Mazda3 grabs some his­tory

The sales champ comes out of the blue, writes NEIL McDON­ALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

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.

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