Mazda3 grabs some history
The sales champ comes out of the blue, writes NEIL McDONALD
FOR dealers and the car industry, January was a month of contractions. Traditionally a strong retail month, it really proved how volatile the market has become as dealers pushed 2008-plated stock out the door and brands scrambled for a strong start to the year.
Red ink was the order of the day with all leading brands experiencing sales slumps.
Overall, last month was down 18 per cent against January 2008.
But the Mazda3 shocked many, eclipsing both the Holden Commodore and Toyota Corolla to become the No. 1 seller for the month, largely because of the absence of fleet buyers for the Commodore and Corolla.
It is the first time a Mazda has topped the sales charts in 50 years.
Of the popular brands Kia plunged 30 per cent, Toyota 25 per cent, Nissan 23 per cent, Ford 22 per cent, Mitsubishi 20 per cent, Holden 14 per cent and Honda 16 per cent, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries VFACTS data.
Mazda sales were down 8 per cent, Suzuki 5.5 per cent and Volkswagen 10 per cent.
Hyundai and Audi defied the odds with a 16.7 per cent and 5.5 per cent sales gain over January 2008.
Hyundai spokesman Ben Hershman said he was ‘‘delighted’’ with the result, after the Getz and i30 performed strongly.
‘‘It’s a clear signal that our new generation of products is a hit with the market,’’ he said.
But the focus was on Mazda, which sold 3124 3s, delighting Mazda Australia managing director Doug Dickson. The car is on runout ahead of the new model’s arrival in April.
Dickson admits the fleet market is absent in January, giving the Mazda3 a sales edge.
Audi’s strong effort of 1081 vehicles came on the back of attractive incentives.
VFACTS showed that 67,079 vehicles were sold last month, down 15,191 compared with January 2008’s tally of 82,270 vehicles.
Toyota sold about 13,500 new vehicles, down from 17,852 in January 2008.
Mazda eclipsed Ford, selling about 6532 cars against Ford’s January tally of 6020.
The car industry is forecasting a 15 per cent fall in sales this year, down from more than a million last year to about 850,000.