News - VFACTS - Sales 2007 - March
New-car sales hit all-time record in Q1
The magic million still looks good following record first-quarter new-car sales
10 Apr 2007
AUSTRALIAN new-car buyers voted with their feet in March when an all-time sales record for the month was set. According to motor industry statistician VFACTS, some 94,392 new cars, trucks and buses were sold last month – up 8.3 per cent on the same month last year.
The figure combines with a rebounding large-car sales segment and the continued growth of small car sales to make the first three months of 2007 the best first-quarter sales result on record.
Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) figures show an unprecedented 255,068 vehicles were sold in the first quarter of this year – 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.
Seasonally adjusted, the Aussie market remains well on target to break the magic million mark this year, and in doing so set a new sales record by bettering the 2005 result of 988,269. However, FCAI chief executive Peter Sturrock continues to forecast a 2007 sales total of 970,000.
"By any measure it's a remarkably strong start to the year and one that has probably taken even the optimists in our industry slightly by surprise," he said. "Consumers appear to have shaken off any lingering concerns about fuel prices and interest rates and have responded enthusiastically to the intensely competitive prices being offered in dealerships."As in February, the volume-selling large-car segment again contributed to the healthy March result by being 4.7 per cent up compared to the same month in 2007 – the second positive result after months of declining sales.
Holden recorded the best Commodore sales figures since the redesigned VE sedan was launched last September, with 5752 sales easily returning it to "most popular model" status after being dethroned on a number of occasions last year by Toyota’s Corolla small car.
That is up from the record 5544 sold last month and gives Holden a 44 per cent share of the big-six segment both in March and year-to-date (versus 40.7 per cent YTD in 2006). Commodore sales were up 11.3 per cent in March, and up 9.3 per cent so far this year.
Toyota’s Aurion also sold strongly, with the 2037 examples sold (up from 1817 in February) representing 15.6 per cent of the category in March. YTD, a total of 4979 Aurion sales gives Toyota a 14.8 per cent share of the segment.
From top: Holden Berlina, Toyota Prius and Mitsubishi 380 VRX.
In between was Ford’s Falcon, which slipped further behind 2006 levels by attracting just 3249 buyers in March for a 24.9 per cent share. That is down from 4345 cars and 34.6 per cent month-on-month (down 25.2%), while YTD figures are even worse with just 8309 Falcons sold (24.7%) – compared to 11,709 vehicles and 35.3 per cent at the same time last year. So far this year Falcon sales are down a whopping 29 per cent.
In contrast, Mitsubishi’s 380 sedan is up 4.7 per cent YTD (3077 versus 2940, with a market share of 9.2% versus 8.9%), despite 15.5 per cent lower month-on-month results in March, when 1022 (7.8%) vehicles were sold, compared to 1210 (9.6%) in March 2006.
Other large-car notables are Honda’s Accord V6 (up 150.5% in March and 41.2% YTD) and Hyundai’s Grandeur, which slumped 4.5 per cent in March and is down 39.1 per cent YTD.
Of course, the small-car sector remained the fastest growing class in March. It is up 8532 sales or 16.7 per cent in the first quarter, led by Corolla despite the imminent arrival of its replacement in May. Some 4029 Corolla sales in March (for a 19.9% segment share) was up from 3680 in March 2006, when Corolla’s share of the less populated small-car class was 20.5 per cent. YTD, Corolla is eight per cent up with a 19.2 per cent share (down from 20.9%).
Light-car sales grew by 3334 or 11.9 per cent in the first quarter, while medium SUV sales gained 1617 units or 4.7 per cent and compact SUV sales lifted 2851 or 22.2 per cent.
The latter category was boosted by Honda’s new CR-V which beat Toyota’s perennial class best-seller, the RAV4, by finding 1454 homes in March (for a 16.8% share). That’s up from 813 and 11.4 per cent in March 2006 – up 78.8 per cent. RAV4 managed 1406 sales in March (16.2%). YTD, CR-V is up 6.5 per cent with 3012 and 13.3 per cent, while RAV4 holds sway with 3670 and 16.3 per cent, separated by both Nissan’s X-Trail and Subaru’s Forester, both of which hold a 13.6 per cent segment share.
Sales in the pick-up/cab-chassis 4x4 segment grew by 4614 or 30 per cent in the first quarter, led largely by another best-ever sales month for Toyota’s HiLux and Nissan’s new Navara, which was up a massive 182.4 per cent in March and 154.3 per cent YTD.
Thanks to the best March performance ever by its locally-produced vehicles, Toyota remained Australia's most popular brand in March with 21,390 sales, ahead of Holden (13,454) and Ford (10,074). YTD, Toyota holds 22 per cent of the market, from Holden (14.3 per cent) and Ford (10.7 per cent).
Stand-out brands in the first quarter include Mazda with a 7.9 per cent share (up from 7.1%, after selling more than 7000 cars in March for the first time ever), Nissan with 6.6 per cent (up from 5.1%), and both Mitsubishi and Honda with 6.2 per cent (up from 5.5%). Audi also finished the first quarter of 2007 with an all-time record result of 1931 sales, following the sale of 618 cars in March – up 34 per cent.
It is Toyota, however, that appears set to retain the "triple-crown" of being the top-selling passenger car, commercial vehicle and overall brand by having five of the top 10 best-selling models: Corolla (third with 4029 sales), Yaris (sixth with 2702), Camry (seventh with 2574) and Aurion (ninth with 2037).
The Prius hybrid also posted its best sales month ever, with 304 sales reflecting increased supply for Australia.
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