What’s the big deal?

Herald Sun - Motoring - - NEWS - RICHARD BLACK­BURN richard.black­burn@news.com.au

BIG fuel-guz­zling SUVs are hot and small ef­fi­cient cars are not, ac­cord­ing to Au­gust sales fig­ures. The con­tin­u­ing pop­u­lar­ity of SUVs and one­tonne utes is good news for mar­ket leader Toy­ota, which sold more than dou­ble the num­ber of ve­hi­cles of near­est ri­val Mazda. Others didn’t fare so well.

HOT 1. TOY­OTA LAND­CRUISER

Have we be­come a na­tion of global warm­ing de­niers? Sales of the be­he­moth off-roader dou­bled in Au­gust to 1350, more than the Prado and Kluger. That’s de­spite the fact — in V8 guise — it uses roughly five times as much petrol around town as the Prius. The at­trac­tion wasn’t lim­ited to the 200 Se­ries, ei­ther. Sales of the bare-bones 70 Se­ries ute grew by 23 per cent. Is the min­ing in­dus­try on the way back?

2. PREMIER AU­TO­MO­TIVE GROUP

Once upon a time — be­fore the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis — Ford owned some of the best known lux­ury brands in the world, grouped to­gether un­der the um­brella of the Premier Au­to­mo­tive Group. When the GFC hit, Ford had to sell Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover to stave off bank­ruptcy. Ford prob­a­bly wishes it hadn’t un­loaded them. Last month Jaguar sales were up 200 per cent thanks to the new F-Pace and Volvo sales grew by 50 per cent. Land Rover had a quiet month but sales have grown by roughly a third this year.

3. KIA

The sis­ter brand to Hyundai is mov­ing out of its sib­ling’s shadow. Sales were up by 26 per cent in Au­gust, con­tin­u­ing re­cent spec­tac­u­lar growth. It helps when you re­lease a new model at the same $19,990 drive-away price as the run-out ver­sion. Sales of the new Cer­ato small sedan and hatch grew by two-thirds com­pared with the same pe­riod last year. But it’s not just bar­gain base­ment ve­hi­cles at­tract­ing at­ten­tion. Sales of last year’s Carsguide Car of the Year, the Sorento SUV, were up by about a third, while Sportage sales grew 45 per cent.

NOT 1. HYUNDAI

Hyundai’s de­cline was as spec­tac­u­lar as Kia’s growth in Au­gust. Sales were down by al­most a third over the same month last year. Less at­trac­tive drive-away deals for the i30 were part of the prob­lem but there were other causes for con­cern. An up­dated Elantra sedan launched only a few months ago is sell­ing at less than half the rate of the old model. The brand is also strug­gling to fill the hole left by the baby i20, which has been with­drawn from the lo­cal mar­ket.

2. FIAT CHRYSLER

The Amer­i­can-Ital­ian al­liance isn’t kick­ing many goals. Jeep sales con­tin­ued to tank in Au­gust and year-to-date are down by more than 50 per cent. Alfa Romeo is hang­ing on grimly for the ar­rival of the Gi­u­lia sedan — the brand was out­sold by Chi­nese ute maker Fo­ton — while Fiat and Chrysler sales have halved and Dodge sales are roughly a third of 2015 lev­els.

3. CITY CARS

The Ford Fi­esta, Volk­swa­gen Polo and Re­nault Clio make up three of the four top-sell­ing cars in Europe but in Aus­tralia they’re barely blips on the radar. Fi­esta sales were down by a third in Au­gust, Polo sales dipped 27 per cent and only 137 Clios found homes, com­pared with 242 in the same month last year. The big names aren’t im­mune from Aus­tralians’ lack of in­ter­est in city run­abouts ei­ther. Suzuki Swift sales have dropped by a third, while Toy­ota’s Yaris was the brand’s only no­table sales loser in Au­gust.

HOT: TOY­OTA LAND­CRUISER

NOT: HYUNDAI’S ELANTRA

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