FORD has clawed its way back to fourth in the monthly vehicle sales race according to April car sales figures to be released today.
The unexpected result for Ford – on the back of strong sales of the Mustang sports car and Ranger ute – relegated arch rival Holden to fifth, its worst-ever sales result.
It is the first time Ford has outsold Holden since January 1999, the last year Ford led the local car market. In recent years Ford has been languishing in fifth place and in 2015 it finished in sixth, the company’s worst result on record.
Ford owes much of its fortunes to the Mustang, the latest darling in the sports car world. In April the American muscle car registered 690 sales, making it the biggest seller in the Ford line-up behind the Ranger ute.
Hyundai once again held the mantle of the top-selling car courtesy of $19,990 drive-away deals for its i30 automatic, cementing the small hatchback (above) as top seller for April with 4143 sales.
Sales for April surged 7.2 percent to 87,571, but the figures were skewed because the Easter holidays – traditionally a quiet time for car dealers – fell in March this year, whereas last year it was in April.
The 3.8 percent increase in sales year-to-date is more representative of the strength of the new-car market, which is on track to surpass last year’s record of 1,155,408 vehicles.
Holden’s 29,229 sales for the first four months of 2016 have relegated the once dominant brand – it famously held 50 percent of the car market in its heyday – to fourth, behind clear market leader Toyota (63,060), second-placed Mazda (38,910) and Hyundai in third (33,045)
However, it’s utes that are shaking the pointy end of the best sellers.
The Toyota Hilux finished second with 3384 sales, while the Ranger was third with 2973.
The only two imported cars ever to top the local sales figures over a calendar year – the Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3 – finished fourth (2959) and fifth (2512) respectively.
The Hilux’s result has catapaulted it to the top of the sales charts so far for 2016, with 12,883 sales, marginally ahead of the Corolla (12,784), Mazda 3 (12,733) and i30 (12,654).
Last year Wheels predicted in 2016 the Hilux could become the first ute to top the sales charts, something it is currently on track to achieve.
Luxury brands also posted strong gains in April.
Once again Mercedes-Benz topped the luxury sales charts, selling 3303 vehicles (up 24.5 percent for the month), enough to make it the ninth best-selling brand, ahead of Kia, Honda and Subaru.
The new GLC small SUV (above) has provided much-needed support in the SUV category, helping build Mercedes-Benz’s lead over arch rivals Audi and BMW.
BMW also had a huge month, selling 2456 cars – with particular strength across its SUV line-up – for 58 percent growth.
Audi’s result was more subdued with a rare drop in market share; sales of 1756 vehicles resulted in growth of just 0.7 percent, well below the market’s 7.2 percent jump.
Porsche, too, suffered a rare recent sales drop, down 11.2 percent for the month with only 336 sales.
Other brands to post big percentage drops – but small numbers – were Ferrari (down 23.5 percent with 13 sales), Lamborghini (down 50.0 percent, 8 sales), McLaren (down 66.7 percent, 2 sales) and Rolls-Royce (down 50.0 percent for 3 sales).
But Lexus (up 23.6 percent for 802 sales) and Volvo (up 57.4 percent, 406 sales) both went well.
Top 10 passenger cars in April
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Top 10 brands in April
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An earlier version of this story said the last time Ford beat Holden was in 1997. The mistake was made because of incorrect figures supplied by the FCAI.