WITH just weeks to go, the car industry is set for another record year.
But there are signs that newcar sales are coming off the boil. In the first half of the year, sales in NSW, the country’s biggest market, were up by more than 7 per cent but they lost ground last month.
Sales in WA (down 5.2 per cent for the first 11 months) and Queensland (down 1 per cent) have tumbled, too. Sales to private buyers are down by almost 6 per cent. Fleet and rental sales of SUVs are propping up the market.
Here’s what was hot and what was not in November.
HOT One-tonne utes
Once again, the top two vehicles in the country were utes. Toyota’s HiLux pipped the Ford Ranger for top spot and in the process established a lead of 615 sales over its Corolla stablemate in the race to be Australia’s favourite nameplate. The love isn’t being shared around by the tradies though; sales of the Mitsubishi Triton are down by 15 per cent this year and the new Holden Colorado hasn’t set the world alight since its launch in September. Sales of the 4WD Colorado were down 15 per cent on last November.
Ford’s retro hero comfortably outsold the Falcon this year. In the budget sports car segment (less than $80,000), the Mustang accounted for one in every three vehicles sold. Sales of Mazda’s new MX-5 have doubled over the previous year but it still had to settle for fifth place in the segment in November, behind the BMW 2 Series, Hyundai Veloster and Toyota 86.
The other Korean car brand has launched into the top of the pop charts with a bullet. Kia has dislodged Honda from the top 10 brands and overtaken Mercedes-Benz in the process. November sales were slightly lower than in the first 10 months of the year but overall sales are up 26 per cent year-todate. Leading the way was the keenly priced Cerato small car and Carsguide’s 2015 Car of the Year, the Sorento, which was up by more than a third last month.
NOT Green cars
Australians bought seven electric cars last month, according to the official figures. That doesn’t include sales of plug-in pin-up boy Tesla, because unfortunately the US start-up is as transparent as the Federal Government spokesman on detention centres. Sales of hybrids are also down, although fleets are buying more hybrid SUVs.
If you’re looking for a deal on a new car, your local Citroen, Peugeot or Renault dealership might be a good place to start. Sales of all three brands are down this year and November provided little relief. Citroen sales are down 15 per cent, Peugeot is down 22 per cent and Renault is down roughly 2 per cent. The Peugeot 208 and 308 are among Europe’s most popular nameplates but locally they attracted just 15 and 41 buyers respectively in November. Citroen’s DS3 hot hatch found just one buyer.
The tipping point is coming. Based on current trends this will be the last year in which hatches and sedans outsell SUVs. Passenger car sales (which also include peoplemovers and sports cars) were down 4.5 per cent in November, while SUV sales rose 4 per cent. If you toss in privately registered one-tonne utes, cars are already outnumbered on our roads, despite the fact that SUVs and utes are thirstier, more expensive and inherently less safe to drive. Go figure.