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Private buyers flock to showrooms

Firing: Mitsubishi's Lancer ACTiV special edition helped drive up sales of the small car by 100 per cent in May.

Record May as SUV sales jump 29 per cent, despite easing of business demand

3 Jun 2010

THE Australian new-vehicle industry posted record May sales of 89,218 units as private buyers helped to drive up volumes by 18.3 per cent over the same month last year, eclipsing the previous best May, in 2008, by 578 vehicles.

Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) again led the charge, up 28.9 per cent, with sales of the family friendly compact and medium off-roaders both climbing more than 30 per cent.

Year to date, the Australian market is up 19.9 per cent and on track to comfortably smash back through the million-unit mark by December 31.

Mitsubishi was a winner in May, with sales of its Lancer small car doubling from 1188 units in May last year to 2368 last month, helping the Adelaide-based importer to a whopping 46.4 per cent overall sales gain for the month.

Sales of its SUVs, the Outlander and Pajero, leaped by 80 and 57 per cent respectively.

Toyota retained its crown with 17,832 sales – up 15.2 per cent on May last year, buoyed by a 52.6 per cent jump in Prado SUV sales, making it the nation’s top-selling SUV in May, and a 45 per cent gain in Camry volumes, thanks partly to incremental volume from the new hybrid variant.

106 center imageFrom top: Holden Captiva, Toyota Prado and Holden Cruze.

However, second-placed Holden edged closer, its 11,381 sales in May representing a 24.2 per cent year-on-year gain – the best of the top three players.

Holden’s gain was largely driven by its Korean imports, with sales of its hot-selling Captiva doubling to 1411 units – trouncing Ford’s Territory (1056 vehicles) – and Cruze small car (2484) having its best month.

Aided by a 33 per cent rise in sales of its Fiesta light car, Ford increased its monthly volume by 6.9 per cent, to 9022 units, but nevertheless lost a little more ground to the market leaders.

The battle of the importers in May was won by Mazda, which came fourth overall with 6928 sales (up 14.5 per cent), beating rising star Hyundai’s 6378 units (up 23.2 per cent).

So far this year, however, Hyundai sales have risen 55.5 per cent, even though its new i45 mid-sizer is yet to make a significant mark and the i20 light car is still to come.

Nissan and Mitsubishi are locked in their own battle for sixth place this year, and despite Mitsubishi’s sterling sales lift last month, it still could not catch Nissan, which rode a 26.9 per cent sales increase to 5814 units, driven by improved demand for its small fry – Dualis (up 270 per cent) and Micra (up 58.4 per cent) – and X-Trail compact SUV (up 86.7 per cent).

Subaru - whose 3610 units (up 21.8 per cent) was a May record for the company - pipped long-time rival Honda (3508 vehicles, up 10 per cent), thanks to fresh models in the Subaru line-up compared with the ageing range in Honda showrooms.

Subaru and Honda, however, may have to start looking over their shoulder, as top German importer Volkswagen is fast approaching, up 27.6 per cent in May to 3332 units.

Australia’s top-selling car again was Holden’s Commodore (3899), ahead of Toyota’s HiLux (3665) and Ford’s Falcon, which crept back up the leader board with a 14.5 per cent gain in volume, to 3258 units for the month.

Despite a commendable 45 per cent sales increase over May 2009, Toyota’s locally made Camry’s 1966 sales was only good enough to just squeak into the top 10, trailing vehicles such as the Mazda3, Holden Cruze, Hyundai i30, Mitsubshi Lancer and Nissan Navara.

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) CEO Andrew McKellar said the May market showed that the industry was maintaining strong sales momentum.

“It is encouraging to note that private buyers have returned in larger numbers during May taking over some of the momentum that business buyers have provided over the past year,” he said.

Business demand for light commercial vehicles fell 2.1 per cent in May, reflecting the demise of the federal governments tax depreciation incentives for businesses that were in play at this time last year.

Overall, vehicle sales to businesses were up 4.9 per cent – well behind gains of 27.2 per cent in private sales, 17.8 per cent by government and 128 per cent by rental companies.

Year to date, Toyota sales are up 18.4 per cent, Holden has gained 24.6 per cent and Ford has lifted 8.1 per cent.

Top 10 brands May 2010:
1. Toyota 17,832
2. Holden 11,381
3. Ford 9022
4. Mazda 6928
5. Hyundai 6378
6. Nissan 5814
7. Mitsubishi 5742
8. Subaru 3610
9. Honda 3501
10. Volkswagen 3332

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