What’s the big deal?
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.
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 The brand is also struggling to fill the hole left by the baby i20, which has been withdrawn from the local market.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