AUSTRALIA’S new car market saw sales slipped half a percent below the same period last year in March, official figures released yesterday show.
However, March 2016 still recorded 104,512 sales as holidays including the long Easter break ate into the number of selling days, leaving sales for the first three months of the year at more than 250,000, and still 2.8 percent ahead of the first quarter 2015.
Despite Australians buying more cars in 2016 than ever before, market leader Toyota’s sales have declined 5.1 percent so far this year – while its 46,493 is down on this time last year (48,986), the Japanese carmaker is still easily ahead of the field. Next-best is Mazda, which has posted 7.7 percent growth to record a solid 30,449 sales for the month. Hyundai is third, with its 24,402 sales keeping Holden (22,519) off the podium.
In the race to be number one, the Hyundai i30 shot to the top of the charts as the best-selling passenger car for the first time since September last year, with 4198 of them rolling out of showrooms, ahead of the Toyota Corolla (3612) and Mazda 3 (3145). That result is despite the i30 being both older than its class rivals, and one of the oldest models in Hyundai’s comparatively young line-up.
The Mazda CX-5 (2252 sales) was the most popular SUV, ahead of the Nissan X-Trail (1991) and Mazda CX-3 (1755). With these three in the top 10, SUV sales are rapidly closing in on passenger cars sales – SUVs now command a 38 percent share of the market, up from 34.3 percent this time last year, while the passenger car share has fallen from 46.4 percent to 41.5 percent.
The Toyota Hilux continues its time at the top of the trade ute tree, with 3897 sales, enough to make it the second most popular of all vehicle types and Toyota’s number one seller. It easily outsold the Ford Ranger (2960), while the Mitsubishi Triton claimed the final podium spot with 2740 sales.
The Holden Commodore recorded an impressive fourth, with 2559 sales to show consistency for the large Aussie. The Toyota Camry was the next-best locally produced model, with 1939 sales good enough for eighth.
Winners for March include Subaru, which has recorded 13.9 percent growth year-on-year, with 11,768 sales compared with 10,329 sales 12 months ago. Its June sales were up a whopping 20.6 percent, with only Kia, Porsche, Jaguar and Land Rover achieving higher increases.
Land Rover has overtaken Jeep overall, with a strong 1541 sales for the month far ahead of Jeep’s 1141, helping the English brand post 4093 sales year-to-date, ahead of the once-strident Jeep’s 3787. This time last year, Jeep had posted 7583 sales – just over double its 2016 result.
Jaguar has sold 680 cars so far in 2016, streets ahead of its 249 this time last year. Those numbers have been driven by the new Jaguar XE, which accounted for 190 of the brand’s 273 March sales to be the its best seller by significant margin. Year-to-date, the XE makes up 72 percent of all Jaguar purchases in Australia.
Jaguar sales are good news, but are a long way short of the triumvriate of German brands, with Mercedes-Benz (10,063 and 14.1 percent up year-to-date), BMW (7478, 27.7 percent growth) and Audi (6160, 12.4 percent increase) all outperforming the market. Mercedes sneaked into the top 10 of overall brands, too.
Ford posted growth with 6481 sales in March, 13.7 percent up on this time last year and with 18,641 year-to-date against 16,402. As well as its strong-selling Ranger, the Mondeo, Kuga and EcoSport had strong months to push Ford up after its significant declines of the last decade. The delivery of 378 Mustangs in March also helped push sales up 458 units over 2015, as did a jump in locally made Falcon ute and Territory SUV sales to 242 (up 44 units on February) and 660 (up 80) respectively.
Speaking of Aussie-made, it was a rare good month for the industry. Falcon sales fell slightly to 411 with ute and Territory lifting the local flag higher compared with February, Commodore’s 228-unit rise made up for the Cruze’s 95-unit fall to 873 sales, and the Toyota Aurion’s 226 (up 81) and the Camry’s 1913 (up 482) closed on positives.
With Barry Park
Top 10 passenger cars in March
Top 10 brands in March
Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.
Want free access to 5 years of Wheels archive content? Sign up now!