus is up slightly but not enough, while the Honda Civic’s 4.7 per cent share – up from 2.8 in February ’05 – is impressive considering the new model’s on-sale date was February 23.

Medium cars below $55,000 tripped to 7.1 per cent of the total passenger car market (down from 7.7), with the recently revamped Hyundai Sonata and new VW Jetta being the only sunny spots here.

Meanwhile in the Medium $55K-plus sector money talks, because the suddenly more-affordable Alfa 156, Saab 9-3 and Volvo S40/V50 duo all increased their sales.

And so does fresh metal, since the BMW E90 3 Series, Lexus IS250 and the Audi A4 all increased their market share.

Chrysler’s 130 300C sales outdid Ford’s Fairlane but not the 204-selling Holden Statesman, while the new Mercedes S-class’ 41-unit result topped the $100K-plus Upper Large dominion.

Toyota is dominating both SUV Compact and SUV Large sales with its RAV4 and LandCruiser respectively.

Ford’s reigning Territory gained sales in February but is down almost 25 per cent year-on-year in the medium SUV sector, with Toyota’s Kluger and Prado also recording similar drops.

Meanwhile, the Holden Adventra has doubled its meagre market share to 5.1 per cent year-on-year while the Nissan Pathfinder is performing strongly.

With passenger vehicle and SUV sales down 4.3 and 13 per cent respectively, only the light truck segment grew year-on-year in February.

Star performances here came from Toyota’s refreshed HiLux ute and HiAce van models, Holden’s Crewman and the golden-oldies Mitsubishi Triton and Nissan D22 Navara.

Reflecting fuel price concerns, while the rear-drive Falcon and Commodore utes continue their slide, the 4x2 Triton and 4X2 Ford Courier picked up some of their slack.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries still predicts 980,000 sales for 2006, which would about match the record ’05 result.

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