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April VFACTS: FCAI tips magic million

Popular: Mazda's CX-7 found 567 buyers in April to be the fifth-best selling compact SUV.

Peak government automotive industry body forecasts the magic million sales for 2007

7 May 2007

THE federal government’s peak motoring industry body has for the first time forecast that an unprecedented one million vehicles will be sold in Australia this year.

Australian new-vehicle sales reached an all-time high in the first quarter of 2007, when a record 255,068 new vehicles changed - up 20,463 or 8.7 per cent on Q1, 2006 and more than 18,000 units ahead of the previous best first-quarter sales number of 237,000, set in 2005 - when a record total of 988,269 vehicles were sold.

But a continued resurgence in the popularity of (mostly locally-built) large and upper large car sales in April, when according to official vehicles sales statistician VFACTS some 75,614 cars, trucks and buses were sold (up 6964 or 10.1% on the same month last year), has led to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries’ first one-million sale prediction – up from its 970,000 forecast last month.

So far this year the market is up nine per cent on the first four months of 2006 and up 5.5 per cent on the same period in the record year of 2005. Seasonally adjusted, the April sales volume equates to an annualised total of 1.053 million vehicle sales.

"On the present bullish sales trends it is very likely that by the end of 2007 we will reach one million annual motor vehicle sales for the first time ever," said outgoing FCAI chief executive Peter Sturrock.

Much of the growth in April was attributed to stronger sales of large and upper large passenger cars, segments that consist almost exclusively of homegrown sedans. Large-car sales were up 15.1 per cent in April, to be 4.5 per cent up so far this year.

A reasonably strong showing by Holden’s Commodore in April, when 4724 sales were recorded, saw Australia’s favourite nameplate claim 46.8 per cent of the segment – up from 43.6 per cent in April 2006. So far this year, with a dominant 19,494 sales, Commodore holds a 44.6 per cent segment share – up from 41.3 per cent.

Discounting slow-sellers like Nissan’s Maxima, Hyundai’s Grandeur and Mitsubishi’s 380 (which found only 723 new homes in April for 7.2% of the segment – narrowly ahead of Honda’s booming Accord V6), Ford’s Falcon was the biggest loser last month.

Falcon sedan and wagon sales slumped to just 2255 in April, accounting for only 22.3 per cent of large-car volume – down from 29.5 per cent in April 2006. Year-to-date, with a replacement still 12 months away, Falcon has attracted just 10,564 buyers and its 24.2 per cent segment share is down from 34.1 per cent in the first four months of last year.

106 center imageLeft: Holden Caprice and Toyota Aurion Sportivo SX6 (below).

Like the new VE Commodore, Toyota’s Camry-based Aurion was down from its best monthly result since launching in November with 1715 sales in April (for a 17.0% share in its class). YTD, Aurion has further bridged the gap to Falcon, with 6694 sales and a segment share of 15.3 per cent.

The upper large under $100,000 segment, comprising Australian-made long-wheelbase models, was up 51.0 per cent in April and remains 43.0 per cent up YTD. Top performer was Holden’s Caprice, with 201 sales in April for a 2007 total of 780. While that’s up 390 and 364 per cent respectively, Holden is also represented in the segment by Statesman, which attracted 161 buyers in April and 724 YTD (up 27.8% and 7.4% respectively).

Chrysler’s 300C was down 5.3 per cent for the month but still posted 124 sales to hold a YTD share of 23.2 per cent – ahead of Ford’s Fairlane (99 sales in April, 21.1% YTD) and LTD, which found only three customers in April for a YTD total of nine vehicles and a segment share of 0.3 per cent – down a big 47.1 per cent.

"As we forecast, the new generation of Australian models launched by Holden and Toyota have gained momentum and are selling very well - which should give great heart to the local car industry," said Mr Sturrock.

"There is plenty of evidence in the sales statistics that there is still a significant market for larger vehicles in Australia." Toyota’s homegrown Camry continued its whitewash of the highly populated medium car under $60,000 segment, with 1975 sales in April (up 57%) and 8422 sales for the year (up 32.1%).

Camry clinched a dominant 35.0 per cent of the segment in April, and hold a 35.7 per cent YTD share – well up on the segment’s only other four-figure seller, the Mazda6, whose 1010 April sales were down 5.4 per cent. Mazda6 holds a 19.0 per cent share of the segment (down from 20.8% last year), ahead of Accord Euro (12.3%), Subaru Liberty (9.9%) and Volkswagen’s Jetta (5.1%) and Passat (4.9%).

In the medium over $60,000 segment it’s all 3 Series sedan, which amassed 339 buyers in April – ahead of the Lexus IS250’s 263 and the Audi A4’s 193. Mercedes-Benz’s run-out C-class sedan found just 62 customers (two fewer than its Sports Coupe hatch sibling, which was the only class entrant to earn higher sales month-on-month). YTD, it’s 3 Series (1924 sales/36.5%) ahead of IS250 (1238/23.5%), C-class (892/16.9%) and A4 (866/16.4%).

Light car sales in April were again led by Toyota’s Yaris (with 2325 examples sold), which now has a YTD segment share of 25.4 per cent – ahead of Hyundai’s Getz (15.3%), Suzuki’s Swift (11.2%) and Holden’s Barina (10.9%), 641 sales of which for the month was 40.1 per cent down.

Honda’s Jazz is right behind with a 10.0 per cent segment share, following a 117.9 per cent sales boom in April. Jazz sales are 70 per cent up so far this year, while Peugeot’s new 207 was a runaway winner in April in the light car over $25,000 class, with 161 sales – ahead of Citroen’s C3 (48) and Fiat’s Punto (42)..

While light-car sales continued to grow last month (up 15.2%), the small-car segment softened by 6.7 per cent.

The small car under $60,000 gong for April went not to Corolla, which has shown the first signs of its age ahead of being replaced next month, but to Mazda3, which found 2438 buyers (compared to 2202 for Corolla, which was 24.0% down month-on-month).

The small Toyota remains on top YTD, with 13,307 sales and an 18.7 per cent segment share, versus 10,663/16.5% for Mazda3. Holden’s Astra is the next nearest rival, with 6367 sales (9.8% YTD) following a 1198-sale month – down 7.1 per cent.

A tightly-run small-car over $40,000 battle in April was narrowly won by BMW’s 1 Series (154 sales) ahead of Mercedes-Benz’s B-class (152), with Audi’s A3 (132), A-class (131) and Mini’s new Cooper (100) right behind. Mini says a high number of bespoke-specification vehicles has delayed volume deliveries of its new model, while Volvo’s new C30 hatch found 52 buyers.

The premium light YTD score chart is led by 1 Series (up 4.5%), followed by A3 (up 2.4%) and B-class (up 35.6%), while Alfa Romeo’s 147 is last following a 19.7 per cent YTD sales slide.

At the other end of the premium scale is the Benz S-class, which continued its sales momentum with 48 sales in April, for a YTD total of 153 sales and a 43.5 per cent share of the upper large car over $100,000 segment. BMW’s 7 Series is next with only 57 sales – just three ahead of Bentley’s Continental.

Kia’s Carnival continued its reign as Australia’s top-sellign people-mover in April and YTD, while Mazda’s MX-5 was undisputed top-seller in the sportscars under $80,000 field in April, but trails Holden’s Astra Convertible YTD. BMW’s 3 Series coupe and convertible models were unchallenged in the over $80,000 sportscar class.

Over in SUV land, new model launches saw the compact sector boom by 45.3 per cent in April, with RAV4 (1043 sales in April) duking it out with Nissan’s X-Trail (1027). Honda’s new CR-V (862 sales) failed to better third-placed Subaru Forester (903), and it’s the same story in YTD terms.

In the medium SUV stakes, Toyota’s Prado came perilously close to outselling Ford’s Territory in April (1075 v 1104 sales) and so far this year the fading Ford (5293) holds a narrow lead over Prado (4922), Holden’s Captiva (2995), Mitsubishi’s Pajero (2529), Toyota’s Kluger (1306) and Nissan’s Pathfinder (1022).

While LandCruiser continues to dominate Nissan’s Patrol in the epic large SUV contest, in the luxury SUV class BMW’s new X5 attracted 337 buyers (123% for the month). The new Beemer is still well off the YTD pace, however, with the Lexus RX350 leading the charge (1055 sales) ahead of the Benz M-class (777), Volvo’s rejuvenated XC90 range (643), Audi’s Q7 (541) and X5 (503).

Toyota was the top-selling brand in April with 16,383, followed by Holden (11,166) and Ford (7741). Fourth through to seventh were Mazda, Honda, Mitsubishi and Nissan, all of which achieved sales gains over the same month last year.

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