Holden drives new car sales
By Robert Wilson
CAR sales have begun the year in top gear as Australians bucked the international trend to buy 14 per cent more vehicles in January.
Holden led the way with nearly 23 per cent of the market, helped by its popular Commodore large sedan outselling Ford's Falcon two to one.
At the other end of the size scale, Holden's Astra beat Toyota's new model Corolla to lead the small-car segment.
January also saw more than 200 new Holden Monaros find homes as production of the much-anticipated coupe got into full swing at Holden's Adelaide plant.
"We're very satisfied with how the year has started. It's gone well partly because we've had some very eagerly anticipated products to kick off with but sales have been strong across the range," said Holden spokesman Jason Laird.
Mr Laird said Holden expected to sell 172,000 vehicles in 2002 to repeat its dominance of last year.
Toyota held onto second place in the car maker's league table, with 10,800 sales or 18.5 per cent of the market.
But Ford's woes continued with its share falling even further from last year's average of 13.8 per cent to record just 12.7 per cent for January.
"We don't expect to see any large surge in demand for Falcon until the new model later this year," said a Ford spokesperson.
Nissan was the top importer with 3695 sales for a 6.3 per cent share, helped by an eager reception for its new X-Trail compact four-wheel drive and steady demand for its award-winning 200SX sports car.
The record January notched up an extra 7170 sales on top of last year's figure, itself a record. It saw the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries stick to its forecast of 780,000 sales for 2002, which would make it the fourth-best year.
Local conditions contrasted strongly with those in the US, where sales dipped 5.2 per cent as US manufacturers abandoned the zero-financing incentives they introduced after September's terrorist attacks.
The European market ended last year unexpectedly buoyant, but the picture varies markedly from country to country.
France, Britain and Spain enjoyed strong sales but the German market slumped. Analysts predict European sales will fall this year by as much as 8 per cent.
Holden remains pessimistic about market prospects, expecting total sales to dip to 750,000 vehicles this year, down from 772,000 in 2001.
The Falcon ute was the only bright spot for Ford's manufacturing operations. It comfortably beat the Commodore ute to give the Blue Oval its best ever sales month for commercial vehicles.
Among prestige makers, BMW's bread-and-butter 3 Series suffered a drop in sales, although without corresponding gains for its rivals: Audi's new A4, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Jaguar X-type and Lexus IS range.
However, BMW saw strong sales of its new Compact, a smaller car than the 3 Series.
You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen. It said, 'Parking Fine.'So that was nice.
Bloody worrying if not. Falcon looking better than a couple of years ago AU3 vs AU yet selling less is a serious worry. We can only hope its because buyers are holding off for Barra and Ford will have success from then on. If they are'nt then Barra will need some serious advantages over VY to drag buyers away from the product they are used to in recent years!
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