Photo Report: Driving a Tesla Model X along the Australian East Coast

Kangaroo meets Tesla Model X

Two and a half years ago, I test drove the Tesla Model S and had one thing to say: believe the hype. This time around I want to take the Model X on a longer trip to also evaluate the burgeoning network of charging stations around Australia. Although Tesla won’t communicate sales figures for Australia, anecdotal spotting on the streets and a recall earlier this year indicate the American manufacturer has already sold north of 1.500 units in the country, a real success. Worldwide, the Tesla Model X is simply one of the top selling electric vehicles, up there with the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, BYD Qin and BAIC EC-Series. There is one Telsa store in Sydney, located in the northern suburb of St Leonards, “north of the bridge” as Sydneysiders would say.

Taking stock of the beastOur itinerary: Sydney to Byron Bay and back, covering 1.765km / 1.100miMikey posing next to the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour

The first shock comes before even taking the wheel of the car. According to the spec sheets sent by Tesla PR,  this is a Model X P100D and it comes in at a demoralising AUD 278.025 (US$209.000, 177.400€), including AUD 43.612 worth of Luxury Car Tax, a local specialty. That’s double the price of the Model S I tested before and an awful lot of money indeed. The base price is AUD 203.600, to which metallic paint (AUD 1.400), 22″ Onyx Black Wheels (AUD 7.600) and Six Seat interior configuration (AUD 8.300) were added. For comparison, for this price in Australia you can get two top-spec Volvo XC90, two top-spec Toyota Land Cruiser 200,  almost three base-spec Porsche Cayenne and three top-spec Jaguar F-Pace S. Ex-Luxury Tax, it costs roughly the same as a Mercedes GLS 563 AMG or a Range Rover Sport SVR and is significantly dearer than any BMW or Audi SUV, including the X6 M (AUD 197.900) and SQ7 (AUS 153.300). Which one would you choose?

Joey in his mum’s pocketMikey gets acquainted with the locals

Needless to say that for that price, I will expect top-notch quality and performance, but also some serious off-roading capabilities. Judging by the puzzled look and unmistakably paler face of the Tesla salesperson when I inquire about exactly how much off-road driving we can do with the Model X: not at all. Her response: “What do you mean by off-roading?” Hmm never mind. This is a performance car that happens to be shaped like an SUV. But first, a name for our expensive ride: after Ivanhoe the Haval H9, Joey the Toyota Hilux, Kaitlin the Peugeot 208 and Lars the Volvo V90 we need a somewhat Australian name starting in M, a male name as this is an SUV, therefore a truck which has a masculine gender in my native tongue, French. We will go with Mike, but Australianised as ‘Mikey’.

Tesla Supercharger in Heatherbrae near Newcastle

We start the trip with 3.503 km / 2.177 miles on the odo, and although the sticker on the windscreen says 542 km / 337 miles of range, we’ll never reach that figure and full charge allows us a maximum of 430 km / 286 miles. Organising a road trip with an electric car is, for now, a completely different experience than with a combustion car. The deep Australian outback and its iconic red earth is out of the equation as there aren’t enough charging stations out there. We have to stick to the coast and take the direction of Brisbane. Another option could have been joining Melbourne, but we judged that to be a lot less eventful. A rule of thumb is that you should never miss a supercharger when you reach one. With these, a full charge is achieved in 30 mins so it’s a little like a lunch stop. Except that the businesses that house the superchargers have not yet cottoned up to the opportunities and do not offer quick meal options tailored to Tesla users. Weird.

Mikey in Worimi National Park NSW

Our first stop is the Morisset Reserve, which has to be one of the only places in Australia where you can actually pet wild kangaroos (only if you have carrots to offer). Very shy in nature, the quintessential Australian animal is surprisingly tame here. A secret spot 1h30 north of Sydney I warmly recommend to all of you visiting the city, or the country for that matter. The Reserve, open to the public, is located on the grounds of one of the largest psychiatric hospitals in Australia and I came to imagine that living this heart-warming experience with the kangaroos could be therapeutic for the patients. After supercharging in Heatherbrae near Newcastle, we head towards Worimi National Park, home of the largest sand dunes in Australia. We dare not drive onto the sand so we have to do with some snaps with a sandy background (above).

Hotel charging in GraftonGrafton car landscape

The first night has to be spent at the Fitzroy Motel Inn in Grafton as this the only Destination charging station around. These are slower chargers (approx 5 hours to full charge) usually placed in the carpark of hotels, that you can only use if you are a patron of the hotel (in most cases, some are free for all). But you must call in advance to make sure the station is reserved for you as most only have one or two stations. These added elements can make or break a trip as arriving to a fully booked charging station can mean you have to delay your departure by half a day. By now the car landscape has well and truly tilted towards pickup trucks with the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger kings of the Australian countryside. Roo bars protecting against kangaroos are also common.

Mikey sitting on the easternmost point in continental Australia in Byron BayIn Lennox Head

Eager to figure out whether the Model X can match the safety features of the Volvo XC90 and Volvo V90 CC I drove recently, I am bitterly disappointed. The press cars have the autopilot mode deactivated, which means no line assist, no emergency braking and, most irritatingly, no adaptive cruise control. Granted, it is an exceptionally smooth ride and the 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 60 mph) in less than 4 sec and 0 to 160 km/h (0 to 100 mph) in under 9 sec are experiences I was so eager to rekindle with and left me very satisfied indeed. Even though it doesn’t offer loads of storage options, the cockpit is a lot more practical than the Model S which was my main criticism then, with many cup holders for example. And the giant central touch screen console is so hypnotising, easy to use and stylish that it’s really hard to be mad at the Model X.

Ferry crossing in Lawrence NSWGreat Wall V-Series Pickup Ford Ranger

Also, the windscreen extends above your heads to end up atop the rear seats, creating a unique impression of space and awesome upward visibility. The Falcon Wing doors are mighty impressive but really just a gimmick in my eyes. However the negative surprises kept piling up throughout the trip. The cabin was surprisingly noisy especially on the passenger side with a constant wind noise sounding like the door was still open (when it’s well and truly closed). For large swaths of the trip – which was almost entirely done in heavily populated areas – the GPS does not recognise the Pacific Highway although new construction has been done with for almost two years. Surprising given Tesla’s “constant update” policy. And for half a day the GPS voice froze and was stuttering out of control, taking an overnight stop to rest it. I have yet to remember another car that did that to me. Also, automatic high beam needs fine tuning as it goes off abruptly and a lot of times unnecessarily, whereas the low beams are too weak, actually creating a dangerous situation when there was none.

Posing with a vintage lot near Grafton NSW

I was dumbfounded when it became apparent that windscreen wipers don’t trigger automatically with rain, a function that exists in 20 year-old entry level cars such as the Peugeot 206 for example. The user manual says this “will be available in a later software update”… This is so weird that a Tesla owner we met and chatted with at one of the supercharging stations (these locations do create a Tesla community) asked us about it. He also told us that his previous Model S did have the function. I console myself by indulging in yet another ludicrous acceleration: never, ever will I get tired of this.

Foton Tunland in Brooklyn NSWToyota Hilux in Ballina

We soon reach Byron Bay and get Mikey to pose near the local lighthouse which is the easternmost point in the whole of continental Australia. Popular vehicles around here include the Nissan Navara, Hyundai Santa Fe, Toyota Kluger, VW Amarok, Mitsubishi ASX and of course the Toyota Hilux, national best-seller in 2016 and headed towards a second consecutive year on top in 2017. But one nameplate that seemed to be everywhere during this trip is the Hyundai Tucson, up 20% to #7 in the country so far this year with its frequency on the streets fully reflecting its position in the sales charts. Finally, both the new generation Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 are already well established here.

We then drive back to Sydney via a ferry crossing in Lawrence and a last night in Brooklyn NSW in the Hawkesbury River region. We return to St Leonards with 5.269 km / 3.274 miles on the odo after swallowing 1.766 km / 1.097 miles in four days. So. What is the Tesla Model X doing well, and not so well?

  • Ludicrous accelerations either from 0 or at any speed make overtaking a little too enjoyable. The force at which the car speeds up, flattening you against your seat, is an experience I cannot forget
  • Central giant touch screen console is brilliant and stylish yet does not divert your attention from driving too much as it is really easy to use
  • Interior sober sophistication invites luxury. More practical than the Model S
  • Giant windscreen gives impression of space above head
  • Falcon Wing doors are fun to watch but relatively impractical
  • Easter eggs such as the Holiday song and dance to the Wizards of Winter in the video above are unique to Tesla, entertaining a special link with its customers
  • Supercharging is fast (30 mins) and the 430 km range helps with range anxiety once you are accustomed to bending your trip to meet charging locations and destinations
  • Excellent sound system

  • Autopilot deactivation means we couldn’t test any safety features as it also cancels adaptive cruise control. These functions should be separated
  • Windscreen wipers don’t trigger with rain
  • GPS is lost and can’t find main arteries such as the Pacific Highway for a large part of the trip.
  • GPS voice froze and took an overnight stop to reset
  • Its extravagant price reserve the Model X to fanatics of the “concept” Tesla offers, not pragmatic buyers that will prefer it a truly luxury off-roader such as the Range Rover
  • Noisy cabin with wind noise on passenger side
  • No sunnies holder above your head
  • Indications on the touch screen such as the time, distance and time to destination (pretty essential) are too small and hard to find
  • Automatic high beam too sensitive and low beam too weak
  • Door opening system with a key in the shape of the car, is impractical
  • Range, although satisfying, is over 100 km less than announced by Tesla

Stay tuned for our next test drive: a Toyota C-HR in the Australian desert.

Tesla Model X in Ballina Motel

Australia November 2017: All-time high November = annual record likely

First appearance of the Holden Astra nameplate in the Top 20 in almost 9 years.

* See the Top 20 best-selling brands and models by clicking on the title *

New vehicle sales in Australia establish a new November record for the third consecutive year thanks to deliveries up 2.5% year-on-year to 101.365 units, the first time in Australian history that November registers a six-digit sales figure (previous record: 98.639 in 2016). Similarly, the market is on track to hit a third consecutive all-time annual record with year-to-date sales up 0.6% over the same period last year to 1.086.296 registrations. Private sales are down 3.4% year-on-year to 45.729 whereas business sales are up 5.6% to 41.350, rental sales shoot up 22.9% to 7.225 but government sales are down 4.5% to 3.432. Going from strength to strength, SUVs hold a commanding 40.2% market share in November vs. just 36.4% for passenger cars and 19.8% for light commercials (mainly pickup trucks or “utes” as they are called here).

The Toyota Hilux is the best-selling vehicle in Australia for the 7th time in 2017. 

Where is Australia sourcing its vehicles? From Japan at 29.587 sales (+8.3%), Thailand at 24.963 (+0.9%), South Korea at 15.749 (+17.9%), Germany at 8.024 (+7.4%) and home at 4.089 (-45.4%), the latter being at 100% composed of existing stock as automotive production has ended in Australia in October 2017. Looking at sales by state and territory, Western Australia is the most dynamic this month with a 13.4% gain to 8.685 sales, followed by Tasmania up 6.2% to 2.021, Queensland up 2.1% to 19.134, New South Wales up 1.4% to 33.463 and Victoria up 1.2% to 29.332. The country’s two territories are down in November: the Australian Capital Territory is down 1.2% to 1.611 units and Northern Territory is down 2.3% to just 789.

Thanks to the new T60 pickup, Chinese LDV is up 157.9% in November. 

Toyota remains the uncontested leader of Australian sales charts, even beating the market with a 3.5% year-on-year gain to 18.6% share vs. 18.4% so far this year. The Japanese carmaker crosses the 200.000 sales milestone for the 13th year in a row and is the only manufacturer to have ever managed that feat in Australia. Mazda reclaims the #2 spot it holds YTD off Hyundai despite a 5% drop while the Korean marque is up a solid 9.9% on its November 2016 score. Volkswagen (+10.3%), Mitsubishi (+13.7%), Kia (+20.5%) and most impressively Honda (+26.5%) post the only double-digit gains in the Top 10. Holden resists at +2.6%, posting its 2nd positive month in a row (and this year) despite the demise of the Commodore, now on stock and full imported from February 2018. Skoda (+20.4%) and Isuzu (+21%) also deliver solid results, while among smaller brands Haval (+34%), Porsche (+67.9%), LDV (+157.9%), Alfa Romeo (+251.5%) and Peugeot (+361.3) are the best performers. It’s a stunning month for luxury brands: Aston Martin (+37.5%), Ferrari (+69.6%), Maserati (+90.6%), McLaren (+125%), Lamborghini (+300%) and Rolls-Royce (+350%) all post spectacular gains.

The Mitsubishi ASX is up 27% to #9 in November. Picture

After being seriously shaken in October (Hyundai i30 to #1), the Australian models ranking returns to normal this month with the Top 4 best-sellers replicating the YTD order: the Toyota Hilux leads for the seventh time this year, up 7% to 4% share, ahead of the Ford Ranger (+5%), Toyota Corolla (-9%) and Mazda3 (-14%). The Mazda CX-5 is up 21% to 5th place, headed towards a fifth consecutive year as Australia’s best-selling SUV, whereas the Hyundai i30 (-12%) slumps down five spots to #6. The Hyundai Tucson (+10%), Toyota RAV4 (+22%) and Mitsubishi ASX (+27%) make it four SUVs in the Top 9. Further down, notice the Holden Colorado up 35%, VW Golf up 27% Mitsubishi Triton up 21% and Isuzu D-Max up 20%. The Holden Astra shoots up 381% year-on-year to land at #18 now that both the sedan and sportwagon variants complete the lineup, the first time the Astra nameplate appears inside the Australian Top 20 since February 2009.

Previous month: Australia October 2017: First pole position for the new gen Hyundai i30

One year ago: Australia November 2016: Hilux vs. Ranger the new iconic battle

Full November 2017 Top 20 brands and models below.

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Australia October 2017: First pole position for the new gen Hyundai i30

The Hyundai i30 is the best-seller in Australia in October. Picture

* NOW UDPATED with the Top 50 All-brands and Top 280 All-models *

The Australian new vehicle market is up 2.6% year-on-year in October to 95.763 registrations, beating the pervious October record established five years ago (95.584 in October 2012). The year-to-date tally is on track for a third consecutive record year, up 0.5% on the same period a year ago to 984.931 units. SUVs outsell passenger cars again with 38.5% of the market (+1.2%) vs. 38% (-3.8%) while light commercials are up 18.5% to 20% share, pulled by a stunning 25.2% growth from 4×4 pickups, or “utes” as they are called here. Private sales are down 0.5% to 42.419 units or 44.3% share vs. 45.7% a year ago whereas business sales are up 3.5% to 39.639 or 41.4% share vs. 41% in October 2016. Rental sales amount to 7.199 and government sales to 3.097.

As of October 20, the Australian car manufacturing industry is no more.

In terms of sales by state/territory, the biggest increase is delivered by Western Australia rallying back up 12.8% to 8.548 sales, ahead of South Australia up 7% to 5.831, Queensland up 5.9% t 17.860, Northern Territory up 4.3% to 744, Australian Capital Territory up 2.6% to 1.448, Victoria up 2% to 28.098, and New South Wales up 1.9% to 32.454 whereas Tasmania is down 3.5% to 1.870. The most popular country sources are Japan at 27.062 (+5.4%), Thailand at 22.826 (+7.4%), South Korea at 15.395 (+10.8%), Germany at 7.309 (-2.8%) and Australia at 5.129 (-28.6%). This last figure is set to thaw rapidly to zero as local manufacturer Holden has historically ended Australian production on October 20, and this after 69 years of continuous car manufacturing in the country and 161 years of manufacturing, as the the company was first started by James Alexander Holden in 1856, specialising in leather goods and saddles. More on the end of Australian car manufacturing here.

The Mazda CX-5 is back in the SUV lead. 

Brand leader Toyota outpaces the market with a 9.1% year-on-year gain to 18.6% share while Hyundai (+1.1%) climbs onto the 2nd spot for the first time in 12 months. Mazda (+1.7%) is knocked down to #3, Holden (+2.7%) is back to the 4th spot it holds year-to-date – and posts its first positive month since last January – with Ford (-11.1%) rounding up the Top 5 as is also the case YTD. In the Top 10, Mitsubishi (+6.2%), Subaru (+12.7%) and Kia (+20.1%) also shine whereas Nissan is down 17.6% but back up three spots on September to #9. Further down, Audi (+9.7%), Honda (+13.7%), Isuzu Ute (+17.5%) and Land Rover (+24.9%) make themselves noticed all the while Mercedes (-13.9%), Renault (-18.7%) and Jeep (-32.9%) all struggle. Peugeot is up 51%, Lamborghini up 50% and the fastest-growing brands in market are Chinese Great Wall (+173%), LDV (+134%) as well as Maserati (+132%) and McLaren (+100%).

Hyundai looks to be onto a smashing success with the Kona in Australia. 

Model-wise, there is a surprise atop the ranking: the Hyundai i30 shoots up five spots on September to land in pole position with sales up 47% to 4.2% share. It is the first time this generation of i30, launched earlier this year, leads the Australian charts and the nameplate’s first podium and #1 spot since June 2016. In total, the i30 has now ranked #1 in the monthly Australian charts seven times, the first being in June 2015. Add to these September 2015March 2016April 2016 and May 2016. The most impressive element in this month’s i30 victory is the fact that it was achieved without the help of cutthroat pricing as the 2015-2016 wins were accompanied with a sub-$20k drive-away pricing for a car that was in runout mode. After being outsold by the Ford Ranger last month, the Toyota Hilux reclaims the advantage both overall and in the 4×4 category (2.970 vs. 2.648 sales), cementing its YTD lead at 4% share (+14%) vs. 3.6% (+18%) for the Ranger, down to #4 in October. The Toyota Corolla (-4%) remains in third place as it is YTD (-7%).

2018 Holden Commodore. Picture courtesy 

For its last full month as a locally-produced car and before being replaced by a locally-tuned rebadge of the imported new gen Opel Insignia, the Holden Commodore is up a splendid 15% to retain its spot in the Top 5, bypassing the Mitsubishi Triton year-to-date to climb back up to #9. The Mazda CX-5, boosted up an impressive 35% by the new generation, is back in the SUV throne it has held for the past four consecutive years. With the Hyundai Tucson sinking 23% to #16 in October, the CX-5 consolidates its YTD SUV lead to just under 1.000 units. The VW Golf is up 29% to snap its first Top 10 ranking since May 2016 and the Mitsubishi Triton surges 85% to #10. Other great gainers in the Top 20 include the Honda Civic (+53%), Nissan Navara (+21%), Isuzu D-Max (+18%) and Holden Colorado (+17%).

The Kia Stinger has landed in Australia. 

Further down, the Hyundai Kona goes from 71 units during its inaugural month in September to 857 in October, breaking into the Australia Top 50 at #37 and already beating the Toyota C-HR’s best month (784 last August) and headed towards the small SUV lead held this month by the Mitsubishi ASX (1.542), Subaru XV (1.182) and Mazda CX-3 (1.106). The other September launches are also up: the LDV T60 is up 77 ranks to #132 and the VW Arteon is up 57 to #153. The Honda CR-V is up 102%, the Holden Astra up 23-fold, the Subaru Impreza up 850%, the VW Amarok up 62%, the Toyota Land Cruiser Ute up 111% and the Kia Carnival up 47%. This month we welcome the Kia Stinger directly at #92 and the Renault Zoe at #278

Previous month: Australia September 2017: Ford Ranger best-seller for the first time

One year ago: Australia October 2016: Two pickups (utes) on top for the first time

Full October 2017 Top 50 All-brands and Top 280 All-models below.

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Australia September 2017: Ford Ranger best-seller for the first time

The Ford Ranger tops the Australian sales charts for the first time this month. Picture 

* NOW UPDATED with the Top 50 All-brands and Top 280 All-models *

The Australian new vehicle market is down 2.4% year-on-year in September to 100.200 registrations, meaning the year-to-date total is now only 0.2% ahead of the volume over the same period a year ago at a record 889.168 units. SUVs confirms their domination with a 38.9% market share ahead of 38.1% for passenger cars but commercials improve the most at 23% share. Private sales continue to struggle at -6% to 45.322 while business sales are down a more restrained 2.6% to 40.453. The market limits its fall thanks to strong rentals (7.789) and government fleets (3.241). All States and territories are in decline this month, with New South Wales the best performing at -0.7% to 34.168, followed by Victoria at -2.3% to 28.096, Queensland down 2.7% to 19.175 and Western Australia down 3.1% to 8.401. 65.088 petrol-powered cars found a buyer in September vs. 35.112 diesel, of which 60% are commercial vehicles. As far as country of origin is concerned, the leading one is Japan with 27.920 (-1%), ahead of Thailand at 25.251 (-2%), South Korea at 14.903 (+2%), Germany at 8.217 (+5%), Australia at 5.512 (-28%), the U.S. at 3.879 (-11%), the UK at 2.899 (-4%), Spain at 1.263 (-20%) and Hungary at 1.218 (+14%).

The Tiara was the first Toyota produced in Australia, in 1963. Local production ended this week.

Ending its local production after 54 years this week, Toyota remains by far the most popular carmaker in Australia, even outpacing the market with a 4% gain to 17.3% share vs. 18.3% year-to-date. Mazda (-14%) and Hyundai (-12.8%) round up the podium but struggle while Mitsubishi is up 5.4% to 7.1% in 4th place mainly thanks to fleet. Holden, whose Commodore is scheduled to end local production on October 20, falls a harsh 19.6% to just 37 units above archenemy Ford (-6%). Volkswagen (+11.9%), Subaru (+14.6%), Mercedes (+24.5%) and Kia (+26.4%) all post double-digit gains to complete the Top 10. Below, Honda (+16.1%), Skoda (+25%), LDV (+74.4%), Alfa Romeo (+82.7%), Citroen (+86.1%) and Peugeot (+159.2%) lodge the largest year-on-year gain in the remainder of the Top 30, the latter two thanks to a new Australian distributor.

Kia Stinger – Kia delivers the largest year-on-year gain in the Top 10 at +26.4%.First ever Australia Top 10 ranking for the Mitsubishi Outlander.

But the event of the month is to be found in the models ranking. For the first time in history, the Ford Ranger is the best-selling nameplate in Australia, thanks to deliveries up a whopping 49% year-on-year to 4.318 units, setting a new market share record at 4.3%. It is the first time in over six years – since July 2011, the last time the Holden Commodore ranked 1st – that a non-Asian model is #1 in Australia. This month the Ranger accounts for an incredible (/unhealthy?) 63% of Australian Ford sales vs. 54% so far in 2017. For the first time since January 2016, the Ranger outsells its archenemy the Toyota Hilux, itself up a very solid 19% to 3.822 units. In the lucrative 4×4 pickup segment, the Ranger wins even more easily (3.769 vs. 2.907). The Ranger is therefore the second “ute” (Australian slang for pickup) to ever lead Australian sales after the Hilux. Indeed, if having two utes atop of the Australian sales charts now seems like the new normal, it’s only less than a year ago, in October 2016, that it happened for the first time ever. The Hilux however remains 2.609 units above the Ranger year-to-date.

The Ranger is only the second Ford after the Falcon (pictured) to rank #1 in Australia. 

Having a new #1 is a rare occurrence in Australia: the Ranger is only the 9th nameplate in the past 40 years to top the Australian monthly charts at least once, and the second Ford to do so. It follows the Ford Falcon, Holden Commodore (first time in December 1978 and last in July 2011), Toyota Camry (first time in January 1995), Hyundai Excel (in June 1998), Toyota Corolla (first time in September 2005), Toyota Hilux (first time in April 2008), Mazda3 (first time in January 2009) and Hyundai i30 (first time in June 2015). It is somewhat symbolic that as the Thailand-made Ranger takes control of Australian charts, the first three aforementioned nameplates are all ending their decades-long local production run roughly at the same time. See our complete Historical Data section for more details on past Australian sales charts.

Chinese LDV (+74.4%) has launched the T60 in Australia and will launch the D90 SUV in November.

The Toyota Corolla (-11%) is the #1 passenger car in the country above the Mazda3 (-20%) potentially suffering from cannibalisation by the CX-3, up to an excellent #12. The Holden Commodore, soon to be an imported nameplate (the new gen Opel Insignia), is revived up 8% to #5 and the Toyota Camry, which ended local production this week, is up 12% to #7. For the 2nd consecutive month and the third time in the past 4 months the Hyundai Tucson is the best-selling SUV in the country at #8, ahead of a very impressive Mitsubishi Outlander up 81% to enjoy its very first Australian Top 10 ranking at #9. The Mazda CX-5 (-28%) is now just 206 sales above the Tucson year-to-date for the title of #1 SUV it has held for the past four consecutive years. The Kia Cerato (+34%) and Honda Civic (+50%) also make themselves noticed in the Top 20.

First appearance in the Australian sales charts for the Hyundai Kona.

Further down, the Subaru XV (+101%) takes advantage of its facelift to more than double its sales vs. September 2016, the Mercedes C-Class soars 43% to #26, the VW Amarok, now boosted by a new V6 variant, is up 44% to #34, its best ranking since last March, the new Holden Astra maintains itself inside the Top 30, the Toyota C-HR has disappointingly stabilised towards the tail end of the Top 50 (#48 this month) and the Peugeot 3008 is pushed into the Australian Top 100 by its new model, up 17-fold on September 2017 to #93. Chinese fares have retreated towards the end of the ranking, led by the Great Wall Steed (#178), Haval H6 (#186) and MG6 Plus (#197). Among other recent launches, the Range Rover Velar is up 82 spots on August to #106 and the Skoda Kodiaq is stable at #133. We welcome no less than three all-new nameplates in Australia this month: the promising Hyundai Kona at #154, the LDV T60 pickup at #210 and the VW Arteon at #211.

Previous month: Australia August 2017: Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger top record market

One year ago:: Australia September 2016: Corolla in YTD lead, Mazda #1 SUV brand

Full September 2017 Top 50 All-brands and Top 280 All-models below.

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Australia August 2017: Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger top record market

The Toyota Hilux is the best-selling vehicle in Australia for the 6th time in a row. Picture

* NOW UPDATED with the Top 50 All-brands and Top 220 All-models *

The Australian new vehicle market is up 1.8% year-on-year in August to 96.662 units, a new record for the month – and the 4th consecutive record month – lifting the year-to-date total up 0.6% to a record 788.968 sales after eight months. Private sales are up 3.7% to 45.439, business sales down 3.3% to 37.460, rental sales up a whopping 16.3% to 7.213 and government sales down 1.5% to 3.281. SUVs, up 4.7%,  keep the lead with a strong 39.4% share vs. 37.% for passenger cars down 8.2% and 20.2% for light commercials including pickups, up a brilliant 16.7%. All states and territories except Tasmania are up in August, with ACT (+9.4%), Western Australia (rallying back up 4.2%) and Queensland (+3.5%) the best performers. As for vehicle provenance, Japan dominates with 27.429 sales followed by Thailand (24.191), South Korea (14.494), Germany (7.240) and Australia (5.049).

Australian Subaru sales are up 36.2% year-on-year in August. 

In the brands ranking, Toyota skids down 0.7% to solidly hold onto the top spot at a strong 19.2% share, well over double any other manufacturer in the market. Mazda is down 8.1% to 8.8% and Hyundai returns to growth with an impressive 19.3% gain to 8.1% share in third place. Holden (-8.9%), Mitsubishi (+8.4%) and Ford (-3%) follow. Below, a trio of double-digit gainers follows: Volkswagen is up 21.5%, Subaru up a whopping 36.2% and Kia also up 21.5%. Nissan on the other hand freefalls 27.1% in 10th place. Honda (+20.5%) and Isuzu Ute (+29.4%) also impress in the Top 20 while among smaller brands, Alfa Romeo (+134.1%), Peugeot (+70.8%), Chinese Haval (+69.2%), Skoda (+59.5%), Maserati (+33.3%), LDV (+26.4%), Porsche (+19.6%) and Mini (+17.7%) shine. At the other end of the stick, Audi (-28.3%), Fiat (-32.7%), Jaguar (-36.4%), Infiniti (-42.2%), Jeep (-42.5%), Volvo (-44.1%) and Citroen (-57.3%) are all in great difficulty.

The Mitsubishi Outlander is up 21% to #16 in August. 

In the space of a year, the Toyota Hilux has established an implacable domination of the Australian sales charts. August marks the 6th consecutive month at #1 for Toyota’s “ute”, with sales up a booming 29% to 4.4% share, distancing the Ford Ranger up 21% to 3.7%. The Hilux is also #1 in the lucrative 4×4 segment with 3.190 sales vs. 3.067 for the Ranger. The Toyota Corolla (-17%) is the best-selling passenger car at #3 overall above the Mazda3 (-23%) while just below, the Hyundai i30 is back into positive territory at +15%. For the second time in the past three months, the Hyundai Tucson (+33%) is the best-selling SUV in the country, outselling the Mazda CX-5 (+8%). Notice also the Holden Commodore back up 6% to #8, the Mitsubishi Triton up 49% to #10, the Hyundai Accent up 65% to $11, Mitsubishi Outlander up 21% to #16, Nissan Qashqai up 36% to #17 and Isuzu D-Max up 27% to #19.

Previous post: Photo Report: Driving a Toyota Hilux in K’Gari Fraser Island, Australia

Previous month: Australia July 2017: Hilux leads for 5th straight month in record market

One year ago: Australia August 2016: Toyota surges 29%, fleet and rental sales strong

Full August 2017 Top 50 All-brands and Top 220 All-models below.

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Photo Report: Driving a Toyota Hilux on K’gari Fraser Island, Australia

Toyota Hilux on K’Gari Fraser Island

As of 2015, the Toyota Hilux was the best-selling vehicle in an estimated 42 countries in the world, by far the most crowned nameplate on the planet. Stay tuned for an update article coming soon featuring H1 2017 sales. In 2016, the Hilux became the first commercial vehicle to top the Australian annual sales charts, and it is in the lead again so far in 2017. It was high time for BSCB to test-drive this worldwide best-seller, and Toyota Australia kindly loaned us a Hilux Double Cab TD SR5 4×4 2.8L for one week. We decided to take it to spectacular Fraser Island, or K’gari in local Butchulla Aboriginal language (pronounced “Gurri”) which means paradise. But first to find a name for our Hilux. The last loaner we had was a Haval H9 we nicknamed Ivanhoe, so this one needs to start in J. The search quickly narrowed down to Joey, meaning a baby kangaroo, apt for this agile and shining new Hilux.

It all started in Sydney…Fraser Island location in AustraliaFraser Island map

We took hold of the Hilux at Toyota’s Sydney headquarters, and from here to Fraser Island it’s a 15h, 1.250km-long trip traversing countryside New South Wales and Queensland. The return voyage ended up adding 2.639 km to Joey’s odo, all done in four days. K’Gari Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world at 1.840 km2. Yep, that means there isn’t a single rock on the island! It is located 250 km north of Brisbane on the Australian east coast, has a length of 120 km (75 mi) for a width of around 24 km (15 mi). It houses over 100 freshwater lakes that are some of the cleanest in the world. Joey couldn’t resist a splash in one of the freshwater rivers running down into the ocean:

K’Gari Fraser Island has been inhabited by humans for at least 5.000 years and is the home of roughly 200 inhabitants today. It was formerly known as the Great Sandy Island in the late 18th and early 19th century and owes its current name to Eliza Fraser who created what may well be one of the first instances of what we call today “fake news”… Eliza Fraser was the wife of Captain James Fraser, master of the Stirling Castle that struck a reef north of the island in 1836. They landed with the crew on a longboat, then attempting to trek south. Eliza claimed she was captured by the Badtjala people who she wrongly accused of being cannibals. Many other survivors of the same shipwreck later disputed her claims. However, Fraser’s fictional report of her ill-treatment on the island eventually led to the massacre and dispossession of the island’s tribe. The 1976 film “Eliza Fraser” sustained the legend and was at the time the most expensive Australian film ever made.

Access to the barge to Fraser Island (Inskip Point)

As we had booked accomodation in Happy Valley, about half-way up the eastern coast of the island (see map above), we decided to enter Fraser Island from the south, taking the barge from Rainbow beach and Inskip Point. We thought it would be a small yet proper harbour with, well, a sealed street leading to it. None of this in this part of Australia! To reach the barge we first had to cross a pretty deep sand field. My co-driver David and I have no prior experience of sand driving – one of the reasons we wanted to take the Hilux here – so we had just previously lowered the pressure of our tyres slightly, thinking it would be enough with the help of the low range 4WD gear. How naive were we.

Maxtrax recovery tracks

Only a few metres and we got bogged down. After watching us for a few minutes trying to extricate ourselves and just as we were starting to think that Fraser Island would remain unreachable for this trip, two good samaritans (as only they come by in Australia) got us out of here with a pair of bright orange Maxtrax recovery tracks such as the one pictured above. A must-buy for any trip where you are planning to drive in the sand. They also had a valve that automatically lowered our tyres to 100kpa (or 15 psi). Perfect. We were now set.

It turns out, getting bogged down in Inskip Point is at the same time so frequent and so surprising that there is a Facebook Page dedicated to it! Yessir! It’s called “I got bogged at Inskip Point”, has almost 100.000 followers  and features numerous videos of cars getting… well, bogged down. We are now part of an exclusive club!

Joey and the barge to Fraser Island in Inskip Point
Joey on the barge towards Hook Point on Fraser Island

We are the only vehicle on the southern barge to Fraser, with a German backpacker giving us our ticket. Payment is by credit card with the captain perched atop a steep ladder and our National Park entrance fee is only available to purchase online. Thankfully the beaches on Fraser have very good wifi access (!). Upon landing on Hook Point is the real test of our sand driving and the lowered pressure are working a treat: it’s like we’re flying above the sand… Off we go on the exactly named 75 mile Beach. The entire eastern coast of the island is indeed a “beach track” open to vehicles. Only 4WDs are allowed on the island however.

Dingos on Fraser Island

Fraser Island invariably triggers one reaction among Australians: “don’t feed the dingos!” Dingos are a type of free-ranging dogs native to Australia. They are the largest terrestrial predator in Australia and have a prominent role in Aboriginal culture. Dingoes of Fraser Island, estimated to be around 180 to 220, are considered some of the last remaining pure dingoes in the country. As a result and to prevent cross-breeding, dogs are now allowed on the island. Since the 2001 killing of a boy by several dingoes on the island, strict measures have been taken regimenting human interaction with the animals (see card above). You can be heavily fined for feeding dingoes or even leaving food and rubbish out which may attract them.

GPS on the beach40 km/h speed limit sign along the 75 mile Beach

The 75 mile Beach is in effect a sort of sand highway, so much so that speed limit signs have been installed on the side of the beach! As far as I was concerned this was a first for me. It’s rather simple: where freshwater rivulets or rivers cross the beach towards the ocean creating creases, the speed limit goes down to 40 km/h. Otherwise it’s 80 km/h. Seems like a pretty high speed for driving on the sand but, as we’ll explain further down, high(ish) speed on sand isn’t actually a bad thing, rather much needed help. Another peculiarity of the 75 mile Beach “highway” is that the southern part of it towards Hook Point which is where the barge lands isn’t passable at high tide. To add fun to the game, the tides actually vary greatly from day to day, so we ended up being glued to the Fraser Island tide webpage for a good part of our stay on the island and opted to drive when the tide was going down rather than up, “just in case”…

Air Fraser Island plane. Picture wikipedia

One of the other “dangers” of driving on this part of the island is that it also serves as a landing strip for Air Fraser Island planes – these are not seaplanes – which offer touristic overviews of the Island. During my first trip to the island back in 2003, one of these planes landed just next to us and it was a mighty unforgettable sight. We did not have that luck this time but did see a couple of planes take off further along the beach. So in a word, when driving on the 75 mile Beach, you have to pay attention above more so than right or left…

Joey posing next to the shipwreck of the S.S. Maheno

An iconic sight of Fraser Island is the shipwreck of the S.S. Maheno, also located along the east coast of the island. It became beached in 1935 while being towed to Osaka to be broken up. But it doesn’t stop there… During the Second World War, the S.S. Maheno wreck served as target bombing practice for the Royal Australian Air Force. Today, almost three and a half storeys are buried under the sand. Speaking of which, now onto sand driving…

Sand driving on the way back to the bargeOne of Fraser Island inland sand tracks. And yes this is a two-way track! 

Driving on sand turned out to be much easier than expected once our tyre pressure was significantly lowered. That is, if you follow one simple rule: don’t drive slow! Completely counter-intuitive, driving kind of fast on sand is key to avoid getting bogged down. This explains why the speed limit is as high as 80 km/h on some parts of the 75 Mile Beach. On average, driving at around 40 km/h constantly will do the trick. To me, it felt like driving on semi-solid mud, to my co-driver David who also flies planes, the way the car follows the sand tracks and ruts more than obeying your steering reminded him of how a plane feels in windy conditions. A scary part though was driving on one of the inland sand tracks that didn’t allow space for more than one vehicle even though it was a two-way track!

Here’s Joey driving through the last bit of sand we had for him, after arriving back to Inskip Point, before a (very quick) review of the vehicle below. This time we didn’t get bogged in Iskip Point! Too bad for their Facebook Page…

A happy crew!

Sand driving ability: this is why we came to Fraser Island and we weren’t disappointed, once a few basics were applied on our side. Nothing can stop the Hilux outside the beaten tracks and this test drive proved it again.

Interior comfort is top notch, the pickup feels robust to drive yet is very manoeuvrable.

2.8L TD Engine has all the grunt that is needed for this type of trip, be it on sand or on asphalt.

Commands are all very intuitive apart from one (see below)…

Fuel consumption is correct given the size of the vehicle

The main and surprising source of grunts was the GPS: disconcerting at best, frustrating at worst, it’s convoluted to operate, and thus dangerous because requiring complete attention on the screen. Names of hotels cannot be picked up unless you are “near”, the GPS continues to calculate the route once arrived at destination… The list goes on.

A pet hate of mine: for this type of price (AU$ 59.459 driveaway), you’d expect not just the driver seat to be electric but the passenger one as well. It is manual. Feels a tad cheap.

It’s good bye for now Joey!

Australia July 2017: Hilux leads for 5th straight month in record market

Snapping the Hilux near the town of Bolivia, in… Australia!

* NOW UPDATED with the Top 50 All-brands and Top 287 All-models – click on title to see *

The Australian new light vehicle market edges up 1.6% to set a new July record at 92.754 registrations, lifting the year-to-date tally up 0.4% to an all-time record 692.307 units. July marks the fourth monthly record in 2017 and the third in a row. SUVs pull the market up anew with sales gaining 9% year-on-year to earn a 40% market share vs. 38.6% for passenger cars, down 6%. Light commercials (mainly pickup trucks – called utes here) hold 18.3% of the Australian market this month. This slim July gain is the works of artificial channels: private sales are down 0.9% to 41.220 registrations whereas business fleets are up 1.8% to 38.892 and rental sales shoot up 16.5% to 6.756 while government sales are down 6.2% to 2.919.

The Mazda3 is up 64% in July, helping Mazda to a strong 10.3% market share. 

Looking at data by state, the smallest of them all, Northern Territory (Darwin), posts the largest year-on-year improvement at +10%, followed by South Australia (Adelaide) up 8.7%, Victoria (Melbourne) up 4.2%, New South Wales (Sydney) up 1.3% and Queensland (Brisbane) up 0.5%. In terms of production source of the vehicles sold in Australia, Japan in on top as usual with 27.524 sales, ahead of Thailand (21.915), South Korea (13.656), Germany (6.542), Australia (4.821), the United States (4.026) and the United Kingdom (3.163).

The Mazda CX-5 reclaims the title of best-selling SUV in Australia in July. 

Toyota more than ever dominates the brands ranking with sales up 2.7% to 19.3% share, totalling more sales than the next two brands combined, with both its July and year-to-date volumes the highest since 2008. Mazda in 2nd place steps up by a splendid 12.6% to reach 10.3% share, while Hyundai (-1.3%), Holden (-8.5%) and Ford (-9.1%) all stumble. Mitsubishi posts a robust 11.2% gain in 6th place, but the two heroes of the months are Kia, continuing to surf on double-digit gains at +20% – and overtaking Volkswagen to now rank #8 year-to-date – and Subaru up 3 spots on June to #8 and 27.1% on July 2016 to 4.6% market share, thanks to the success of the facelifted XV featuring in the Top 30 best-selling models.

The facelifted XV (+88%) helps Subaru up 27.1% in July.

Model-wise, the Toyota Hilux celebrates a fifth consecutive month in the Australian pole position and 7th time in the past 12 months thanks to deliveries up 19% year-on-year. The Hilux 7 months tally is a record for the nameplate in Australia. For once the Hilux also leads the 4×4 ranking with 2.802 sales vs. 2.627 for the Ford Ranger which remains the leader YTD. The Toyota Corolla jumps up to #2 despite dropping 6%, overtaking the Ranger (+7%) still #2 overall so far in 2017. The Mazda3 (+64%) compensates for a very low base in July 2016 while the Toyota Camry (+10%) lands at an excellent 5th place and is headed for its best year in a decade.

The new Holden Astra is slowly but surely climbing up the charts: #24 this month. 

At #6, the Mazda CX-5 (+19%) reclaims the #1 SUV spot the Hyundai Tucson (#9) snapped last month, with the Toyota RAV4 (#8) sliding in-between. Hyundai i30 sales continue to be in negative (-4%) as the 2016 base was heavily discounted volumes of the outgoing previous generation. Further down, notice the Mitsubishi Triton (+27%), ASX (+37%) and Nissan X-Trail (+48%) posting generous gains, the Holden Commodore (-13%) climbing back up seven spots to #12 and reclaiming the title of Holden best-seller off the Colorado (#17) just as the Astra continues to improve at #21 (+7 spots on June). As mentioned above, the Subaru XV (+88%) has a stellar month in 23rd place.

Previous month: Australia June 2017: Hyundai Tucson up to #4 in all-time record month

One year ago: Australia July 2016: Corolla back to #1, Hilux and Ranger fight

Full July 2017 Top 50 All-brands and Top 287 All-models below.

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Australia June 2017: Hyundai Tucson up to #4 in all-time record month

The Hyundai Tucson posts the highest ever monthly sales for an SUV in Australia.

* Now updated with the Top 50 All-brands and Top 282 All-models – see title *

The Australian new vehicle market is up 4.4% year-on-year in June to smash the all-time record monthly result and lift it to 134.171 units according to data released by VFACTS. In other words, never in history have Australian buyers purchased that many vehicle in a single month. This result puts the year-to-date tally into positive territory at +0.2% to a record 599.552 registrations halfway through the year. Once again SUVs outsell passenger cars at 51.393 vs. 50.646 with light commercials (including pickups) up 12.2% to 28.253. Private sales amount to 68.150 and business/fleet sales to 52.039. So far in 2017, sales of 4×4 pick-ups are up 9.2%, SUVs are up 5% but passenger cars are down 6.8%.

The Toyota Hilux is the best-selling nameplate in Australia for the 4th straight month. 

No surprises atop the brands ranking, Toyota is by far in the lead, even beating the market with a 11.2% gain to 24.546 sales, missing out on its all-time monthly record of 25.624 in June 2008 by a little over 1.000 units. Mazda is up 0.4% to an all-time record monthly result of 12.501, edging past Hyundai down 0.4% to 12.251. Holden is back up to #4 but freefalls 18.5% and is threatened by Mitsubishi up 6.2% to end the month only nine units below. For the 2nd month in a row, there are no Holdens inside the Top 10 best-selling nameplates. Ford (+6.5%) is down two spots on May to #6 while Kia is the best performer in the Top 10 once again with a 30.3% surge to an all-time record 6.737 sales. Its 7th place and 5% share are also records, already hit last April. Volkswagen (+8.7%) also shines in 9th place and Honda (+2.8%) hits its best monthly volume in almost a decade.

First month above 5.000 sales for the Ford Ranger. Picture

The Toyota Hilux is the best-selling nameplate in Australia for the fourth consecutive month and the 6th time in the past 10 months thanks to deliveries up 18% to 5.461, the first time the Hilux ever crosses the monthly 5.000 unit-mark, with its previous best being 4.931 back in June 2013. The Ford Ranger also smashes its personal monthly record with sales up 24% on its previous best of 4.078 in June 2016 to lift it to 5.051, also its first time above 5.000 monthly units. The Toyota Corolla (-13%) is distanced, almost one percentage point of market share below. But the records don’t stop here: thanks to sales up whopping 153% year-on-year, the Hyundai Tucson soars to an all-time high 4th place (previous best: 5th in January 2016) and at 3.741 units its smashes the previous monthly record for an SUV which was until now detailed by the Mazda CX-5 at 2.662 last September. In fact, with this tremendous performance, the Hyundai Tucson surges just 88 units below the CX-5 year-to-date as the race to #1 SUV in Australia frankly heats up. In third place, the Toyota RAV4 is up 18% to #10 overall.

Kia sales are up 30.3% to an all-time monthly record 6.737 units. 

Previous month: Australia May 2017: Hilux vs. Ranger new iconic rivalry in record market

One year ago: Australia June 2016: Hyundai i30 tops biggest month ever

Full June 2017 Top 50 All-brands and Top 282 All-models ranking tables below.

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Australia May 2017: Hilux vs. Ranger new iconic rivalry in record market

The Toyota Hilux remains the best-selling nameplate in Australia…

* See the Top 50 All-brands and Top 283 All-models by clicking on the title *

According to figures released by VFACTS, the Australian new vehicle market posts an all-time record May figure, up a sizeable 6.4% year-on-year to 102.901 units. As a result, the year-to-date tally is now down just 0.9% or 4.190 sales on the 2016 record to 465.381 units after five months and could get even next month in the case of a strong June showing. This month the growth is spread through private sales up 3.4% to 49.051 and business sales up 5% to 40.538. Rental fleet sales surge 48% to 5.910 and government sales are up 10% to 4.187. Looking at the country provenance of vehicles sold in Australian this month, Japan comes first with 29.907 units followed by Thailand at 25.729, South Korea at 14.868, Germany at 7.964 and Australia at 4.965.

… but its advantage over the Ford Ranger is only 85 units in May. Picture

Another piece of good news is the fact that in May all States and Territories gain ground bar the Australian Capital Territory (-3%). Victoria performs the best at +11.3%, followed by the Northern Territory up 8.1%, Queensland up 5.7%, New South Wales up 5.1%, South Australia up 3.1%, Western Australia up 2.8% and Tasmania up 2.5%. This result is particularly encouraging for Western Australia, a State that had been stuck in negative territory for a couple of years. SUVs resume their domination of the market and outsell passenger cars for the third time in the past four months thanks to sales up 9.4% vs. +1.6% to passenger cars. SUVs hold 38.5% of the Australian market this month vs. 37.7% for passenger cars, with light commercials (mainly “utes” or pickup trucks) also up 9.4% in May. Year-to-date, passenger cars are down 7.1%, SUVs up 3.2% and light commercials up 3.5%. Other notable progressions include business sales of SUVs up 14.9% and government purchase of light commercials up 31.7%.

The new generation helps the Mazda CX-5 remains atop the SUV sales charts in Australia.

Brand leader Toyota frankly outpaces the market with a 15.6% surge to 19.3% share vs. 18.2% year-to-date. This is Toyota’s best May result since 2012 and the fifth time in the past 11 months that the Japanese carmaker is above 19% share in Australia. Toyota sells more than double the #2, Mazda, up a timid 3.1% while Hyundai is down 7.7% on volumes boosted by deep i30 discounts a year ago. Ford is the other winner of the month with deliveries up a splendid 15.7% to 7.4% share, historically overtaking its archenemy Holden down 6.6% to 6.7% share. This is only the second time this millennium after April 2016 that Ford is above Holden in Australia, the previous one being January 1999 exactly when Ford sold 8.591 units vs. 8.335 for Holden…

Kia sales are up 41.3% year-on-year and surpass 5.000 for only the 2nd time in history.

Ranking at #9 below Volkswagen (+11.3%), the “most improved” award in the Top 10 once again goes to Kia up 41.3% to 5.005 sales, its second ever month above 5.000 units after June 2016 (5.170) and its second best market share at 4.9% below the 5% hit last month. Just outside the Top 10, Honda does even better at +43.4% thanks to the new generation Civic (1.311 sales), with Isuzu Ute (+26.2%), Renault (+40.1% thanks to the Koleos), Foton Light (+125%), Alfa Romeo (+86.5%) and Maserati (+30.6%) also impressive. At the other end of the scale, BMW (-18.9%), Jeep (-28.1%), Land Rover (-28.9%), Peugeot (-32.9%) and Citroen (-47.8%) all struggle.

The Holden Colorado (+36%) outsells the Commodore (-18%) for the 2nd straight month. 

The Australian models ranking is fast settling into a new normal: having two pickup trucks (or “utes” as they are called here) atop the sales charts. It had never happened before last October, but it’s now the third consecutive month and the fifth time in the past eight months that the Toyota Hilux (+13%) and Ford Ranger (+31%) dominate the market. This month the Hilux only wins by the skin of its teeth with a tiny 85 unit-advantage, both nameplates commanding a 4% share of the market. As it has now become the routine, the Ranger 4×4 outsells the Hilux 4×4 (3.384 vs. 3.036) while the Hilux 4×2 compensates at 1.018 vs. 685 for the Ranger 4×2.

The Mustang hits its highest volume, helping Ford above Holden. Picture

The two utes are followed by three passenger cars all in decline: the Toyota Corolla (-5%), Hyundai i30 (-29%) back up two spots on April now that the new generation is in dealerships but off an exceptionally high, rebate-boosted volume a year ago, and the Mazda3 (-20%). The Mazda CX-5 gains 9% with the help of the new model and holds onto the #1 SUV spot ahead of the Hyundai Tucson (+30%) now #7 year-to-date, the Nissan X-Trail (+30%) and Toyota RAV4 (+17%) all improving drastically and making it four SUVs in the Top 10, a record. Notice also the Toyota Camry up 54% to #7, the Holden Colorado up 36% and outselling the Commodore for the 2nd straight month, the Mitsubishi ASX up 40%, Kia Cerato up 69%, Toyota Prado up 38% and Mitsubishi Outlander up 34%. Finally, the Ford Mustang hits its highest ranking at #23 and delivers its first four-digit monthly sales figure at 1.351.

Previous month: Australia April 2017: Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger cement leadership

One year ago: Australia May 2016: Hyundai i30 leads, 133 units off YTD top spot

Full May 2017 Top 50 All-brands and Top 283 All-models below.

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Australia April 2017: Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger cement leadership

The Toyota Hilux is the best-selling nameplate in Australia this month.

* Now updated with the Top 45 All-brands and Top 278 All-models *

According to VFACTS figures released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, the Australian new car market continues its decline in April with registrations down 5.1% to 83.135, bringing the year-to-date tally down 2.8% to 362.480. The fall would have been much significant were it not for business sales up 1.7% and overtaking private sales down 13% while government sales are down 15% and rental sales up 26%, the latter two with small volumes. After two months of SUV domination, passenger cars are back above SUVs even though they fall 12% while SUVs are up 1%. Light commercial vehicles are up 3%. Of note within segments are medium SUVs up 10% and 4×4 utes (Australian slang for pickup trucks) up 11.1%.

Looking at the origin of vehicles sold in Australia, the most popular locations are Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Germany and Australia. Looking at sales by state, all states and territories are in negative with the two largest selling states, New South Wales (Sydney) and Victoria (Melbourne) losing the least ground at -2.8% and the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra) and Western Australia (Perth) losing the most. Tony Weber, the Chief Executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, said that market activity during April was affected by the impact of the Easter long weekend break, Anzac Day and national school holidays. “There were two less selling days overall in April this year compared with last, but added to this was the dampening effect that the holiday period had on dealership traffic as many families headed off to enjoy a final break before winter,” Mr Weber said.

In the brands ranking, both Toyota (-3%) and Mazda (+2%) do better than the market but Hyundai (-21%), Holden (-13%) and Ford (-15%) fare worse. Note Holden is only two meagre units above Ford this month while a year ago in April 2016 Ford was ahead. Subaru (+22%), Mitsubishi (+31%) and Kia (+36%) go against the grain inside the Top 10 with fantastic increases but Nissan (-17%) and Volkswagen (-18%) struggle. Outside the Top 10, Honda (+34%), LDV (+50%), Alfa Romeo (+36%) and Maserati (+34%) make themselves noticed.

Over in the models ranking, for only the fourth time ever after last OctoberNovember and March, two utes dominate the ranking: the Toyota Hilux (+1%) and Ford Ranger (+5%). The big news this month is the fact that these two nameplates are now also in the lead year-to-date thanks to a 9% and 17% increase respectively. The Toyota Corolla (-14%) and Mazda3 (-8%) are relegated in third and fourth places like last year. Potentially helped by the new generation of the model, the Mazda CX-5 is up 29% to 5th place and remains the best-selling SUV in the country. The Hyundai i30 tumbles down 52% just as stocks of the previous generation model dry up in the wake of the arrival of the new one. At #12, the Holden Commodore slips outside the Top 10 for the first time since January 2016 and is outsold this month by the Colorado. Notice also the Mitsubishi ASX up 58%, the Outlander up 125% and the Subaru Impreza up 177% while the Toyota C-HR breaks into the Top 50 at #47.

Previous month: Australia March 2017: Hilux leads, SUVs beat passenger cars again

One year ago: Australia April 2016: Hyundai i30 #1 again, Ford above Holden for first time in 17 years

Full April 2017 Top 45 All-brands and Top 278 All-models below.

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