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VFACTS: Toyota wrestles back top spot

Making up ground: Sales of Ford's revised Territory rose 63.6 per cent last month.

Stock drought set to turn to flood as quake-hit Toyota turns on the production tap

3 Aug 2011

MARKET leader Toyota has set about making up lost ground after regaining top spot from Holden on the Australian motor vehicles sales ladder last month in the wake of stock shortages caused by the March earthquake and tsunami.

The Japanese giant – still feeling the effects of the disaster with sales slipping 25 per cent in July – has launched a massive two-month ‘Toyotathon’ sale as cars pour back into showrooms.

While the overall market last month was down just 1.7 per cent on July last year, the locally made Toyota Camry had its worst July for seven years, selling just 1372 vehicles – down 34.5 per cent on July 2010, latest VFACTS figures show.

Toyota’s July month market share was 16 per cent – down from 20.9 per cent in the corresponding month of 2010 and only 2.6 percentage points ahead of Holden’s 13.4 per cent July share.

Toyota Australia's senior executive director sales and marketing David Buttner said customers could look forward to strong availability of Toyota stock for the rest of the year.

"We have more than 20,000 vehicles arriving in both August and September to meet customer orders and support our two-month Toyotathon promotion," he said.

106 center imageFrom top: Holden Cruze, Mazda3, Nissan Micra, Hyundai ix35, Toyota Camry.

"Toyota has recovered more quickly than expected from production disruptions caused by the Japan earthquake and tsunami in March.

"Manufacturing plants supplying vehicles for the Australian market have worked hard to make up lost production.” Overall, the industry has cut its losses as Japanese imports resume and new vehicles such as the revised Ford Territory come on stream, with June’s 11.6 per cent year-on-year decline pared back to a 1.7 per cent slide in July, when the industry shifted 80,991 vehicles.

Vehicle sales are now running just short of the magic million sales pace, with most industry pundits predicting that the market will make that number with ease, barring economic hiccups.

Last month, the only Toyota model to put its nose in front of last July’s figures was the evergreen HiLux light truck, which is made in Thailand. Its 3147 sales in July earned it third place on the Australian list of top sellers, behind the Holden Commodore (3551) and Mazda3 (3290).

Although July Commodore sales were down 6.1 per cent on last year, Holden’s large car has managed to resume its year-to-date lead over the pretender to the throne, the Mazda 3 – 24,583 to 24,501.

The Commodore was well supported by Holden’s other home-grown product, the Cruze small car, which managed more than 3000 sales for the second month in a row to take second place in the small car segment behind the Mazda3.

Holden, which beat stock-strapped Toyota for the first time for years in June, dropped back into its usual second place with 10,819 sales, 2161 units behind Toyota’s 12,980.

The Holden result was up 1.6 per cent on July last year, although it is still running 7.5 per cent down year-to-date.

Holden’s 2011 market share is holding relatively steady at 12.7 per cent, but Toyota’s slice of the market continues to erode, down from 20.3 per cent this time last year to 17 per cent YTD last month.

Ford rode the pent-up demand for its revised Territory to its best monthly result since November last year, selling 7769 units to cement third place on the 2011 sales ladder.

The Ford Territory’s resurgence, to 1445 units and SUV segment leadership last month, helped the Blue Oval to a 5.3 per cent sales gain in July, although Ford sales are down 6.3 per cent year-to-date – slightly worse than the overall market decline of 5.9 per cent for the first seven months of 2011.

While Ford’s imports all prospered in July, its locally made Falcon continued to flounder without its fleet-friendly LPG variant, down 21.6 per cent for the month and a whopping 40.5 per cent for the year.

Ford is now selling only half as many large cars as arch rival Holden, but it has its new Falcon EcoLPI model about to enter service.

South Korean importer Hyundai vaulted back into fourth place in the market in July with 7226 sales, pushing Mazda back to third place (6984).

The two leading importers are now both locked on 50,000 units apiece so far this year – Mazda just in front with 50,780 to Hyundai’s 50,204 – setting up an interesting race for the 2011 importer crown.

Mazda’s Mazda2 was the top-selling light car in the land in July (1421 units), displacing Hyundai’s long-time leader, the Getz, which is in run-out (1094 units) ahead of the launch in the next few weeks of the all-new Hyundai Accent.

Another strong performer in the light car segment was the Nissan Micra, whose 1184 sales in July helped to lift Nissan sales a healthy 12.1 per cent, to 5207 vehicles.

Year-to-date, Nissan is running ahead of the pack, up 4.5 per cent, with most of the gains coming from Micra (up 8.5 per cent) and Pathfinder (up 81.9 per cent).

Nissan took sixth place in July, ahead of Japanese import rival Mitsubishi, whose sales dipped 1.1 per cent, to 4972 vehicles.

The big mover in the industry top 10 was again Volkswagen, with the born-again German marque out-pacing all and sundry with a 17.3 per cent sales gain, to 3428 vehicles and eighth place.

VW is now running 7.7 per cent ahead of its 2010 pace, with big gains coming from Polo, Passat and Touareg. Its top-selling model, the Golf, slipped a little last month, but is still 8.4 per cent up on last year.

Honda bore the fruits of slashed prices and large increase in TV advertising presence with a 3.4 per cent sales rise in July, to 3257 units, putting it back in ninth place, ahead of Subaru, whose sales slipped 7.1 per cent to 3022.

Of the Japanese importers, Suzuki took one of the biggest hits, with sales down 17.2 per cent last month, to 1660 units, compared with 2004 for the same month last year.

Passenger cars continue to feel more heat than other segments, down 4.0 per cent in July and 8.0 per cent for the year so far, while SUVs have resumed their rise, up 1.8 per cent in July. Again, compact SUVs made the most gains, up 3.7 per cent, with sales of Hyundai’s ix35 rising 31.4 per cent, to 1063 vehicles, to take second slot behind the perennial leader, Subaru’s Forester (1081).

Light commercial vehicle sales were down 1.7 per cent in line with the market, reflecting the Japanese-marque production disruption and a few consumer jitters.

FCAI acting chief executive Steve Payne said that while the drop in sales in July was small compared with the same month last year, the overall drop in sales for the year-to-date of 5.9 per cent indicated consumers were continuing to delay new vehicle purchases.

“The supply of vehicles and components from Japan, following the earthquake and tsunami in March, has improved,” he said.

“However, sales of several popular models were still affected by supply constraints.” Mr Payne said the FCAI was expecting sales to return to long-term trends as supply constraints were mitigated.

“We expect annual sales to be around one million vehicles for 2011,” he said.

Top ten makes July 2011:
Brand &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Sales &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Movement % Share % &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp
Toyota 12,980 -24.8 16.0
Holden 10,819 +1.6 13.4
Ford 7769 +5.3 9.6
Hyundai 7226 10.6 8.9
Mazda 6984 -5.3 8.6
Nissan 5207 +12.1 6.4
Mitsubishi 4972 -1.1 6.1
Volkswagen 3428 +17.3 4.2
Honda 3257 3.4 4.0
Subaru 3022 -7.1 3.7

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