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April VFACTS: HiLux crushes Commodore

Favourite: HiLux was Australia's top-selling vehicle bar none last month.

HiLux overtakes Commodore as an Easter-free April drives new-car sales to new highs

5 May 2008

AUSTRALIA'S new vehicle industry is even more likely to break the million mark again this year following record sales in April, when Toyota's HiLux was the first utility to become the nation's top-selling vehicle - and proved more popular than Holden's Commodore and the Japanese brand's own Corolla.

An all-time April sales record was driven largely by stronger business sales, as well as booms in the small-car, SUV and light truck segments, helped by the fact Easter fell earlier than usual this year in March.

Underlying consumer sentiment remained healthy in the face of interest rate rises last month, with official VFACTS figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) today showing that a total of 84,061 cars, trucks and buses were sold in April - an increase of 11.2 per cent on April 2007.

Year-to-date the car market is now up by 5.1 per cent on the Australian industry’s all-time record year of 2007.

But with new-car sales to private buyers remaining relatively static with an increase of 0.6 per cent year-to-date, it is fleet purchasers who have driven much of the sales growth this year. Business sales are up a sizeable 12.6 per cent so far in 2008.

“While the April result was boosted by the early timing of Easter, which fell in March, the underlying sales trend remains notably strong and resilient,” said FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar.

“The FCAI forecast of one million vehicle sales this year remains firm,” he said.

Overall passenger car sales were up a big 3603 vehicles or 24.0 per cent month-on-month in April, thanks to stronger sales recorded by small cars, SUVs, light trucks and buses.

Toyota attracted more than double the number of customers found by Holden in April, when Australia’s favourite vehicle brand sold a record 20,838 vehicles (up 27.2 per cent on Toyota’s April 2007 result) compared to 10,187 for Holden and 8246 for Ford.

While Holden and Ford trail in the top three with 12.1 and 9.8 per cent respectively, Toyota’s market share in April stood at almost one-quarter (24.8 per cent) – a monthly market share record for Toyota.

Toyota has now sold 81,062 vehicles after the first four months of 2008, with Holden finding 44,037 new homes and Ford attracting just 34,533 buyers. YTD, Toyota holds 23.3 share of the overall market, ahead of Holden (12.7 per cent) and Ford (9.9 per cent).

106 center imageTop to bottom: Toyota Camry, Aurion, Holden Commodore, Mercedes-Benz C-class and Volkswagen Eos.The remainder of the top ten selling brands for the month reflected their YTD positions, with Mazda fourth overall and claiming an 8.0 per cent share in April with 6749 sales – 18 per cent up on its April 2007 number and its best April sales ever. Mazda is now 10 per cent ahead of its 2007 YTD position, with 28,439 sales and a share of 8.2 per cent.

Mitsubishi remains fifth with 5007 sales in April (for a 6.0 per cent share) and 21,697 sales YTD (6.2 per cent) - ahead of Nissan, which posted 4935 sales in April (5.9 per cent) and 20,375 sales YTD (5.9 per cent). In seventh remains Honda following 4289 sales in April (5.1 per cent) and 19,448 sales YTD (5.6 per cent).

Rounding out the top ten are Hyundai with 3683 April sales (4.4 per cent) and 15,058 YTD (4.3 per cent), Subaru with 3158 April sales (3.8 per cent) and 13,473 YTD (3.9 per cent) and Volkswagen with 2440 April sales (2.9 per cent) and 10,290 YTD (3.0 per cent).

In terms of individual model performances, biggest upset of the month was the fact Holden’s Commodore was outsold not only by Toyota’s Corolla (as it was last month), but also by the same brand’s HiLux, which became the nation’s top-selling vehicle for the first time last month.

That’s right, the HiLux record 1608 4x2 sales and 2206 4x4 sales for a total of 3814 - an increase of more than 27.1 per cent on the same month last year, making it the first month ever that a ute, and a Thai-built one at that, was Australia’s most popular new vehicle.

Marking the first time Toyota has ever scored the “quinella” by having Australia’s two best-selling vehicles in one month, April also saw the Corolla find almost 400 more customers than the Commodore. So far this year, Australians have bought 15,724 Corollas - at least 890 more than any other vehicle.

The Toyota steamroller continued in the SUV sphere, with the world’s biggest car-maker also claiming the top four positions in the SUV best-seller’s list: Kluger, RAV4, Prado and LandCruiser.

Segment by segment, the light car win in April went to Toyota’s Yaris (2063 sales, 21.2%), ahead of Hyundai’s Getz (1448, 14.9%), the Mazda2 (1140, 11.7%), Suzuki’s Swift (1005, 10.3%) and Holden’s Barina ( 993, 10.2%).

The latter’s performance was 54.9 per cent up month-on-month and that of the new Mazda2 was up a staggering 109.6 per cent, while Honda’s sixth-placed Jazz was down 36 per cent.

Despite being down 11.3 per cent for the month and 10.9 per cent YTD, the Yaris still holds a commanding 20.6 per cent market share so far this year – well ahead of the Getz (12.5%), Mazda2 (11.9%), Barina (10.0%) and Swift (9.9%). YTD, the light car segment is up 3890 sales or 9.6 per cent.

The $25,000-plus light-car gong went to Peugeot’s 207 (186 sales, 59.6%), over Fiat’s new 500, which found 50 new homes (16.0%) to help make it Fiat’s best month since its passenger cars returned to Australia in 2006.

Fiat says it could have tripled its April result given adequate supplies, and the same brand’s Punto and Citroen’s C3 were the only other class entrants. The latter’s sales were down 25 pert cent in April, but the C3 is still the second most popular in its class so far this year (15.4%) – ahead of 500 and Punto, but behind the 207, which holds 60.8 per cent segment share YTD.

No fewer than 3722 Corolla sales in April (up 69.0% month-on-month, for a 20.7% market share) made it easily Australia’s top-selling small car. Second was the Mazda3, which found 2811 customers to give it a 15.6 per cent segment share and the best month of Mazda3 sales ever.

Honda’s Civic was third best with 1619 sales (9.0%), followed by Ford’s Focus (1465 sales, 8.1%) and Mitsubishi’s Lancer (1317, 7.3%).

YTD, the Corolla holds a 20.5 per cent share of the small car segment, ahead of Mazda3 (15.1%), Civic (8.6%), Lancer (8.2%) and Focus (7.7%). YTD, small-car sales are up 5042 or 6.8 per cent.

Of the seven small cars priced over $40,000, April saw almost a dead-heat between Mini’s Cooper (141 sales, 23.3%) and BMW’s 1 Series (137, 22.6%), with Audi’s A3 (114, 18.8%), the Mercedes-Benz B-class (93, 15.4%) and a tie for fifth between the Bens A-class and Volvo C30 (48 sales apiece for a 7.9 per cent segment share).

April’s mainstream mid-size segment trophy again went to Toyota’s Camry, which scored 2137 buyers (up 8.2 per cent on April 2007) and a 38.4 per cent segment share. There’s fresh air between the Camry and the new Mazda6, which was down 6.7 per cent for the month but still posted 942 April sales for a 16.9 per cent segment share.

Subaru’s Liberty (478, 8.6%) found about half as many buyers again, with Ford’s new Mondeo netting 329 sales and 5.9 per cent of the segment. Fifth place was shared equally between Volkswagen’s Passat (290) and Honda’s aged Accord Euro (288 – down 36.6% on April 2007), both of which held a 5.2 per cent segment share.

YTD, the order is Camry (33.0%), Mazda6 (16.9%), Liberty (10.9%), Accord Euro (8.0%) and Mondeo (6.3%). The medium car segment is up 884 sales or 3.1 per cent so far in 2008.

Of the medium models priced over $60,000 the new Mercedes-Benz C-class was a runaway winner with 706 sales and a 39.4 per cent segment share, ahead of Audi’s new A4 (410, 22.9%), BMW’s 3 Series (334, 18.6%) and the Lexus IS250 (316, 17.6%).

YTD, the C-class still holds a lion’s share 36.7 per cent share, ahead of 3 Series (24.1%), IS250 (18.9%) and A4 (18.8%).

The traditional large-car battle was again easily won by the Commodore, albeit with only 3324 sales in April (19.6 per cent down on the same month last year) for a 39.7 per cent segment share. By its own admission, Holden says the VE sedan’s 18.6 per cent April sales slump was “disappointing” but points out it was still 10 per cent up on the April 2006 Commodore number when the VZ was in run-out.

Ford’s Falcon found just 1884 buyers (22.5%) – only 23 more than Toyota’s Aurion (1861 sales, 22.2%). Falcon was down 16.5 per cent in April, while Aurion was up 8.5 per cent. Honda sold 935 Accords last month for an 11.3 per cent monthly share.

YTD Holden has sold 14,834 Commodores for a 42.3 per cent share of the large-car segment – down from its 19,494 and 44.6 per cent YTD 2007 figures. Falcon (7978, 22.8%) holds a more solid break over Aurion (7217, 20.6%), but remains 24.5 per cent down YTD, while Aurion is 7.8 per cent up.

Accord has now overtaken Mitsubishi’s discontinued 380 with 2441 and a 7.0 per cent share, but remains 9.7 per cent down year-on-year. Like Ford with its new FG Falcon in May, Holden expects its 60th anniversary special to spike Commodore sales in the same month. YTD, the large car segment is down 9215 sales or 20.1 per cent.

In the large-car over $70,000 stakes, BMW’s 5 Series bounced back to find 121 buyers (a huge 365.4 per cent jump on April 2007 sales) for a 36.3 per cent segment share in April, and now moves one sales ahead of its nemesis, the Mercedes-Benz E-class, in terms of sales for the year.

The latter found 84 buyers and a 25.2% segment share in April (when its sales were 53.3 per cent down), and lies one car adrift of the 5 Series YTD – 444/27.4% to 445/27.5%. There’s daylight to the Lexus GS, which won 46 buyers and a 13.8 per cent share in April, when its sales were 24.3 per cent up, but the A6 still holds out third place with a 13.3 per cent share versus the GS’ 10.5.

The upper large segment saw Holden’s Caprice sales spike to lead the class with 145 sales – 29.3 per cent down on April 2007 but enough to give it a 40.4 per cent segment share for the month. Chrysler’s 300C (117 sales, 32.6%) and the Holden Statesman (86, 24.0%) filled the top three, but in YTD terms (605, 34.3%) still lies a close second to Caprice (668, 37.9%), with 300C (424, 24.0%) third.

YTD, the 300C is 33.0% down, with Statesman and Caprice down 16.0 and 14.8 per cent down respectively. Ford sold 11 examples of its discontinued Fairlane. The segment is down 1002 cars or 32.5 per cent on 2007 figures.

Sales of the Mercedes-Benz S-class may well have been 22.9 per cent down in April, but it still scored 37 well-heeled customers to easily top the rarefied upper large over $100,000 segment with a 39.4 per cent share. Lexus shifted 26 examples of its new LS for a 27.7 per cent share, while BMW sold as many 7 Series variants as Bentley did overall (12, for a 12.8 per cent share, which was 140 per cent up for the month in the BMW’s case.

YTD, the S-class is unassailable with a 33.5 per cent share, ahead of LS (24.8%), 7 Series (16.2%) and Bentley (11.6%). With just three sales in April, Jaguar’s XJ lies ahead of only Rolls-Royce and Maybach in YTD terms, 11 versus six and one respectively.

Kia’s Carnival was Australia’s top-selling people-mover in April (368 sales, 33.9%) share), ahead of Toyota’s Tarago (214, 19.7%), Honda’s Odyssey (122, 11.2%) and the new Kia Rondo (121, 11.1%).

The top three is identical in YTD terms, with Carnival holding down 31.3% of the segment, ahead of Tarago (23.2%), Odyssey (15.9%), Toyota’s Avensis (9.2%) and Mitsubishi’s Grandis (4.9%). People-mover sales are down 852 units or 16.3 per cent in 2008.

Of the over $55,000 people-movers, Volkswagen found 30 new Multivan homes for a big 49.2 per cent share, ahead of Chrysler’s new Voyager (14, 23.0%), and a half-dozen sales apiece by VW’s Kombi Beach and the Benz Viano and Vito wagon. YTD, the Multivan holds out the Voyager, with a 37.6 to 34.2 per cent advantage.

An unrivalled 123.5 per cent sales spurt month-on-month in April by VW’s Eos convertible (190 sales, 27.4%) saw it collect the “sports car” gong, with Holden’s Astra Convertible (104, 15.0%) also 23.8 per cent up.

With the exception of Alfa Romeo’s Spider and the VW Beetle Cabrio, every other entrant’s sales dived in April, when Mazda’s MX-5 (59 sales) placed third, Nissan’s 350Z (44) fourth and Peugeot’s 207 Convertible (42) fifth.

YTD, the Eos commands the class with a 24.2 per cent share, ahead of Astra Convertible (10.5%) and MX-5 (9.6%), but sports car sales are down 354 or 5.6 per cent so far this year.

BMW’s 3 Series Coupe/Convertible was an effortless over $80,000 sports car class winner with 262 sales and a 52.1 per cent share, and now holds an even bigger 41.6 per cent share YTD. Audi’s TT was the next most popular for the month and YTD (17.9%), as was the Mercedes CLK coupe/convertible (14.5%).

The sports car over $200,000 field took less of a hit, with Porsche’s evergreen 911 claiming the monthly (44) and YTD (196) awards ahead of Maserati, which found 24 homes in April (300% up) and 88 so far this year, putting it 109.5 per cent up YTD. Ferrari is next in class with 15 April sales and 60 2008 sales, ahead of Audi’s R8 (11 and 52).

Total passenger car sales of 203,085 units is down by 1607 vehicles or 0.8 per cent on 2007 figures.

Toyota’s RAV4 again knocked off Subaru’s new Forester in April (1191 to 1107 sales), the pair streaking away from the compact SUV pack with Mitsubishi’s Outlander a surprise third with 824 sales.

Nissan’s new X-Trail scored just 757 buyers and the Honda CR-V just 578 – 32.9 per cent down. The RAV holds sway YTD with a 16.9 per cent share, ahead of CR-V (13.9%), Forester (12.7%), X-Trail (11.6) and Outlander (9.9%).

The medium SUV battle saw Toyota’s Kluger (1268 sales in April) post a 395.3 per cent sales storm to defeat the same brand’s Prado (1157) and Ford’s Territory (1073), with Holden’s Captiva gaining 909 buyers and Mitsubishi’s Pajero fifth with 553 sales.

YTD, the Kluger’s 17.8 per cent segment share has now surpassed that of the homegrown Territory (17.1%), as well as the Prado (16.7%), Captiva (13.5%) and Pajero (7.6%) and Mazda’s new CX-9 (6.8%). So far in 2008, Kluger sales are up an astonishing 282.2 per cent up, while Captiva is 26.1 per cent up and Territory is 9.7 per cent down.

In the three-way large SUV tussle, Toyota sold a staggering 1124 LandCruiser wagons in April (76.2% up) to hold a big 68.8 per cent segment share YTD. Curiously, the aged Nissan Patrol’s 2008 sales are also 72.3 per cent up. The Patrol holds a 29.4 per cent share, ahead of Jeep’s third-placed Commander (1.8%).

The Lexus RX (356 April sales) won a tight race with BMW’s X5 (351) to last month’s sales honours, with similarly close also-rans in Land Rover’s Discovery (130), the Mercedes M-class (125), Volvo’s XC90 (122), the Range Rover Sport (113) and the new Lexus LX (105).

YTD, the X5 (1295 sales, 18.6%), remains dominant over RX (14.7%), Discovery (9.3%), XC90 (8.1%) and Audi’s Q7 (7.3%). Overall YTD, the SUV market is up 9933 sales or 16.3 per cent on 2007 levels, with medium SUV up 24.4 per cent, large SUV up 40.1 per cent compact SUV up 5.8 per cent and luxury SUV sales up 18.6 per cent.

In the light commercial arena, Toyota’s HiAce Bus gathered 360 buyers in April and holds a near-monopoly 96.7 per cent YTD share of the bus segment, while the HiAce Van was similarly dominant with 955 sales and a 41.7 per cent share of the van category. It holds a similar share YTD – more than double that of Mitsubishi’s Express.

Finally, the two utility segments were both dominated by HiLux last month, when its 4x2 sales were up 24.2 per cent and its 4x4 sales were up 29.5 per cent. YTD, HiLux holds a 24.3 per cent share of the 4x2 segment (in which it’s up 4.3%) and a 27.9 per cent share of the 4x4 segment (in which it’s up 5.7%).

Also-rans in the 4x2 ute segment were the Holden Ute, sales of which were up 49.1 per cent in April, when it claimed (20.2 per cent of the segment), and the Falcon ute, which narrowly outsold the same brand’s Ranger in June (877 versus 800 sales) and holds a 13.9 per cent YTD share, with Ranger fourth on 12.6 per cent. Holden says that VE sedan and ute sales combined are just 2.0 per cent down YTD.

Also-rans in the 4x4 ute segment were the Navara 4x4, which found 1559 sales in April for a 20.5 per cent segment share and holds a 20.2 per cent YTD segment share. Third in April with 1013 sales was Nissan’s Navara, which holds a YTD segment share of 12.5 per cent share – narrowly ahead of the 12.0 per cent YTD share held by Mitsubishi’s Triton.

A YTD total of 347,514 vehicles is 5.1 per cent or vehicle sales ahead of 2007 levels, equating to a seasonally adjusted running rate of 1.094 million vehicles in 2008.

April Top 10:
Rank Make Sales % Share
1 Toyota 81,062 23.3%
2 Holden 44,037 12.7%
3 Ford 34,533 9.9%
4 Mazda 28,439 8.2%
5 Mitsubishi 21,697 6.2%
6 Nissan 20,375 5.9%
7 Honda 19,448 5.6%
8 Hyundai 15,058 4.3%
9 Subaru 13,473 3.9%
10 Volkswagen 10,290 3.0%

Read more:

March VFACTS: Corolla knocks off Commodore

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