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VFACTS: Million motor market - and more to come

Winner: Holden's Commodore was Australia's top-selling car for the 15th consecutive year, helped by strong sales of its popular Sportwagon model.

Sales record tipped for 2011 after Aussie car market hits top gear in 2010

6 Jan 2011

AUSTRALIA'S motor market blasted back through the million-vehicle barrier with a 10.5 per cent sales rise last year – and is tipped to go even higher in 2011.

Shaking off remnants of the global financial crisis, car companies registered 1.035 million vehicles in 2010, up from 937,000 in 2009, making 2010 the second best sales year in automotive history.

Some pundits believe there is a strong chance the market could crack a record 1.05 million units this year - barring another economic hiccup - bettering the previous record of 1.049 million units in 2008.

That would take the Australian new-vehicle market above a million units for the third time in four years.

Official VFACTS figures released today by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) show private buyers re-entered the market in a big way in 2010, with sports utility vehicles (SUVs) their preferred weapon of choice.

SUV sales leaped 25 per cent in 2010, with the compact variety rocketing up 36.6 per cent.

More than one in every five vehicles sold in Australia in 2010 was an SUV, with sales of the versatile vehicles surpassing 200,000 units for the first time. Total SUV sales hit 235,285 units – up from 188,153 vehicles in 2009.

Passenger cars enjoyed a sales lift of 9.5 per cent, to 592,122, in the 12 months to December 31, but light commercial vehicle sales fell by 0.8 per cent, mainly as a result of a sales hangover from government business tax incentives that boosted sales in 2009.

106 center imageFrom top: Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Nissan Micra, Holden Cruze and FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar.

Mazda, Hyundai, Subaru, Volkswagen and BMW were among the companies claiming full-year sales records, as importers made plenty of hay in the $A exchange rate sunshine.

Toyota was the sales champion for the eighth consecutive year, riding both the SUV boom and renewed interest in its locally made Camry with its hybrid version.

Toyota again achieved more than 200,000 sales, coming in at 214,718 – up 6.8 per cent on last year but short of its 238,983 sales in 2008.

However, Toyota’s market share slipped slightly, from 21.4 per cent in 2009 to 20.7 per cent last year, in the face of hot market action from rivals.

Toyota Australia’s senior executive director of sales and marketing, David Buttner, blamed Toyota’s lack of new-model activity for its market share slip in 2010, adding that the company was about to enter a major new-model cycle that he believed would help to push Toyota towards its long-term goal of 25 per cent market share.

Toyota topped the small car, medium car, SUV and light truck segments, with its Corolla, Camry, Prado and HiLux leading the way.

Holden again achieved second place in the market, becoming the only local manufacturer to exceed the average market growth by lifting its sales 11.2 per cent to 132,923 units.

Holden was buoyed by a big rise in popularity of its Korean imports, especially the Cruze small car, sales of which soared 125 per cent over 2009 when the model was still being established in Australia.

As well, sales of the Captiva SUV jumped by more than 4000 units, to 15,511 vehicles, making it the second best-selling SUV behind Toyota’s Prado.

Holden’s local hero, the Commodore, experienced a 3.5 per cent lift in sales, to 45,596 vehicles, as it grabbed the top-selling car crown for the 15th successive year.

Rival Ford was the only top-three player to record a fall in both sales volume and market share, with sales falling by 1.3 per cent, from 96,501 units in 2009 to 95,284 last year.

Ford’s share dived more than one percentage point, to 9.2 per cent, slipping below 10 per cent on an annual basis for the first time in memory.

While Holden’s Commodore large car was up, Ford’s Falcon took a hit, down 4.9 per cent to 29,516 vehicles.

To rub salt into the wound, the Commodore outsold the Falcon two to one in December, with the big Holden taking half of the large car segment.

The once-dominant Falcon has now slipped to sixth on the list of top-selling vehicles in Australia, behind Hyundai’s i30 small car and not that much in front of Holden’s Cruze, which will be built locally from early 2011.

Former Ford subsidiary Mazda is now just one percentage point behind Ford, sitting in fourth spot on 8.2 per cent market share.

However, while Mazda’s sales volume grew 9.1 per cent to a record 84,777 units, its share slipped a smidgeon from 2009’s 8.3 per cent.

Among Mazda’s highlights were record sales of its popular Mazda3 small car and CX-7 compact SUV.

Fifth-placed Hyundai, which enjoyed the biggest sales volume rise of any major company, garnered a company record 80,038 sales – up a massive 26.6 per cent on 2009’s result.

Its biggest volume growth contributor was the i30 (29,772), which came third in the small-car class behind the long-standing leader, the Toyota Corolla (41,632), which was itself runner-up to the Commodore for overall sales honours, and the Mazda3.

Sixth-placed Nissan came home with a wet sail in 2009, thanks to the arrival of its new Micra light car which helped to lift Nissan sales by a healthy 18.5 per cent, to 62,676 units.

In doing so, Nissan tipped Mitsubishi back to seventh place by the barest of margins – just 180 vehicles.

However, Mitsubishi can take solace from its 9.6 per cent sales rise, to 62,496 units.

Like Toyota, most of Mitsubishi’s growth came from its strong SUV range, led by the venerable Pajero, sales of which soared 32.5 per cent.

Like Ford, Honda suffered a dive in both volume and share in 2010, despite a 40 per cent rise in sales of its CR-V compact SUV.

Honda sales slipped 2.6 per cent, to 40,375 units, but the Japanese importer managed to hang on to eighth place by the margin of just 350 vehicles from Subaru (40,025).

Both were accorded a market share of 3.9 per cent.

However, both of these companies will be feeling the hot breath of German rival Volkswagen on the back of their necks after VW lifted its sales by 26.4 per cent in 2010, to 38,016 units.

Sales of the new Polo rocketed 127.6 per cent on the arrival of the all-new model last year, while Golf and Tiguan also increased their penetration.

With VW’s new ute set for imminent release, the company is poised for further gains in 2011.

Announcing the 2010 sales data, FCAI executive director Andrew McKellar described the result as an exceptional outcome, given the challenges of higher interest rates, political uncertainty and withdrawal of federal government market stimulus at the end of 2009.

“Despite all these influences, the industry has achieved its second highest result on record and achieved more than one-million sales for the third time ever,” he said.

“This is an outcome worth celebrating.

“New-vehicle sales continually outperformed other economic indicators for retail spending and business investment throughout the year.” Mr McKellar predicted the bull run in the car market would continue, tipping a 2011 tally of 1.05 million vehicles.

“It is a cautious but optimistic outlook for new vehicle sales,” he said.

“On this basis, we could be in for a record year.” Toyota’s Mr Buttner was a little more caution, predicting a similar 1.035 million market, but added that Mr McKellar’s prediction could be achieved.

2010 top car companies:
Brand Sales Movement Share
Toyota 214,718 +6.8% 20.7%
Holden 132,923 +11.2% 12.8%
Ford 95,284 -1.3% 9.2%
Mazda 84,777 +9.1% 8.2%
Hyundai 80,038 +26.6% 7.7%
Nissan 62,676 +18.5% 6.0%
Mitsubishi 62,496 +9.6% 6.0%
Honda 40,375 -2.6% 3.9%
Subaru 40,025 +9.6% 3.9%
Volkswagen 38,016 +26.4% 3.7%

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