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VFACTS: Mazda3 slays the giants

Popular: The Mazda3 small car made a flying start to 2012, trumping all-comers by recording 4045 sales in January.

Local large cars hit the skids as Mazda3 and SUVs take the market higher

3 Feb 2012

MAZDA’S top-selling small car, the Mazda3, outsold all three Australian-made large sedans combined in January as the leading importer took a company record 11 per cent market share to help the overall market to edge up 4.3 per cent, official VFACTS figures show.

The Mazda3 continued where it left off in 2011 by topping the new-car sales charts with 4045 sales last month, blitzing the once dominant Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon that both slipped to an historical low.

Commodore sales slumped 18 per cent, to 2370 units in January, while the big locally made Ford continued its slide by falling 19.5 per cent, to just 931 vehicles – its poorest result in memory.

Holden’s home-grown ‘big six’ was even outsold by its newer locally-made stablemate, the Cruze small car, for the first time (2445) – and probably not the last.

Ford says Falcon sales were impacted by Melbourne’s Christmas Day hail storm that hit its factory car holding yards at Campbellfield, and it has its fingers crossed that the January result is the lull before the EcoBoost four-cylinder engine storm, due to arrive in Falcon in April.

The only locally made large car to gain ground in January was the Toyota Aurion – up 51.2 per cent to 689 sales for the month – but only because Toyota is running out the old model at bargain basement prices ahead of the new generation car in the second quarter.

106 center imageFrom top: Holden Cruze and Commodore, Ford Falcon ute and sedan, Mazda CX-7.

Helped by the raging Aussie dollar, importers drove a 4.3 per cent increase in January sales, to 76,783 units – a result that the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) described as encouraging.

However, the sales figures also underscore the difficulties faced by the three local manufacturers, who are looking to the federal government for continued assistance for survival.

Most of the sales gains in January were made by SUVs, which gained further traction in the market to the tune of a whopping 29.8 per cent.

The big mover in market was Japanese importer Mazda, which traditionally does well in January when private buyers come out to play, while fleet buyers are laying on the beach.

Mazda sales jumped 17.8 per cent to 8479 units in a record January performance for the company that had winners in the small car (Mazda3) and light car (Mazda2) segments.

Its ageing CX-7 even came runner up in the SUV rankings to Toyota’s RAV4.

Mazda finished the month in third place, but came within just 582 vehicle sales of taking second place from Holden, which fended off the challenge thanks mainly to rising sales of its locally assembled Cruze small car (a record at 2445, up 18.7 per cent) and Korean-built Barina light car (1352, up 118 per cent).

While Mazda records tumbled last month, it was not the company’s best month, having topped 9000 units last August.

January market leader was Toyota, which shifted 14,065 vehicles for an 18. 3 per cent share, despite suffering a big decline in sales of its top-ranked HiLux ute due to stock shortages in the wake of the Thai flood disaster.

Sales of the most popular 4x4 HiLux variant slumped 62.8 per cent, to 588 units, to be beaten by the perennial bridesmaid, Nissan’s Navara 4x4 (1580 units), which is sourced from a variety of countries.

But the Navara’s performance could not disguise the impact of the Thai floods on the light truck market, which was hammered down 11.1 per cent as supplies dried up.

One bright spot for Toyota was an increase in sales of its locally built Camry, which achieved 1290 sales – up 22 per cent – as the new-generation model arrived in showrooms from its troubled Altona plant in Melbourne.

The evergreen Toyota Corolla lost ground – down 16.4 per cent to 3383 sales – but still managed to hold on to second place on the best-selling car list after the Mazda3.

Fourth-placed Hyundai marked time last month, with sales up just 1.6 per cent, to 6513 units, but that was still sufficient to hold Ford in fifth place (5838, down 9.0 per cent).

Now it is Nissan that is breathing down Ford’s neck, achieving 5358 sales for the month, up almost 10 per cent on last year.

The biggest improver again in January was the fast-rising Volkswagen, which hit the ball out of the park with a 39.8 per cent gain, to 3366 sales and seventh place.

Kia jumped into the top 10 with a 24.4 per cent sales gain (2276 vehicles), ousting Honda – the worst hit of the companies that rely on Thai-sourced vehicles.

Honda sales slumped 29.1 per cent, to 1579 units, even putting it behind Suzuki (1667), despite that brand’s 21 per cent slump.

FCAI chief executive Ian Chalmers said the January sales lift was mostly driven by SUV buyers, with sales in that segment rising 29.8 per cent over the corresponding month last year.

He said rental companies were also replenishing their fleets.

“The number of private buyers for passenger cars declined by 8.4 per cent (2314) compared with this time last year,” he said.

Queensland, which was being hammered by floods in January last year, came back strongly, with sales there up 18.3 per cent.

VFACTS January 2012:
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