Win­ners & losers

We We’re re hun­gry for im­ports — SUVs above all — and cool on big sedans

The Advertiser - Motoring - - NEWS - RICHARD BLACK­BURN CARS­GUIDE ED­I­TOR

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.

TOY­OTA COROLLA

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.

SUVs

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.

LUX­URY BRANDS

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.

LO­CALS

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.

CARS

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

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