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News - VFACTS - Sales 2010 - March

March motor market soars to a record

Numero uno: Holden's Commodore was Australia's best seller last month as the market stormed to a March record.

Car industry on million-unit pace as hail bargains and economy lift sales to record

7 Apr 2010

THE Australian new motor vehicle market soared to a March record 94,744 sales last month, putting the industry on track to crack the one-million vehicle mark for the first time since 2008, according to official VFACTS figures released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).

Boosted by a combination of massive sales of hail-damaged cars in Victoria, the remnants of federal government tax incentives and a generally improving economy, sales of cars and trucks jumped 25.2 per cent over March 2009 when the industry was mired in the depths of the global financial crisis.

The monthly sales tally eclipsed the previous March record of 94,392 vehicles in 2007, and after three months, the market is running 18.2 per cent or 38,857 vehicles ahead of last year, on 251,827 units.

In storm-hit Victoria, new vehicle sales rocketed 35.3 per cent as dozens of Melbourne dealers dumped hail-damaged cars at bargain-basement prices in the wake of devastating ‘White Saturday’ storms on March 6.

By comparison, vehicle sales in New South Wales and Queensland were up 23.5 and 20.8 per cent respectively.

Toyota, with 20,306 sales for the month (up 22.3 per cent), topped the sales charts for the 60th consecutive month, ahead of Holden (11,795 units, up 28.4 per cent) and Ford (8092 units, up 6.9 per cent).

But Hyundai again was the big mover, up 58.9 per cent to a company March record 7797 units, placing it just ahead of Mazda (7453 units, up 21.9 per cent) and nipping at Ford’s heels, for both the month and year to date.

106 center image From top: Nissan Navara, Hyundai i30 and Toyota Prado.

Hyundai’s charge was led by its i30 small car, which notched up a record 3678 sales to grab third spot on the top-sellers’ list behind perennial leader Holden Commodore (4209 units) and Toyota’s HiLux (3935).

The March performance by Hyundai was the Korean importer’s best month since the factory took over the tiller for the Australian distributorship in 2003, and the second best since the brand was established in Australia by Bond Motor in 1986.

SUV sales led the charge in March increasing by 44.1 per cent, followed by passenger cars (up 23.5 per cent), heavy commercials (up 20.2 per cent) and then light commercials (up 12 per cent).

FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar described the industry’s March result as outstanding, providing further evidence that the marketplace was returning to pre-global financial crisis levels.

“Business sales show some signs of easing following the phase out of targeted tax breaks but it is pleasing to see renewed growth from private buyers,” he said.

Rental car sales soared 331.5 per cent in March as rental companies restored ageing fleets to more normal levels.

Toyota was buoyed by the performance of its HiLux and Prado imports. The mid-sized Prado SUV jumped into the top 10 with a record 2087 sales for the month – up 94.7 per cent - at the same time claiming top spot in the SUV ranks usually dominated by smaller, compact SUVs.

HiLux’s 3935 sales in March elevated it to a first quarter record tally (10,213 vehicles).

While Toyota’s locally made Camry enjoyed a 31 per cent increase in volume, to 1985 vehicles, thanks to an incremental gain of 548 Camry Hybrids, it slipped to 12th place on the best-sellers table as imports dominated.

Toyota’s market share for March was 21.4 per cent, down half a percentage point on its share last March, but well ahead of Holden’s 12.4 per cent (up 0.3 percentage points) and Ford’s 8.5 per cent (down 1.47 percentage points).

After three months of 2010, Toyota is running at 20.5 per cent share, compared with Holden’s 13.3 per cent and Ford’s 8.7 per cent.

Toyota Australia’s senior executive director sales and marketing David Buttner said the improving economy and competitive retail offers had helped to drive record sales.

He said last year’s investment allowance bonuses continued to contribute – perhaps by 5000 or more sales across the industry in March alone.

“The underlying level of demand suggests the industry will achieve a full-year market in excess of 950,000 and probably quite a bit higher,” he said.

“At this stage, we continue to believe the market will return above the one-million mark in 2011, although it may come tantalisingly close this year.” Hyundai carved out a market share of 8.4 per cent for the quarter, compared with just 6.0 per cent at the same time last year.

Mazda’s share has slipped marginally, down 0.55 percentage points to 8.4 per cent, while Nissan, has gained 0.16 percentage points, to 6.1 per cent, ahead of Mitsubishi on 5.8 per cent.

Nissan’s March volume grew 49.2 per cent on the back of almost across the board model sales increases, with major gains to its workhorse Navara 4x4 (up 40.9 per cent), Dualis (up 142 per cent), Maxima (up 697 per cent), X-Trail (up 78.6 per cent) and Patrol Wago u (up 65.3 per cent)Honda reversed its fortunes somewhat in March, pushing back above 4000 units – up 24 per cent on March 2009 – to hold its 2010 year-to-date decline to 13.1 per cent.

A jump in CR-V volumes (125 per cent), Jazz (up 38.4 per cent) and Accord Euro (up 33 per cent) were the highlights.

However, Honda is the only marque in the top ten to have dropped volume this year, and its share has slumped from 5.5 per cent last year to just 4.1 per cent.

Some of Ford’s big guns lifted their game last month, with the locally-made Falcon and Territory both up, roughly matching the overall gains of the market.

Mondeo put on a growth spurt, up 57.4 per cent to 455 units for the month, but the big worry remains Focus, which is copping a kicking in the ultra-competitive small-car market, down 44.6 per cent for the month to 808 units.

It has lost 41.9 per cent of sales over the first quarter compared with the same period last year, now ranking only ninth in its market segment.

Despite being pipped by Honda for the month, Subaru enjoyed its best ever March sales (3679 vehicles).

Top 10 makes, March 2010:
Rank Make Sales % Share
1 Toyota 20,306 21.4%
2 Holden 11,795 12.4%
3 Ford 8092 8.5%
4 Hyundai 7797 8.2%
5 Mazda 7453 7.9%
6 Nissan 6558 6.9%
7 Mitsubishi 5556 5.9%
8 Honda 4153 4.4%
9 Subaru 3679 3.9%
10 Volkswagen 3034 3.2%

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