The Courier-Mail

Wheels come off Holden car sales

KOREAN BUMP

- JOSHUA DOWL­ING

THE iconic Holden brand has been over­taken by Korean car maker Hyundai in to­tal sales so far this year and is at risk of fall­ing out­side the top three for car sales for the first time in its 67-year history.

As a sign of our chang­ing taste in cars – and as lo­cal ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ing pre­pares to shut down by the end of 2017 – pre­lim­i­nary fig­ures to the end of Au­gust show Hyundai ahead of Holden by 600 new car sales.

It is the first time Hyundai has led the for­mer No.1 in the year-to-date tally.

The two brands have been neck and neck all year but Hyundai is now likely to bump Holden out of the top three in the an­nual tally.

A con­fi­den­tial dealer bul­letin ob­tained by The Courier-Mail has re­vealed Hyundai has dra­mat­i­cally in­creased its sales tar­gets in Aus­tralia for the fi­nal four months of the year to com­pen­sate for fall­ing de­mand for new ve­hi­cles in China, the world’s big­gest mar­ket.

“In or­der to main­tain global growth, the chal­lenge has been is­sued to other coun­tries to off­set the is­sues in China and to search for growth be­yond cur­rent busi­ness plans,” said the bul­letin sent to Hyundai deal­ers. The com­pany has re­vived the heav­ily dis­counted price of $19,990 drive-away for its i30 hatch­back (pic­tured) – about $5000 off full price.

When Hyundai of­fered the same car at that price in June it in­stantly be­came Aus­tralia’s top seller for the month.

But sales halved in the two months when the $19,990 drive-away price van­ished.

A Hyundai spokesman de­clined to com­ment un­til of­fi­cial sales fig­ures for Au­gust are re­leased to­mor­row.

But the Au­gust fig­ures ex­changed be­tween Aus­tralia’s Top 15 car brands show the Toy­ota Corolla has in­creased its lead as the top-selling car so far this year, ahead of the Mazda3.

Au­gust is cus­tom­ar­ily a tough month for new-car sales as buy­ers cash-in on end-of-fi­nan­cial year deals in June that some­times push de­liv­er­ies to July.

Mar­ket leader Toy­ota was down by 7.2 per cent, as were Holden (down 8.9 per cent) and Ford, which was down a stag­ger­ing 22.5 per cent off a low base.

But Ja­panese im­port brands Mazda, Honda, Subaru, Mit­subishi and Suzuki posted strong growth, likely driven by low prices en­abled by favourable ex­change rates with the yen.

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