THE nation's love for high-riding SUVs appears to know no bounds, with booming sales in the sector in April pushing traditional sedans and wagons to the bottom of buyers’ showroom shopping lists.
The Australian new-car market grew to 81,656 sales in April, up 1.2 percent compared with the same month last year according to VFACTS data released today, with SUVs such as the new Mazda CX-3 and even the ageing Toyota Prado off-roader making up more than half of the top 10 best-selling models.
Helping to drive the market were mum and dad buyers, who are now eating up anything with a higher ground clearance in huge numbers. SUV sales in the private buyers’ segment were up 25 percent in April compared with the same month last year. Even fleet and rental buyers are feeling the love, with SUV sales up 17 percent for the month.
By comparison, sales of traditional passenger cars fell 10.3 percent. SUV sales now account for 36.3 percent of Australia’s new-car purchases, with passenger cars accounting for 42.9 percent. If the trend continues, SUV sales will soon overtake passenger car sales.
Despite the SUV rush, city hatchbacks rounded out the top three spots on the April sales chart.
The Toyota Corolla, a traditional fleet car favourite, posted 3238 sales, down 2.3 percent, for the month.
Despite the slight slide, it was more than enough for the Corolla to take the monthly crown as the best-performing model, with daylight between it and the second-placed Mazda 3 (2365, down a big 22 percent), with the Hyundai i30 hatchback a close third (2298, up 1.2 percent).
A sore month for the Holden Commodore saw it slump more than 16 percent to 2043 sales, down more than 16 percent but enough to keep it in fourth spot.
Mazda’s strongest-selling model, the CX-5 soft-roader, sits comfortably in the top five as Australia’s best-selling SUV with 1868 sales, a gain of more than 21 percent for the month.
The Commodore’s pain was a reflection of the overall performance of Australian-made cars, which now account for only eight out of every 100 new-car sales. Its locally made stablemate, the Holden Cruze, only attracted 1031 buyers, down almost 30 percent on April last year.
The Ford Falcon lost the strong momentum from a strong March, falling to 446 sales for April, down almost 32 percent over April last year. However, while buyers steered away from Falcon-badged sedans, they jumped into Falcon utes, with sales of the load-lugger hitting 265 for the month, an almost 43 percent gain over April last year. Likewise, the Ford Territory SUV posted another solid month, pegging 802 sales and pushing numbers up more than 15 percent.
Buyers lost favour with another normally strong top 10 contender, the locally made Toyota Camry sedan, in the face of a new model due in June. It sold only 1141 units, down 7.6 percent for the month. It’s V6-engined cousin fared worse, with the Aurion pegging only 241 sales, down more than 22 percent.
Toyota was the top-selling brand for the month, snaring 28.5 percent of the market with 15,299 sales buoyed by strong interest in its Kluger seven-seat SUV. Mazda placed second with 8068 sales, up 15.3 percent, as its newly introduced CX-3 added to strong SUV sales.
Hyundai held out Holden to hang on to third place despite a 5.5 percent slip to just 7210 sales for the month, compared with the Lion Badge’s 7072, down almost 12 percent on April last year.
Ford managed fifth on the brand leader’s board, although take away its 2200 Ranger trade ute sales and it would have only have just slipped into the top 10.
Malaysian carmaker Proton managed to sell a dismal 20 cars in April, with year-to-date sales for the brand slumping almost 70 percent compared with the first four months of 2014. Chinese ute and SUV maker Great Wall did worse, managing only 12 sales for the month and managing to be outsold by British luxury sports marque Aston Martin with 13.
Speaking of luxury marques, the top end of town is doing very well, thank you. Adding to Aston’s good month, Ferrari sold 17 cars in April, Lamborghini sold 16, Maserati 39, and McLaren 6.
Even higher up the money tree, Rolls-Royce posted six sales, while Bentley had a modest eight added to its books.
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