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VFACTS: Ford Falcon languishes in slow April

One the rise: Hyundai's ix35 was one of the success stories for the Korean brand in April sales.

Commodore outsells Falcon two to one as Hyundai moves back into third place

4 May 2011

VEHICLE sales slowed 8.8 per cent in April, with only three of Australia’s top 10 brands registering growth in a month impacted by the combined Easter-ANZAC Day holiday.

Ford sold just 6413 vehicles in its third worst month in memory, with its locally made Falcon contributing 1457 units – down 47.3 per cent on April 2010.

The Blue Oval brand finished the month in fourth place, behind long-time leader Toyota (13,683 vehicles), Holden (9113) and importer Hyundai (6857).

Last month, Falcon was Ford’s only product to exceed 1000 units, as the large car had its most depressed month since January (1157) when the absence of fleet buyers normally drives down sales of the big Ford.

However, Ford’s year-to-date decline of 3.3 per cent compares favourably with local rivals Holden (down 11.1 per cent) and Toyota (down 10 per cent) in a market down 3.2 per cent.

Holden’s Commodore was the nation’s top-selling vehicle with 3075 sales for the month. Its smaller sibling, the Cruze, shifted 2582 units to make it the second-best selling small car after the Mazda3 (3044) and fourth-best selling car overall.

106 center imageTop sellers: Holden Commodore, Toyota Hilux, Mazda3, Holden Cruze.

Ford Australia public affairs director Sinead McAlary told GoAuto that up to 25 per cent of the slowdown in Falcon sales was due to a lack of LPG – which will be rectified in the third quarter of this year after the Falcon EcoLPI launches in July – and that customers who previously bought Falcon wagons were now buying the imported Mondeo equivalent.

She also said the Falcon ute and its Holden equivalent were subject to a shift away from car-based light trucks to Ranger-type one-tonners.

Ford did not expect to benefit from a full month of facelifted Territory sales until June or July, but the brand’s new-model offensive should ease the pain by the end of the year, with the new Focus confirmed for August and the Falcon’s facelift plus the brand new Ranger ute also pencilled in for Q3.

As GoAuto has reported, Ford Australia last month reacted to the decline in Falcon sales with a 20 per cent reduction in production from July and the axing of about 240 jobs across its Broadmeadows and Geelong production facilities.

Ms McAlary said that Ford would continue to match production to demand.

Hyundai took third place in the Australian sales charts for the second time in history, beating Ford to the podium by more than 400 sales to notch up a record-breaking 9.2 per cent market share for the South Korean brand.

Its i30 small car contender racked up 2531 sales, just 51 fewer than the Holden Cruze to make it Australia’s fifth-favourite car in April, while the Getz took a winning 17.2 per cent slice of the light-car market, despite a 21.7 per cent drop in sales.

With 973 sales, the ix35 SUV was just four sales behind the Subaru Forester to become the second-highest selling compact SUV, up 67.8 per cent in April against a mammoth 163.8 per cent rise YTD.

Toyota’s HiLux was the country’s second-best seller, but the effort was not enough to lift the Japanese giant out of the doldrums. April was the brand’s third consecutive month of negative growth this year, and it is down 10 per cent year-to-date.

This month’s Toyota sales were down 18.1 per cent compared with the same time last year, only its HiAce bus and LandCruiser wagon products registering growth – up 11.2 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively.

Year to date, those models have made 6.7 and 10 per cent gains respectively, and the only other Toyotas to increase in sales so far are the Corolla (up 0.3 per cent) and the RAV4s (up 3.7 per cent).

However, Toyota is still 22,942 units ahead of second-placed Holden year-to-date, and April’s figures show it led the medium passenger car, medium SUV, large SUV, hybrid, light truck, light bus and light van segments.

Toyota Australia senior executive director sales and marketing David Buttner said: "Toyota has been the top-selling brand for each of the past 73 months, thanks to our customers who have consistently returned to dealerships for their motoring needs." In a market that shrank 8.8 per cent, SUVs were down 5.6 per cent, furthering their market share. The decline in medium and large SUVs was compensated slightly by gains in the compact and luxury SUV segments.

Likewise the light truck market, which declined 2.2 per cent.

Premium products proved popular, outperforming their mainstream counterparts. The light cars over $25,000 segment grew 37.8 per cent, small cars over $40,000 increased 35.7 per cent, people movers over $55,000 rose 80 per cent and luxury SUVs were up 8.7 per cent.

In each case, the YTD figures proved this to be a trend rather than an April anomaly and overall, premium passenger cars grew 0.5 per cent for the month.

Year-to-date, the Australian market has declined 3.2 per cent, 10,550 fewer vehicles sold compared with last year. In terms passenger cars, which are down six per cent YTD, only the light and upper large segments have registered modest gains of 0.4 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively.

It could be that dealers, used to April being a traditionally slow month, were keeping their powder dry and not discounting to preserve stocks for busier months later in the year when supplies are expected to come under pressure as a knock-on effect of the Japanese earthquake.

FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar said: “It seems likely that the timing of the Easter and ANZAC Day holidays, combined with school holidays has been the major factor contributing to lower sales in the past month.” The large-car segment was down 24.2 per cent, with the locally-built Falcon and Toyota Aurion (down 38.8 per cent for April and down 26.3YTD) registering large drops. Although the Commodore was down slightly, it managed to decline more slowly than the overall market.

The locally built Toyota Camry and Ford Territory were also down 13.8 per cent and 44.8 per cent respectively, leaving only the Cruze as local champion, up 2.7 per cent and 12.3 per cent YTD.

Big jumps were experienced in the SUV marketplace and it was a great month – and a great year so far – for Land Rover, up 19.9 per cent with sales of its Range Rover Sport and Freelander models up 46.9 per cent and 19.4 per cent.

Other luxury SUV contenders including the new Jeep Grand Cherokee and Audi Q7 were up 42.4 per cent and 53.6 per cent respectively, while Mitsubishi’s Triton 4x4 ute was also up 80.7 per cent – against a 40.8 rise YTD.

Honda’s woes continued, a 20.2 per cent drop in April representing its fourth consecutive double-digit decline for the brand, whose sales are down 25.8 per cent so far this year.

The only Honda products making gains this year were the City (up 16.6 per cent for the month and 6.6 per cent YTD) and the Legend (down 66.7 per cent in April but up 5.9 per cent YTD).

Although only three of the top 10 brands registered growth in April, Alfa Romeo, Great Wall, Skoda and SsangYong all had a good month.

Czech brand Skoda sold 123 cars, up 89.2 per cent. Its year-to-date total of 529 units is an increase of 55.6 per cent on the back of strong Octavia sales and booming popularity of the Superb.

Alfa Romeo customers bought 110 cars – including 54 Giuliettas – helping the brand to an 80.3 per cent jump in sales as part of a 24 per cent total rise so far this year.

Great Wall has sold 2365 of its Chinese-built utes and SUVs so far this year, up 30.2 per cent, with April’s result of 711 units representing a 66.1 per cent increase. South Korean SsangYong sales were boosted by the new Korando, of which 34 contributed to its monthly total of 96, an increase of 43.3 per cent.

Other notable sales rises include the Volkswagen Polo, up 307.9 per cent, the Kia Cerato (up 36.4 per cent), Mercedes-Benz B-class (up 45.8 per cent), Ford Mondeo (up 35.1 per cent).

Top ten makes April 2011:
Brand &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Sales &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Movement % Share % &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp
Toyota 13,683 -18.1 18.4
Holden 9,113 -8.5 12.3
Hyundai 6857 +2.0 9.2
Ford 6465 -21.1 8.7
Mazda 6346 -6.7 8.6
Mitsubishi 5281 +9.9 7.1
Nissan 4248 -8.8 5.7
Volkswagen 3032 +6.5 4.1
Subaru 2457 -23.6 3.3
Honda 2445 -20.2 3.3

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