New-ve­hi­cle sales de­cline

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Motoring -

The Aus­tralian new-ve­hi­cle mar­ket’s sales slump ac­cel­er­ated in De­cem­ber, with vol­ume div­ing al­most 15 per­cent over the same month last year to leave the over­all 2018 tally three per­cent short of 2017’s record sales num­ber.

The De­cem­ber de­cline was dou­ble the 7.4 per­cent fall in Novem­ber, sound­ing warn­ing alarms for the car in­dus­try at a time when other eco­nomic bell­wether seg­ments such as house prices are strug­gling.

In­dus­try lead­ers were talk­ing up the pos­i­tives of the mar­ket that man­aged 1,153,111 sales in the year to the end of De­cem­ber, say­ing the per­for­mance was still one of the high­est on record and the 11th time that sales had sur­passed the mil­lion-unit mark.

But they ad­mit nega­tives such as the bank credit squeeze, drought, up­com­ing fed­eral elec­tion and lack of wage growth are im­pact­ing sales, with con­sumers be­com­ing more cau­tious in the sec­ond half of 2018.

Long-time mar­ket leader Toy­ota topped the sales charts for the 16th year in suc­ces­sion, record­ing its best an­nual tally in six years – 217,061 ve­hi­cles.

Its Hilux pick-up be­came the na­tion’s best seller for the third year in suc­ces­sion, scor­ing 51,705 sales – not only a record for the model but also a new bench­mark for work­horse utes.

Toy­ota also picked up the pas­sen­ger car crown, with its Corolla, 35,320 sales, out-pac­ing Mazda’s for­mer cham­pion, the Mazda3, 31,065 sales, for the sixth year.

But Mazda had the last laugh in the bur­geon­ing SUV mar­ket, with its re­fur­bished CX-5, 26,173 sales, re­tain­ing its num­ber one SUV ti­tle over Toy­ota’s soon-to-be-re­placed RAV4, 22,165, and Nis­san’s X-trail, 21,192.

Fed­eral Cham­ber of Au­to­mo­tive In­dus­tries chief ex­ec­u­tive Tony We­ber said the three per­cent de­cline from the 2017 record sales year re­flected a chal­leng­ing cli­mate across the Aus­tralian econ­omy, in­clud­ing a slow­ing hous­ing mar­ket, tight­en­ing of money lend­ing and the drought.

How­ever, he said the fun­da­men­tals of the Aus­tralian econ­omy were still strong, point­ing to an­other solid year of car sales in 2019.

The worry for the mo­tor in­dus­try is that pre­vi­ously strong seg­ments such as SUVS and light-com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles joined pas­sen­ger cars in neg­a­tive ter­ri­tory in De­cem­ber.

SUV sales were down seven per­cent on the cor­re­spond­ing month last year and light-com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles tum­bled 12.5 per­cent. The pas­sen­ger car de­cline ac­cel­er­ated to 26.3 per­cent for the month.

The SUV grip on the mar­ket in­creased in 2018, with the fam­i­lyfriendly wag­ons ac­count­ing for 43 per­cent of sales com­pared with pas­sen­ger cars’ 30.9 per­cent.

Mar­ket jug­ger­naut Toy­ota was one of the few main­stream com­pa­nies to make sales gains in 2017, help­ing it to out­sell its near­est ri­val, Mazda, by al­most two to one. The lat­ter achieved 111,280 sales for the year, down 4.4 per­cent.

Hyundai again took the third step on the podium, record­ing 94,187 sales – a de­cline of 2.9 per­cent. Mit­subishi came fourth with 84,944 sales – up 5.3 per­cent – thanks largely to strong per­for­mances by the Tri­ton ute and ASX small SUV.

Ford – pur­veyor of the na­tion’s num­ber-two ve­hi­cle, the Ranger pick-up, 42,144, and the top-sell­ing sportscar, the Mus­tang, 6412, – came fifth with 69,081 sales, down 11.6 per­cent.

Its tra­di­tional ri­val, Holden, slumped from fourth place in 2017 to sixth in 2018 as its sales plum­meted 32.7 per­cent, to 60,754 units, as it strug­gled to get to grips with man­u­fac­tur­ing.

Its mar­ket share of 5.3 per­cent was its worst since the Holden brand was launched in 1948.

The Holden Com­modore – once Aus­tralia’s best-sell­ing car – achieved just 9040 sales, down 61.8 per­cent, in a mar­ket seg­ment that plunged 57.7 per­cent in 2018.

Korean im­porter Kia is now breath­ing down Holden’s neck, with sales of 58,815 units in 2018, just 1939 be­hind Holden.

Nis­san swam against the mar­ket tide to lift its sales by two per­cent, to 57,699 units, putting it ahead of Volk­swa­gen, 56,620, Honda, 51,525, and Subaru, 50,051.

Mercedes-benz again was Aus­tralia’s num­ber one lux­ury car seller, de­spite a 13.1 per­cent de­cline in sales, mainly due to a com­pli­ance prob­lem with the facelifted ver­sion of its best­selling C-class that ham­strung sales se­verely.

How­ever, C-class was still com­fort­ably the best-sell­ing lux­ury car, with 5055 sales, ahead of Mercedes’ own Cla-se­ries, 3086, and BMW’S 3 Se­ries, 3079.

BMW came sec­ond among the lux­ury mar­ques with 23,055 sales, down 2.4 per­cent, with Audi third on 19,416 sales, -11.8 per­cent. life af­ter

WIN­NER: Toy­ota’s Hilux shrugged off prob­lems such as the credit squeeze and lin­ger­ing drought to smash the Aus­tralian pick-up sales record with 51,705 sales in 2018.

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