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VFACTS: LCV sales enter unknown territory

Giant seller: The Toyota HiLux was not only Australia's best-selling light truck in 2009 but one of the best-selling vehicles outright.

As tax breaks dry up, light truck sales face potential hangover in 2010

8 Jan 2010

THE big question for the Australian light commercial vehicle industry is: what happens now that the federal government’s small-business tax breaks have dried up?These anti-recession tax depreciation incentives – which ended on December 31 – helped to propel the light truck segment up the charts in 2009, as tradies, farmers and ordinary blokes jumped in to grab a new vehicle with side benefits.

The incentives did the trick, to the point where LCVs ended the year only 2.1 per cent down on 2008 volumes – better than the 9.4 per cent slump by passenger cars and even superior to the 3.4 per cent fall in SUV sales.

While LCV sales are expected to hold up in the first couple of months of 2010 as motor companies play catch up with the avalanche of orders that poured in before the deadline, what happens next is less clear.

The industry is hoping the general recovery in the economy and business climate will generate more natural growth.

In 2009, the light truck and van market again was a case of Toyota first and daylight second, as it helped itself to a 30.5 per cent market share with total sales of 55,234 units.

Mind you, that was down on its 2008 volume and share (62,091 and 33.6 per cent), but well ahead of second-placed Ford (28,982 units and 16 per cent share) and Holden (27,971 units, 15.4 per cent share).

Toyota’s HiLux again stood like a giant over the market, accounting for 38,455 units over the 12 months – about double the score of its nearest one-tonne competitors, the Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton.

The HiLux was so dominant that it even knocked off the Holden Commodore as Australia’s best-selling vehicle in June and November, finishing the year in third place behind the Commodore and the Toyota Corolla.

106 center imageLeft: Toyota Hiace.

Here is GoAuto’s round up of the LCV market in 2009, by segment:4x2 utes and cab-chassis

THE plain-Jane two-wheel-drive ute market has been losing ground to the sexier 4x4 beasts in recent years, and the slide continued in 2009 as 4x2 ute sales slipped 7.4 per cent, compared with 3.0 per cent sales growth by the 4x4 variety.

Nevertheless, the 4x2 segment still accounted for a handsome 67,393 units in 2009, with Toyota HiLux again sailing away with first prize with 22.8 per cent share from 15,360 sales.

The locally-made utes – the Ford Falcon Ute and Holden Ute – battled it out for second place, with the Blue Oval contender pipping the General’s weapon to the post, 12,180 units to 12,104.

The best of the others were the Mitsubishi Triton (7625) and Mazda BT-50 (5830). The latter stirred the pot with a 32.7 per cent sales increase over 2008, beating the related Ford Ranger version, which fell 29.1 per cent to 5699 sales.

4x4 utes and cab-chassis

NOW the biggest segment under the LCV banner, four-wheel-drive utes accounted for 85,813 sales in 2009 – up three per cent.

As with the 4x2 segment, the Toyota HiLux was the market heavyweight, notching 23,097 sales and 26.9 per cent share to put rivals in the shade.

The Nissan Navara held its head up with a 16,455-unit performance, followed by the Holden Colorado (nee Rodeo) with 11,002 hard-won sales.

Third was the Mitsubishi Triton, which zoomed upwards by 12.7 per cent to 10,557 sales.


ANOTHER win here – again – to Toyota whose Hiace outsold its nearest three competitors combined.

The score was Hiace 8923 units, Hyundai iLOAD 3745, Mitsubishi Express 2275 and Ford Transit 2213.

Once again, it was the Korean elevation to serious contention that grabs attention here, with iLOAD sales up 87.3 per cent to leapfrog everybody except Hiace.

Overall, the tax breaks helped this segment too, with sales up 1.1 per cent by December 31, to 24,557 units.

Light buses

Toyota Hiace Bus by a knockout over Ford Transit Bus, 2115 to 144.

Trucks 2.5-3.5 GVM

WITH a superior finish to the year in December, Kia broke Ford hearts with a come-from-behind win over last year’s champ in this tiny segment. The bottom line was Kia K2900 (439 units) to Ford Transit C/C’s 426.

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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