Price makes Kia a mover MARCH MAR­KET

The Advertiser - Motoring - - NEWS - CRAIG DUFF

UTES power on as the big movers in 2017 but Kia is the stand­out brand for the first three months of the year.

New car sales set a March record at 105,410 ve­hi­cles, an in­crease of 898 on the same month last year, ac­cord­ing to Fed­eral Cham­ber of Automotive In­dus­tries fig­ures.

The Toy­ota HiLux and Ford Ranger were first and sec­ond in the charts and both con­tinue to grow by virtue of be­ing newly re­leased mod­els. The Ranger out­sold its Toy­ota ri­val in four­wheel drives but couldn’t sus­tain that in two-wheel drives.

Toy­ota re­mains unas­sail­able as the top brand in Aus­tralia but Kia is the mar­ket mover.

The Korean brand, hav­ing logged a mas­sive 34.8 per cent rise in sales in the first quar­ter, took 10th place in March with 4684 sales. That puts it within sight of Subaru (ninth on 5006) and VW (eighth on 5122).

The Cer­ato has pro­vided the bulk of Kia’s growth on the back TOP 5 CARS Toy­ota HiLux Ford Ranger Toy­ota Corolla Mazda3 Mit­subishi Tri­ton TOP 5 BRANDS Toy­ota 19,652 Mazda 10,472 Hyundai 8700 Mit­subishi 7583 Holden 7211 4245 3845 3574 3039 2670 10.1pc 2.4pc 10.3pc 16.3pc 13.7pc of a $19,990 drive-away deal, ac­count­ing for more than a third of the com­pany’s busi­ness with 1769 sales last month.

Kia’s Kevin Hep­worth at­tributes the car’s suc­cess to hold­ing that fi­nan­cial line.

“Be­ing con­sis­tent (in the small car seg­ment) is im­por­tant. The Cer­ato has been $19,990 on the road since launch,” he says. “Cus­tomers don’t have to worry about miss­ing a spe­cial deal — that price is the same month in, month out.”

The Hyundai Tuc­son and Mazda’s CX-5 were the only SUVs in the top 10 last month, al­though crossovers now con­sis­tently out­sell con­ven­tional passenger cars.

This is the “new norm”, says FCAI chief ex­ec­u­tive Tony We­ber.

“For the first three months of 2017 the SUV seg­ment is dom­i­nant,” he says. “This time last year passenger cars led the mar­ket by around 10,000 sales. Clearly, the shift in mar­ket dy­nam­ics is ac­cel­er­at­ing.”

SUV sales were up by al­most 8 per cent last month to 41,484 ve­hi­cles. Mean­while there was a slump of al­most 11 per cent in passenger cars to 38,972 — and a cor­re­spond­ing 11 per cent rise in light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles to 21,992 sales.

We­ber says: “Sales of medium-sized SUVs were par­tic­u­larly strong in March, up 18.3 per cent on the same month last year.

“That’s a very strong in­di­ca­tor of the ve­hi­cle size, ver­sa­til­ity and value for money that ap­peals to a lot of Aus­tralian fam­i­lies.”

Mercedes-Benz’s con­tin­ues to con­trol the pres­tige seg­ment. Sales of 4008 in March pushed Benz to 11th place out­right — and beat the com­bined monthly to­tal of BMW and Audi.

Kia Cer­ato: Korean brand’s best seller

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