Winners & losers
We We’re re hungry for imports — SUVs above all — and cool on big sedans
THE car industry’s annual sales figures were released this week and it’s now official: in 2015 Australians bought more new cars than ever before, despite the end of the resources boom that had fuelled strong growth in work utes — and Ferraris for mining magnates.
The arrival of more than six mini-SUVs has fed the country’s hunger for fauxwheel drives, denting sales of conventional hatchbacks and sedans in the process.
Sales of locally built vehicles continue to slide as the industry prepares for the exit of Ford this year and Holden and Toyota next year.
Last year, sales of Germanbuilt vehicles almost eclipsed those of local cars and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class was the second-best selling mediumsized sedan behind the Camry.
Sales of Chinese cars slowed to a trickle, while official figures show we bought fewer electric cars than in 2014.
Overall, Australians bought 1,155,408 new cars in 2015, an increase of 3.8 per cent over the previous year.
Based on this week’s figures from statistician Vfacts, here is the tale of the tallies for 2015.
The battle for the title of Australia’s best-selling car was a tight one in 2014 but the Corolla cruised to victory over the Mazda3 last year, despite a small slide in sales.
It was the Toyota’s third consecutive year at No.1, ironically helped by the arrival of a new Mazda — sales of the Mazda3 fell by more than 10 per cent as the pint-sized CX-3 lured buyers away.
In third spot was Hyundai’s i30 — but the story could have been very different. Corolla and Mazda3 sales include sedans as well as hatches but Hyundai splits its small-car sales between the i30 hatch and Elantra sedan.
If Hyundai adopted the same name for the variants, it would have fallen just 1421 sales short of the Corolla.
It rained all-new models in 2015 and buyers snapped them up. The two biggest successes were the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V baby SUVs, but Mercedes-Benz’s GLC was also well received when it landed towards year’s end.
It wasn’t just compact SUVs driving the growth, either. Medium and large SUVs also sold strongly and the big boppers — Nissan’s Patrol and Toyota’s LandCruiser — also recorded sales increases.
Overall, SUV sales were up by about 16 per cent, dragging the rest of the market to a record.
Mazda’s CX-5 eclipsed them all, establishing itself among the top-selling nameplates.
Buyers’ tastes grew more expensive in 2015 and luxury brands tempted them with more affordable and better equipped models.
BMW and Mercedes-Benz recorded double-digit growth and Audi sales grew by just over20 per cent.
Lexus sales were up by more than a quarter as it expanded its range, while Land Rover grew solidly. Even newcomer Infiniti — the luxury arm of Nissan — recorded a rise, albeit from a low starting point.
The top end of town was even healthier, despite a sharp dip in sales in Western Australia. Ferrari and Porsche sales were up by about 50 per cent each, Lamborghini sales more than tripled and Maserati sales grew by a third.
Alone among what used to be the big three, Toyota maintained its position in a market increasingly dominated by imported line-ups.
In its last full year of local manufacturing, Ford continued to slide.
The worrying thing for the Blue Oval was that its locally manufactured cars lost less ground than its imports and, on the current sales trajectory, it will slip to eighth place on the sales charts next year from top of the pile two decades ago.
Sales of locally built Holdens dropped by roughly 12 per cent. Stronger import sales helped stem the bleeding a little but couldn’t stop the brand being run close by Hyundai in the battle for third spot.
Even if they are on the slide, the hatchback and sedan still account for the lion’s share of the new-car market — but it’s only a matter of time before we become a nation of SUV drivers.
The tipping point is likely to be when local manufacturing ceases at the end of 2017 and the Commodore and Camry become imports.
Dented by the arrival of mini-SUVs, small car sales declined by 8 per cent in 2015. Micro cars have tanked — they were tipped as the next big thing as people sought lowemission transport but sales are down by roughly a third.
After a boom of sorts following the launch of the Toyota 86 and Hyundai Veloster, affordable sports cars have softened.
Large sedans are down by almost 8 per cent, as are big luxury limousines. Things are booming at the high end of town, though: sports cars above $200,000 are up by 17 per cent.
Sedaanss dentted:: (( Frrom llefftt)) Subaarru Liiberrtty,, Hyundaaii Sonaattaa,, Maazzdaa6 aand Toyottaa Caamrry
Podiium ffiiniissh fforr haattcchess:: Toyottaa Corrollllaa,, Maazzdaa3 aand Hyundaaii ii30