Buyers count their pennies
In hard times value counts for much, writes NEIL McDONALD
BUYERS of new cars are wary about spending their hard-earned. And in the case of Hyundai, the South Korean carmaker’s sharp pricing has bolstered its sales start for this year as popular rivals plunge into the red.
Hyundai is the only volume brand to have sold more cars last month than in February last year. Two months into the sales year, it is 9.3 per cent up on the same period last year.
This is in stark contrast to the fortunes of its compatriot and other budget carmaker, Kia, whose sales (4151) are down 20 per cent.
Hyundai’s market share was 5.9 per cent last month, the company’s best result since the factory took over distribution in 2003.
Sales and marketing director Kevin McCann says more consumers are getting the message about value.
The budget Getz and small i30 performed strongly, helped by the iLoad and iMax. The i30 had its best result yet, selling 1234.
With the exception of Hyundai, Audi and Jaguar, the economic downturn is ravaging local carmakers and most imports.
Audi lifted its share 5.4 per cent and Jaguar 22 per cent, largely on the back of the success of its XF sedan. Fiat and Dodge also had spikes on the back of big incentives.
Sales were down across all segments and fleets, which normally return to the market in February, were noticeably absent.
Of the three local volume players, Toyota is still market leader but its sales fell 31 per cent last month (14,274 compared with 20,703 in February last year). Holden was down 27 per cent and Ford 21 per cent.
The Commodore and Aurion were the biggest local big-six losers, down 22 per cent and 48 per cent. However, the Commodore managed to win back top sales spot (3376) from the Mazda3 (2989). The FG Falcon was fifth behind the Toyota Corolla and HiLux.
Economic uncertainty is also affecting the luxury segment. Mercedes-Benz sales are down 22 per cent, BMW 21 per cent, Alfa Romeo 52 per cent, Lexus 30 per cent, Volvo 30 per cent and VW 13 per cent. Porsche has taken a big hit — down 47 per cent.
However, auto analyst David Gelb of KPMG warns against comparisons because the first half of 2008 was a bumper sales period.