Australian new car sales are heading for an all-time record
By JUSTIN LACY 12 November 2002
ANOTHER month has passed and another record for new car sales in Australia has been posted, with the automotive industry enjoying its strongest-ever October on its way to a record year overall.
Total sales of 72,332 units was an increase of 5952 units or 9.0 per cent on the same month last year, as well as a 10.2 per cent rise on October 1998, the year the existing annual record was set.
"The industry is clearly headed for an all-time record sales year and on the basis of the October result the Chamber is standing by its previous prediction of 820,000 sales by year's end," Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Peter Sturrock said.
"Buyers are being tempted by a wide range of exciting new products that are very good value for money. That, combined with continued low interest rates and strong economic growth, is driving vehicle sales to new heights."
The latest VFACTS figures show Holden recorded 16,797 sales during October, an increase of 2805 units on its September result, which helped push the company's market share up 0.1 per cent to 21.9 per cent (0.3 per cent up on October, 2001).
Toyota was second with 14,257 sales, followed by Ford (9634) and Mitsubishi with 6092 sales.
The October market was well up on the September result, growing by 6298 units or 9.5 per cent, with only three of the 11 passenger-based segments - small, people-movers and medium four-wheel drives - not picking up sales on the previous month.
Most manufacturers in the top 10 had a better month than September - except for Mitsubishi, Nissan, Mazda and Hyundai - with Holden and Toyota the standout performers, increasing sales by 20 and 15.6 per cent respectively.
Holden's result was a year-best figure, bettering the previous mark (16,082 units in May) by over 4.4 per cent, while for Toyota the result represented the brands second best month to date in 2002.
The passenger vehicle market grew by 2694 vehicles over the same month last year, while the light truck market (including four-wheel drives) grew by 15.1 per cent or 2883 vehicles.
Nissan remained the leading importer with 4083 sales, while Subaru held on to third position behind Mazda for the second month in a row as Hyundai's run of bad results continued - just 2007 sales during October courtesy of a number of under-performing models in the company's 10-car line-up.
SALES BY SEGMENT
DESPITE a slower than expected start to Getz sales in this country, Hyundai's new light car competitor is slowly but surely climbing its way toward the top of the segment sales sheets.
It moved from sixth in class in September to second behind Toyota's Echo (859) during October, on the back of a 173 per cent increase in sales to 747 units.
Hyundai claims an inability to source adequate supply during the launch phase as the reason for Getz's lacklustre performance to date, so we should expect to see sales hold up at this level at the very least over the coming months, especially with the base model's new $13,990 - including air conditioning - pricing announced on November 1.
Holden's Barina (540) dropped back to third in segment as the Getz made its presence felt, while Kia's Rio (513) held down fourth position.
The once dominant Hyundai Accent scored just 63 sales because the local distributor has ceased importation until it finalises the pricing and specs of the facelifted version that is due in the first quarter of 2003.
THERE were no positional changes among the top six small cars during October, but Toyota's Corolla was the only model to increase its sales over September results - up 313 units, or 10.7 per cent, to 3232 units.
Holden's Astra (2367) was down slightly but actually managed to increase its segment share courtesy of Lancer, 323, Pulsar and the superseded Laser all falling by between 10 and 20 per cent.
Ford's new small contender, the Focus, failed to achieve its relatively ambitious target of 1300 units in its first full month on sale, recording just 438 units - less than half the result posted by the runout Laser (993).
TOTAL medium segment sales showed the impact new models have on buyer interest, as the medium class has grown by just over 50 per cent in the last two months (3652 units in October, up from 2419 during August) courtesy of the new Camry and Mazda6 models.
Camry maintained its dominant share of the segment (57.3 per cent during October) with 2092 sales, while 897 units of the 6 gave Mazda its best mid-size result since February 1993.
Subaru's Liberty (393) remained steady in third position, while the once strong-selling Vectra (46) dropped another spot to sixth position as stocks of the soon-to-be superseded model dry right up.
NO surprises, in terms of finishing positions, in the large car class although the actual volumes achieved were noteworthy.
Falcon was up by over 42 per cent on its September result, recording 5252 sales for its best performance of the year to date now that the much-improved BA range has come on stream.
Commodore's October-month tally of 9667 sales was also its biggest for the year, up by more than 20 per cent on the previous best of 8000 sales in July, which also lifted its share of the large segment pie to a majority 52.3 per cent stake.
The new Camry fairly trounced its Toyota stablemate, recording 1112 sales to the Avalon's measly 447-unit total, which was its worst result of the year.
The battle between Commodore and Falcon ute models took an unexpected turn during October, with the Commodore (1274) load carrier outselling the Falcon (1175) for the first time since the AU model arrived in July 1999.
However, the October result may be an anomaly due to supply issues in the changeover from AU to BA and VU to VY. Ford, for instance, is running at 60 per cent of its normal ute mix without XR6 Turbo, XR8, LPG or column shift auto currently available.
The next couple of months should give a clearer picture as to whether the Commodore finally has the Falcon's number on the commercial front.
UPHEAVAL in the people-mover segment during October, with Kia's Carnival not troubling the scorers in its usual fashion and dropping to fourth in class as a result. With just 89 sales, it was the big Kia's worst result for the year by almost 50 per cent, as well as its first time out of the top two positions.
But Kia put the dip down to a $29,990 campaign that was run on the Carnival over the last few months, which "pulled forward" sales from the October result. Next month should see it back to its average around 215 units, according to Kia.
Toyota's Tarago remained the king with 302 sales, while Holden's Zafira (193) and Toyota's Avensis Verso (115) moved into second and third respectively at the Carnival's expense.
HOLDEN'S Monaro (234) was knocked from the top spot in the sports segment during October - its first month out of the number one position since its official introduction in January this year.
But to put a positive spin on the shock result, from Holden's point of view anyway, was the fact it was outsold by another Holden model.
The Astra Convertible continued its steady climb out of the winter blues that affect most soft-top models to record its best ever result of 291 units - a 40 per cent increase on September figures.
Nissan's 200SX was a clear third in class with 122 sales, while Hyundai's Tiburon still hasn't found its mark with buyers, recording just 31 sales to be ninth in class behind even the Ford Cougar.
SAAB'S 9-3 was the big mover in the prestige segment, up 11 places to fourth in class on the back of two weeks worth of sales of the new 9-3 sedan - it recorded 116 sales, which represented a 123 per cent increase on the September result.
The Swedish brand is looking to double 9-3 hatchback sales with its new sedan model, so those numbers should hold up in future months if it proves popular with prestige buyers.
The Holden Statesman continues as the unchallenged leader of the prestige segment with 304 sales, keeping it well ahead of BMW's Mini Cooper (214), which grabbed the number two spot off Ford's Fairlane (137).
MERCEDES-BENZ took the gong for the best selling luxury car during October with the C-class out-performing BMW's 3 Series for the first time since both companies reassigned their entry-level C180 and 318i models (respectively) to the luxury class in April.
C-class closed to within four units of 3 Series during September, but this month managed to outdo its key rival by 24 units, 478 sales to 454.
Other Benz and BMW models held down third (E-class - 212), fourth (3 Series Coupe - 170) and fifth (C-class Sports Coupe - 128) positions in the segment, while Audi's A4 climbed from eighth to sixth with 111 sales.
Compact all-terrain wagons:
TOYOTA'S RAV4 remains on top of the compact 4WD class, but the rest of the big four played musical chairs during October.
Subaru's Forester (967) was up to second and Nissan's X-Trail (936) also up one spot to third, while Honda's segment leading (on year-to-date figures) CR-V fell from second down to fourth with 829 sales.
Unless the CR-V lifts appreciably over the next two months it will be a very close race between it and the RAV4 for overall honours in the segment come the end of December.
Medium all-terrain wagons:
IN contrast to the other two 4WD categories, the medium segment was down during October, although only by 2.9 per cent. Toyota's Prado (720) moved back into top spot ahead of Mitsubishi's mildly revised Pajero (668) and Subaru's Outback (482).
Land Rover's revised Discovery made an impact in its first month on sale, lifting sales 165 per cent on September to finish fourth with 465 units.
Meanwhile Mazda's previously popular Tribute model slumped to its lowest total this year of 381 units - a result that was only good enough for fifth in class and well below its 598-unit average.
In a similar situation to the Carnival in the people-mover segment, the Tribute was subject to a driveaway promotion during September, which Mazda claims pulled forward a significant number of sales. It is also likely that the new 6 models were diverting plenty of the showroom traffic away from the Tribute as well.
Large all-terrain wagons:
LARGE 4WDs proved popular during October, with total segment sales up 31.8 per cent to make it the third biggest month of the year.
Toyota's facelifted LandCruiser (1134) led the way, reasserting its dominance after Nissan's Patrol (723) claimed segment honours during September.
The Mercedes-Benz M-class (227) edged back in front of BMW's X5 (210) for the month, while the new Range Rover (78) continued to record solid sales.
Top-sellers during October:
(previous month in brackets)
1. Holden Commodore - 9667 (1)
2. Ford Falcon - 5252 (2)
3. Toyota Corolla - 3232 (3)
4. Holden Astra - 2367 (4)
5. Toyota Camry four-cylinder - 2092 (7)
6. Mitsubishi Lancer - 1899 (5)
7. Mitsubishi Magna - 1725 (6)
8. Mazda 323 - 1483 (8)
9. Holden Commodore Ute - 1274 (12)
10. Nissan Pulsar - 1245 (9)