NEW vehicle sales cracked the magic one million in November, as the industry starts to lose some heat in the run to the end of 2014.
More than 1.016 million new vehicles were registered to the end of November the latest VFACTS data shows, with sales for the year so far down 2.2 percent compared with the same period last year. Sales are more than 23,000 behind the 11-month period to November last year when Australia posted a record 1.136 million sales.
November also saw Hyundai outsell both Mazda and Holden, ranking it second behind market leader Toyota, which alone accounted for almost one in five new vehicles sold.
Hit hardest were sales of city cars such as the Holden Barina Spark, Mitsubishi Mirage and Nissan Micra. Buyers switched off and cut the segment’s sales in half compared with the same month last year –it’s also down 30.3 percent on year-to-date sales.
By contrast, Australia’s love affair with small SUVs continued, with the segment up 17.5 percent year-to-date, with models such as Hyundai’s ix35 and the Mitsubishi ASX – and even the higher-priced new Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class – catching buyers’ eyes.
The wait for new models from Ford and Holden – a new Falcon and Territory went on sale this month, while a refreshed Commodore range went on sale last month – has the local manufacturers plumbing new depths.
Only 7561 new Aussie-built vehicles were sold in November, a 36.2 percent hit compared with the same month last year.
Holden’s Commodore only managed to attract 2200 sales for the month, snaring fourth spot on the bestsellers’ list, while the Cruze small car dropped completely out of the top 10 list with just 1393 sales.
Ford’s Falcon sales rebounded slightly to 411 units, meaning it was outsold by the Ranger ute, Focus small car, Fiesta city car, Kuga small SUV, and even its locally made stablemate, the Territory mid-size SUV (679 sales).
The Falcon woes are nothing compared with Toyota’s six-cylinder rival, the Aurion. That fell to just 336 sales for the month, sliding 44.6 percent compared with the same month last year. Year to date, the V6-engined large car is down 25 percent.
Toyota’s four-cylinder and hybrid Camry fared better, selling 1981 units for the month, down 16.6 percent compared with November last year, but only down 7.8 percent in year-to-date performance.
In the battle for outright sales, the Mazda 3 small car has wrested the monthly bestseller title away from Toyota’s fleet-friendly Corolla, with its tally of 3499 for the month out-pacing its rival by 235 units. The rivals are neck-and-neck for 2014 line honours, the Toyota only 679 units head in the race at 40,189 to the end of November.
A surprise entry in the top 10 brands list is Mercedes-Benz, which has nibbled away at Honda’s position to slip in at the bottom of the table for November.
It had a gangbuster month, with sales up 32.6 percent compared with November 2013. Strong performers included the new C-Class sedan (817), A-Class small hatch (421) and CLA-Class (397) small sedan, with its recently refreshed ML-Class (341) also bolstering the monthly tally.
In terms of buyers, mums and dads, and government departments are keeping their wallets shut, with passenger-car sales falling more than 17 percent in both segments compared with last November.
The winner – again – was the SUV segment, attracting 7.3 percent more private buyers, 8.3 percent more business buyers, and 4.5 percent more government buyers for the month.
BMW’s innovative i3 hatchback has now joined the electric car showroom, and sales in the segment are up by a third for the month compared with last year. Unfortunately, the i3 is not part of BMW’s November sales data so we’ll have to wait until December to see how it performs. As at the end of November, 108 electric vehicles were sold here.
In terms of other fuels, private buyers are still shunning diesel, LPG and hybrid vehicles – unless they come wrapped in an SUV shell, where sales are bubbling along strongly.
Other hot market sectors include sports cars priced from $80,000 – the hunting ground of the two-door BMW 4 Series range and the older Mercedes C-Class and mid-size E-Class coupes – up by more than 18 percent year-to-date.
If you don’t think there’s much money kicking about, think again, as the upper-large car segment – models costing more than $100K – has more than doubled so far this year. Sales in the segment are led by the likes of Maserati’s Ghibli and Quattroporte sedans, the refreshed Mercedes-Benz S-Class limousine, BMW’s 7 Series limo, and the equally corporate Audi A8.
Also doing well are people movers – think the new Honda Odyssey, Hyundai’s van-based iMax and the soon-to-be-replaced Kia Carnival – up by 12.5 percent over the same 11-month period.
According to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, which compiles the monthly sales data on behalf of participating car brands, the Australian market is on track to sell about 1.086 million vehicles in 2014 – down about 50,000 sales on 2013’s result.
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