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News - VFACTS - Sales 2012

July VFACTS: Holden Cruze sales slide

Cruze misfire: Sales of Holden’s previously strong-selling locally built Cruze small car unexpectedly fell 40 per cent in July.

High Australian dollar gives embattled local car-makers sales headaches

3 Aug 2012

STRONG sales for the Toyota Camry in July could not wholly conceal another poor month for the embattled Australian car industry as its two recent standouts – the Holden Cruze small car and Ford Territory SUV – unexpectedly went backwards in an otherwise record new-car market.

According to VFACTS sales figures released today, Australians bought 86,641 new vehicles last month – 7.0 per cent more than a year ago and a record for July – but the strong Australian dollar saw consumers favouring imports.

With Australia’s traditional large cars continuing to freefall – Commodore was down 32.4 per cent against the same month last year and Falcon was down 48.7 per cent – and mounting speculation about the viability of local production, the homegrown industry needed some good news and discovered it was hard to find.

The Toyota Camry has been selling well since the new model was launched late last year and was again well ahead in July, up 29.4 per cent (just ahead of its year-to-date growth average), but both Cruze and Territory dropped in market segments that were stronger than last year.

Cruze sales were down some 40.0 per cent to just 1875 units – the small car’s worst month since September 2009, 18 months before local production commenced – while the small-car segment overall rose 3.3 per cent.

106 center imageFrom top: Toyota Camry and Prius Nissan Dualis Holden Commodore Ford Territory and Falcon.

Territory sales dropped by 25.0 per cent in July to 1084 while the large SUV segment overall increased by some 26.1 per cent as buyers turned to imported vehicles such as the Toyota Prado (up 116.0 per cent to 1415), Toyota Kluger (up 77.7 per cent to 1114), Holden Captiva 7 (up 17.1 per cent 896) and even the Jeep Grand Cherokee (up some 163.5 per cent to 672).

Holden executive director of sales, marketing and aftersales John Elsworth told GoAuto the strength of the Australian dollar, combined with aggressive marketing by importers, combined to make life very difficult for the local models like the Cruze.

“It’s a very aggressive market from a competitive point of view and there are lots of brands throwing lots of money around,” he said.

“With the strong Aussie dollar, the importers have a competitive advantage and, though I’m no expert on exchange rates, that’s not going to change in the short term.” Mr Elsworth said the executive team was trying to keep Holden profitable, indicating the company would not be slashing prices to buy back market share, but promised responsive action in the near future.

“It’s pretty tough building Australian cars when the dollar is so strong, but we’re not going to sit on our hands,” he said.

“I think you will see some pretty interesting stuff from Holden in the coming weeks.” As GoAuto reported yesterday, the traditional Australian large cars were out of favour with buyers.

Ford’s Falcon failed to crack 1000 sales for the month, recording its second-worst month on record with only 941 sales (down 48.7 per cent), while the Falcon Ute dropped 12.6 per cent to 397 units.

Holden Commodore recorded its third-worst sales month, down 32.4 per cent with 2399 sales, beating only January and April this year.

Year-to-date, Falcon sales are down 28.7 per cent and Commodore is down 25.7 per cent.

Toyota Camry sales are up 23.8 per cent this year, with July seeing a rise of 29.4 per cent to 1775, but the even newer six-cylinder version, the Aurion, is doing little better than its all-Australian counterparts with sales down 31.1 per cent in July and 9.1 per cent YTD.

Toyota seems to have put its 2011 supply problems well and truly behind it, snapping up 20.5 per cent of the total July market with 17,780 sales (up 37.0 per cent), taking its YTD total to 123,815 (up 26.2 per cent) for a 19.5 per cent market share – well ahead of Holden (10.3 per cent) and Mazda (9.5 per cent).

Toyota’s big SUVs and one-tonne utes led the way for the brand, with Kluger and Prado well-supported by LandCruiser (up 34.7 per cent) and HiLux (32.3 per cent).

With supply now catching up with back-orders, HiLux was Australia’s top-selling vehicle for the fourth month in succession, again beating the Mazda3 (4163 to 3355).

Prius hybrid sales jumped from 24 units in July last year to 377 last month following the recent launches of the Prius C and Prius V, while the 86 sportscar notched up 315 sales to follow up its opening month sales of 414 in June.

Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing Matthew Callachor said the company had been boosted by its new-model releases, which have also included Camry, Aurion and the Yaris light car (up 35.4 per cent to overtake the Mazda2 for segment leadership).

“These launches, as well as Toyota’s quicker-than-expected recovery from last year’s natural disasters, have underpinned the growth in sales this year,” said Mr Callachor.

“Another element underpinning Toyota’s sales success is the capped-price servicing on all new vehicles.” The biggest growth segment in July was again small SUVs, sales of which increased by 50 per cent for the month, keeping YTD growth above 60 per cent.

Nissan Australia’s headline-grabbing one-week offer of 1.0 per cent helped the segment-leading Dualis record a 77 per cent increase to 1183 sales for the month, extending its lead over the Hyundai ix35 and Subaru XV.

The low-finance offer kept Nissan dealers very busy for the week of the offer, but Nissan’s overall gain in July of 18.2 per cent was only slightly ahead of its 17.4 per cent growth rate for the first six months of the year.

Nissan’s strong sales this year have seen it break clear in the battle for sixth place in the Australian market behind Toyota, Holden, Mazda, Hyundai and Ford.

However, the contest for seventh took an interesting turn in July with Volkswagen (up 29.2 per cent YTD) beating Mitsubishi (down 5.2 per cent YTD) for the second month this year.

Subaru remained in ninth spot after a static July result, with the new XV making up for losses across the rest of the line-up, but extended its lead over Honda.

Honda also experienced losses across the board with a single exception – the new Civic, which was up some 52.8 per cent to 917 sales, lifting it up to sixth in the competitive small-car segment (behind Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai i30, Cruze and Ford Focus).

Although the overall July sales total was down 29.9 per cent on the traditionally strong June, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries reports that it was actually 0.8 per cent stronger on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The market is 9.9 per cent ahead of 2011, putting it on schedule to achieve 1.083 million sales by the end of the year.

Passenger car sales were down 5.1 per cent in July, but SUVs were up 23.0 per cent and light trucks (utes) were up 25.6 per cent.

VFACTS July 2012:
Brand Sales Share %
Toyota 17,780 20.5
Holden 8936 10.3
Mazda 7951 9.2
Hyundai 7607 8.8
Ford 6903 8.0
Nissan 6155 7.1
Volkswagen 3964 4.6
Mitsubishi 3428 4.0
Subaru 3023 3.5
Honda 2869 3.3

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