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VFACTS: Local sedans pole-axed

Downward slope: The Holden Commodore slipped 25 per cent last month to just 2808 sales - down almost 70 per cent on its monthly tally a decade ago.

Local large sedans hit the wall in November ahead of December model rev-up

5 Dec 2011

A SLUMP in sales of traditional Australian-made sedans last month is unlikely to prevent the motor industry from achieving the magic million in annual vehicle sales for the fourth time in five years.

The Ford Falcon, Toyota Camry and Holden Commodore all took hits in the showroom in November, with the Falcon and Camry both taking a dive to historically low levels due to stock shortages ahead of new models due this month.

The market carried on regardless, with sales up 1.5 per cent on the same month last year, to 88,654 vehicles – the second-highest November tally on record after 2007’s 92,801 units – putting the industry within 75,000 registrations of the million-unit landmark in 2011, according to the latest data from VFACTS.

However, the industry is likely to fall short of last year’s full-year tally of 1,035,574 cars and commercial vehicles, as it goes into the final month with a 23,009 shortfall, down 2.4 per cent on the same period in 2010.

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Ian Chalmers said the industry’s sales had been trending above 2010 levels for the past four months.

“This suggests improving consumer confidence in Australia’s economic prospects,” Mr Chalmers said.

106 center imageFrom top: Toyota Corolla, Toyota HiLux, Mazda3, run-out Toyota Camry, Holden Barina.

“Many car brands have been proactive in appealing to car buyers by offering lower prices, improved equipment and low finance rates. Consumers are responding positively to the value that is widely on offer.”

The Ford Falcon, which is in run-out ahead of a facelifted FG Mk II launch in late December, fell out of the top 10 for the first time in its history last month.

And sales of the Toyota Camry – which will get a full-model change this month – plunged 56.2 per cent to just 978 sales as dwindling stocks ran out as a result of rolling strikes at the Altona plant in Victoria.

Even the top-selling Australian car for the past 15 years, the Holden Commodore, slipped 25 per cent, to just 2808 sales in November – down almost 70 per cent on its monthly tally a decade ago.

The big Holden could manage only fourth spot in November sales, behind the imported Toyota Corolla (3731 units), Mazda3 (3480) and Toyota HiLux (3332), and faces an uphill battle with the Mazda3 to retain its annual crown, with the Mazda leading 38,104 to 37,803.

The Corolla was one of several Toyota models to regain momentum after a disastrous six months in which production was beset by the Japanese earthquake, Thai floods and local industrial action.

Although Toyota’s 17,436 sales in November represented a 12.4 per cent decline on the same month of 2010, it was a marked improvement over recent months and comfortably gave it market leadership.

Toyota’s market share improved to 19.7 per cent – still 3.1 percentage points shy of a year ago – while its year-to-date share picked up ground to 17.9 per cent.

Second-placed Holden was one of the big losers in November, with sales falling 14 per cent to 9761 units for the month, representing an 11 per cent share – down from 13 per cent in the corresponding month last year.

A bright spot for the lion brand was a 36.5 per cent lift in Barina sales, and 12 per cent growth in Captiva 5 SUV volumes, but they were offset by falling volumes for most other models.

Surprisingly, sales of the locally made Cruze small car fell, by 12.1 per cent to 2393 units in November, even though Holden launched its much-vaunted hatchback version last month.

Ford was the only local manufacturer to claw a sales gain last month, up 3.3 per cent to 8103 vehicles and 9.1 per cent share, thanks mainly to a healthy 82.9 per cent gain for the recently facelifted Territory (1776) and a whopping 108 per cent lift in Mondeo volume (632).

Territory was the nation’s top-selling SUV for the month and even outsold Falcon (1483).

Ford has already started production of its facelifted FG Mark II that should hit showrooms in late December, in six-cylinder form at least, but that is unlikely to have much bearing on its overall 2011 result.

Former Ford subsidiary Mazda continues to breathe down Ford’s neck, achieving 8031 sales in November – just 73 fewer than the Blue Oval brand – and now trails Ford by fewer than 3000 units, 84,519 to 80,985, year-to-date.

However, Hyundai is still right in the hunt as well, its 7514 units in November taking it to 80,150 sales for the year, only 835 units behind Mazda.

Mazda kept its South Korean rival out of fourth position on the 2011 ladder with a 24.1 per cent jump in November sales, with strong growth in all of its volume sellers.

Hyundai also made healthy growth, with November sales up 20.8 per cent to 7514, with all mainstream models contributing gains to help make up for the loss of Getz sales.

Rounding out the top 10 last month were Nissan, in sixth place with 5834 sales (up 10.8 per cent), followed by Mitsubishi on 5121 (up 2.1 per cent), Volkswagen on 3823 (up 11.6 per cent), Subaru on 2404 (down 28.8 per cent) and Kia on 2344 (up 18.2 per cent).

Honda again lost both volume and share to slip of out the top 10, with sales down 10.2 per cent to 2233 units.

The compact SUV segment again led the way in November sales, outselling the light-car segment – 11,441 to 11,407 – to rank as the second-largest vehicle class behind small cars.

Thanks to Territory, the medium SUV market made headway, up 16.8 per cent, while luxury SUV sales soared 36.1 per cent.

Passenger-car volume was down 5.5 cent on the same month last year, while SUVs were up 16.2 per cent and light commercials rose 3.4 per cent.

VFACTS November 2011:
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