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VFACTS: Rugged rigs drive May record

Sales king: The Toyota Prado was the top-selling SUV in the country in May.

What gloom? Aussies buy up big in the showroom to set a new high in May car sales

5 Jun 2012

AUSTRALIA’S motor industry last month surfed a wave of SUVs and utes to a May sales record of 96,069 vehicles, up 24 per cent on last year.

Official VFACTS sales figures show the recession-busting performance eclipsed by 7.6 per cent the previous best May sales tally of 89,218 vehicles in 2010, and kept the Australian market on track for another million-unit year, at least for one more month.

Pent-up demand for vehicles previously in short supply because of the Thai flood devastation helped to supercharge May sales, with Toyota HiLux soaring 46 per cent to 4626 units – the top-selling ute’s best score since June 2009.

The HiLux surge propelled Toyota to 20,443 sales in May – up a whopping 85 per cent on the same month last year when Australia’s biggest car company was suffering stock shortages due to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

The recovery in sales of HiLux and other utes mostly sourced from Thailand resulted in a 19.8 per cent jump in light-truck sales, despite apparent cracks in the global economy.

More than one in five vehicles sold in Australia last month was a Toyota, with the Japanese giant taking 21.3 per cent of the market for the month and 19.4 per cent for the year to date.

Toyota last month took full advantage of the rising popularity of SUVs, sales of which jumped 56.6 per cent year on year.

The rugged Toyota Prado kicked sand in the face of all comers to achieve 1900 sales and a rare win as Australia’s best-selling SUV.

106 center imageFrom top: Toyota HiLux Holden Commodore Mazda CX-5 Mazda3.

SUVs have ousted small cars as Australia’s favourite form of transport, with 121,638 SUVs sold in the first five months of 2012, compared with 100,334 small hatchbacks and sedans.

Most of the major car companies in Australia recorded sales gains in May, with the notable exception of market number two, GM Holden.

Holden’s 9017 sales in May reflected a slip of almost 19 per cent compared with the same month last year and, while the company pointed to an acute shortage of Colorado utes due to a launch delay, it was not helped by a 28.1 per cent plunge in sales of its home-grown Commodore.

The Commodore, which achieved 2521 sales, is now officially Holden’s second-best-selling car, with the Cruze small car taking over Holden year-to-date model leadership, 13,380 to 13,117.

However, Holden still had enough bullets in its gun to force Mazda back to third place after the Japanese importer’s one-month reign in number two spot in April.

Mazda’s 8346 sales in May represented a 40.5 per cent recovery from its position in May 2011, when it was struggling for stock like all Japanese companies.

With 3288 sales, Mazda3 came second to Toyota’s HiLux for the second month in succession as Australia’s best-selling vehicle, even though sales of the Mazda small car were up 17.6 per cent on a quake-hit May 2011.

Mazda’s big winner again in May was the new CX-5 SUV which delivered 1680 sales, making it the best-selling medium SUV in the land.

Ford gained sufficient traction in May to reverse its market slide, clawing back into fourth spot behind Mazda with 7738 sales, up 13.3 per cent on the corresponding month last year.

The lift came mainly from big increases in Focus and Territory sales, with Focus achieving 1667 sales – up 46.1 per cent – and Territory jumping 166.7 per cent to 1280 units.

On the negative side, the Territory’s sister model, the Falcon, continued its dive, down 24.3 per cent to just 1008 sales in May, despite the arrival of the much-vaunted EcoBoost four-cylinder variant.

Nissan leapfrogged Hyundai into fifth place with a May record month of 6966 sales, up 36.8 per cent on the back of its compact SUVs, the Dualis and X-Trail.

Dualis sales leaped 92 per cent to 1330 units, and X-Trail lifted 70 per cent to 1518.

Like Holden, Hyundai lost ground in both sales volume and market pecking order in May, with its 6886 registrations sufficient only for sixth place on the monthly ladder.

The 7.5 per cent drop in sales compared with last year was due mainly to declines in volumes for some of its most popular sellers – i30, i20, i45, iLoad and ix35.

Bright spots were provided by the new Elantra (720 units) and Accent (671), which became the South Korean importer’s third and fourth most popular models for the month behind the i30 (2159) and ix35 (921).

As well, the Santa Fe large SUV kicked goals with a 412-unit month, up 35 per cent.

Mitsubishi enjoyed a 9.9 per cent rise in sales, to 5154 units, while Subaru recorded a 55 per cent sales gain with across-the-board volume improvements, including its new XV small SUV (704).

Even though much-needed shipments of Thai-made vehicles arrived too late to affect Honda sales in May, the company still managed to scramble back into the top 10, ousting Korean rival Kia with a 3103 sales effort.

Year to date, Australian vehicle sales are up 8.8 per cent to 435,288 units, which the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries says equates to a sales running rate of 1,078,000 vehicles in 2012.

VFACTS May 2012:
Brand Sales Movement % Share %
Toyota 20,443 +85.1 21.3
Holden 9017 -18.9 9.4
Mazda 8346 +40.5 8.7
Ford 7738 +13.3 8.1
Nissan 6966 +36.8 7.3
Hyundai 6886 -7.5 7.2
Mitsubishi 4739 +9.9 5.4
Volkswagen 3798 +30.7 4.9
Subaru 3803 +55 4.0
Honda 3103 +34.9 3.2

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