Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

Toyota pulls out: end of Australian car manufacturing now a reality

February 10th, 2014 No comments

Toyota pulls out of Australia 10 Feb 2014

Toyota Australia just announced one hour ago it is set to cease local manufacturing in 2017, spelling the end of carmaking in Australia. In a press release, the Japanese carmaker announced “Together with one of the most open and fragmented automotive markets in the world and increased competitiveness due to current and future Free Trade Agreements, it is not viable to continue building cars in Australia. This is devastating news for all of our employees who have dedicated their lives to the company during the past 50 years.” Toyota Australia President and CEO, Max Yasuda told staff.

Toyota Camry AustraliaProduction of the Camry and all other Australian-built Toyotas will cease by 2017. 

“We did everything that we could to transform our business, but the reality is that there are too many factors beyond our control that make it unviable to build cars in Australia. Although the company has made profits in the past, our manufacturing operations have continued to be loss making despite our best efforts.” The Altona, Victoria plant is currently producing the Camry, Camry Hybrid and Aurion for the local and export market, with the production figure standing at just 104,000 cars for 2013.

This news comes only months after both Ford (last May) and Holden (last December) announced they would pull out of manufacturing in Australia, writing Australia off the list of car manufacturing countries from 2017 onwards. I predicted this domino effect in my previous articles Holden pulls out: this is the end of Australian car manufacturingAustralia: What the press is saying about Holden leaving and Australia: Is the end of local manufacturing near?. Australia had been making cars for 66 years.

Previous Australia car manufacturing posts:

Ford pulls out of Australia (23 May 2013)

Australia: Is the end of local manufacturing near? (25 June 2013)

Holden pulls out: this is the end of Australian car manufacturing (11 December 2013)

Australia: What the press is saying about Holden leaving (12 December 2013)

Categories: Australia

Australia January 2014: Mazda3 up to highest market share ever

February 5th, 2014 2 comments

Mazda3 Australia January 2014. Picture courtesy of to the new model, the Mazda3 hits its highest ever market share in Australia this month.

* NOW UPDATED with the Top 10 models and Top 47 All-brands! *

After beating another all-time record over the Full Year 2013, new car sales in Australia are a little shy in this start of 2014: down 4% on a record January 2013 to 82,285 registrations. Toyota unsurprisingly keeps the brands top spot but sees its market share slide to 16.6% vs. 18.9% over the Full Year 2013. Mazda (+6%) passes Holden (+1%) to rank #2 with an outstanding 11.4% share, Hyundai (+5%) remains above Ford (-12%) while Volkswagen (+6%) is now threatening Nissan (-41%) and Mitsubishi (-7%). Mercedes is up a splendid 15% to #11, Jeep continues to amaze at +22% and #12 and Audi lodges its all-time record monthly volume in Australia at 1,685 sales, up 25% year-on-year.

Toyota Corolla Australia January 2014. Picture courtesy of new Toyota Corolla sedan will be imported from Thailand from February onwards.

In the models ranking, a combination of heavily discounted previous generations and early deliveries of the new model propel the Mazda3 up 36% year-on-year to a huge 4,561 sales and 5.5% share, its 2nd best-ever monthly volume in the country below the 4,649 units it sold in December 2012, and an all-time record market share, beating the 5.3% it reached in January 2012… As a reminder, the Mazda3 dominated Australian sales in 2011 and 2012 before being passed by the Toyota Corolla last year. This month the Corolla is left knocked out almost 2 percentage points below the Mazda3 at #2 with 2,941 units and 3.6%, however the launch of the new gen Corolla sedan this month should make things very interesting indeed this year…

Mazda CX-5 Australia January 2014. Picture courtesy of Mazda CX-5 reaches an all-time high 7th place in Australia this month.

Further down the ranking, notice the Hyundai i30 up 24% year-on-year to #4, the Holden Commodore up 43% to #5, the Ford Focus reaching its 2nd best-ever ranking in the country at #6 below the #5 it hit exactly one year ago in January 2013, the VW Golf up a whopping 84% year-on-year to #9 and the Jeep Grand Cherokee up to a best-ever #14 (ranking TBC). Finally, the Mazda CX-5 is up 5 spots on December to reach an all-time high 7th place this month with 1,853 sales and a record 2.3% share, its previous bests being #8 in May and August last year and 2.1% last August.

Previous post: Australia Full Year 2013 by State: Toyota Hilux tops 3 states

Full Year 2013 report: Australia Full Year 2013: Toyota Corolla finally tops record market

Previous month: Australia December 2013: Toyota Camry and Mitsubishi Triton up

One year ago: Australia January 2013: Nissan Navara and Ford Focus break records

Full January 2014 Top 10 models and Top 47 All-brands Ranking Tables below.

Read more…

Categories: Australia

Australia Full Year 2013 by State: Toyota Hilux tops 3 States

January 23rd, 2014 6 comments

Toyota Hilux 2014 Australia3Toyota Hilux

* See the Top 10 best-selling models in each Australian State by clicking on the title! *

* Check out the Australia Full Year 2013 Report here! *

This article is sponsored by

Thanks to Elise at Toyota Australia I can share with you the 10 most popular models in each State/Territory of Australia, and this for the third year in a row. You won’t find this ranking anywhere else on the web! It is a fascinating range of rankings indeed as the tastes of customers vary wildly depending on where they live on the country-continent that is Australia. The Toyota Hilux, #3 overall, tops 3 States: Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia. The Toyota Corolla, leader overall this year and for the first time ever, tops 2 States (New South Wales and Tasmania) while the Mazda3 leads Victoria like in 2012 and the Holden Commodore is back to pole position in South Australia where it is manufactured, whereas it didn’t top any State last year…

Hyundai ix35 Australia 2013. Picture courtesy of Hyundai ix35 is among the Top 10 best-sellers in New South Wales.

Fittingly, the Top 7 best-selling models in the biggest State of the country, New South Wales, are identical to the national ranking. Two SUVs invite themselves inside the NSW Top 10: the Mazda CX-5 at #8 and the Hyundai ix35 at #10. More analysis will follow shortly. In Victoria, the Ford Territory, produced in that State, manages to stay #6 with a splendid 7,473 sales vs. #20 nationally, while in Queensland (the third biggest State in the country), no less than 6 utes (Australian for pick-up trucks) find their way into the Top 10! The Hilux leads, the Nissan Navara is up to a fantastic #4 vs. #9 nationally, the Mitsubishi Triton is at #5 vs. #7, the Ford Ranger at #7 vs. #10, Holden Colorado at #8 vs. #15 and most impressively the Mazda BT-50 is #10 vs. #24 nationally.

Mazda BT-50 Australia 2013. Picture courtesy of Mazda BT-50 is #10 in Queensland vs. #24 nationally.

In Western Australia, the Hyundai i30 is up to a fantastic 2nd place (a ranking it also hits in Canberra), with Hyundai placing no less than 3 models inside the Top 10 along with the ix35 at #7 and the i20 at #8 vs. only one nationally. The Ford Ranger at #5 and the Toyota Prado at #9 also shine. Holden does a 1-2 “at home” in South Australia with the Commodore and Cruze leading the way and the Ford Focus popping up at #10.

Ford Falcon Australia  2013. Picture courtesy of nrmaThe Ford Falcon is up to #2 in Tasmania.

The last 3 States/Territories are rather niche (less than 20,000 registrations this year vs. 351,000 for New South Wales) but display distinctively different models rankings. The Ford Falcon is up 35% to a stunning 2nd spot in Tasmania vs. -24% and #35 nationally, the Mitsubishi Triton is up to #4 and the Subaru Forester lodges its only Top 10 ranking at #9. In the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra), the VW Golf stays at a splendid 4th place, making the Top 5 100% compact cars along with the Mazda3, Hyundai i30, Toyota Corolla and Holden Cruze.

Toyota Land Cruiser Australia 2013. Picture courtesy of Toyota Land Cruiser Wagon is #6 in Northern Territory.

As usual Northern Territory, the smallest in the country, is the odd one out with no less than 7 Toyotas in the Top 10. The Hilux is the most popular model by far with a huge 11.3% market share, followed by the Corolla and Prado like last year, while the Land Cruiser ute is #6 vs. #45 nationally, the Land Cruiser wagon #8 vs. #39 and the RAV4 #9 vs. #16.

Previous year: Australia Full Year 2012: Now with exclusive rankings by State!

Two years ago: Australia Full Year 2011 by state: Toyota Hilux king 3 times

Full Year 2013 Top 10 models Ranking Tables by State below.

Read more…

Categories: Australia

Australia Q4 2013: Jeep Grand Cherokee shines

January 16th, 2014 No comments

Jeep Grand Cherokee Australia December 2013. Picture courtesy of Grand Cherokee

* See the Top 295 All-models ranking by clicking on the title! *

The Full Year 2013 Report is here! *

After giving you December and Full Year 2013 figures, let’s have a look at the last quarter of the year in detail in Australia, so we can track how well recent launches are faring. The top of the ranking is identical to the Full Year results with the Toyota Corolla leading the Mazda3 and Toyota Hilux, while the Holden Commodore and Toyota Camry are each up one spot to #4 and #5, passing the Hyundai i30 at #6. Other great performers in the Top 30 include the VW Golf at #8 vs. #12 over the Full Year, the Jeep Grand Cherokee testing new waters for the brand at #16 and 1.5% share vs. #27 and 1.1% in 2013, the Toyota Kluger at #20 vs. #28 and, surprisingly, the Ford Falcon back up to #21 and 1.2% share vs. #35 and 0.9% over the Full Year.

Ford Falcon Australia December 2013. Picture courtesy of nrmaLast hurrah for the Ford Falcon?

Further down, the Mitsubishi ASX is up to #34 vs. #46, the VW Amarok continues to climb the ladder step by step at #41 vs. #49, the Holden Trax is up to #63, scoring 77% of its annual sales over this quarter, the Nissan Pathfinder is up to #66 vs. #108 thanks to the new model, the Nissan Juke is up to #87 with 96% of its annual sales, the Mercedes CLA up to #102 with 87% of 2013 sales over this quarter, Renault Clio up to #117 with 67% thanks to the 4th generation arriving in Aussie dealerships, the Nissan Altima at #146 with 94%.

Isuzu MU-X Australia December 2013. Picture courtesy of MU-X

We have 7 models making their very first appearance in the Australian ranking over the period: the Lexus ES at #155 with 187 sales, the Ford Ecosport at #170 with 128 units, Isuzu MU-X at #178 with 120 sales, the Suzuki S-Cross and Proton Exora both with 50 units, weirdly the Opel Zafira Tourer with 12 even though the carmaker has now quit Australia less than a year after launching here, and the Proton Suprema S with 3 units sold over the period.

Full Year post: Australia Full Year 2013: Toyota Corolla finally tops record market

December post: Australia December 2013: Toyota Camry and Mitsubishi Triton up

Full Q4 2013 Top 295 models Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: Australia

Australia Full Year 2013: Toyota Corolla finally tops record market

January 16th, 2014 8 comments

Toyota Corolla Australia 2013. Picture courtesy of Australian crown in the Toyota Corolla’s 50 year life.

* NOW UPDATED with the Top 307 All-models & Top 50 brands! *

* Check out Australian Historical Data spanning the last 65 years here *

* Check out Annual Australian sales figures for the Corolla since 1967 here *.

The Australian new car market smashed the all-time record it established last year by 24,000 sales and 2% in 2013 to 1,136,227 registrations. Australians have now purchased more than one million vehicles for the 4th year running and the 6th time overall. Experts predicts another record in 2014 at 1.145 million units. Aside from record sales figures, it was a tough year for the Australian automotive industry, with both Ford (in May) and Holden (in December) announcing the end of their local manufacturing operations, essentially leaving Toyota as the sold local producer. This being not a sustainable situation, 2013 will possibly remain as the year that triggered the end of automotive manufacturing in Australia.

Renault Clio Australia 2013. Picture courtesy of is the best performing manufacturer in the Top 20: +40%

Brand-wise, Toyota is the first manufacturer in over 30 years to manage to lead the ranking for 11 years in a row thanks to 214,630 sales, more than 100,000 ahead of any other carmaker. Holden is still #2 but delivers its weakest annual volume in two decades at 112,059 units and falls below 10% share potentially for the first time in the history of the brand. In fact in February the brands podium was 100% Japanese (Toyota-Mazda-Nissan) for the first in the history of automobile in Australia! Mazda is stable at #3 but now threatened by Hyundai up 6% to #4, which even outsold Holden for the first time in March! Overall though, the Top 10 brands are unchanged vs. 2012 and the best performing carmaker in the Top 20 this year is Renault up 40% to #19, with other great gainers including Mitsubishi (+22%), Mercedes, Jeep (+23%), BMW (+10%) and Audi (+11%).

Hyundai i30 Australia 2013. Picture courtesy of Hyundai i30 reaches a record 4th place in Australia in 2013.

But the big headline this year in Australia is the arrival of the Toyota Corolla in pole position for the first time, as I predicted one year ago in my Australian forecast for 2013. It is also the first time Toyota places any model in the year-end top spot even though it has been the most popular manufacturer in the country on and off for two decades. In spite of a last minute December surge by the Madza3, leader in 2011 and 2012, the Toyota Corolla is the best-seller in 2013 thanks to sales up 12% to 43,498 vs. 42,082 and -5% for the 3. The Toyota Hilux (-2%) completes a podium 100% imported for only the second time since the 1930s, the first being last year, and delivers its strongest ever month in June at 4,931 sales.

Holden Commodore Australia 2013The new generation limits the Commodore’s fall to 9% this year.

The Hyundai i30 is up 2 spots and 8% on last year to #4 with 30,582 sales and 2.7%, the nameplate’s new all-time high ranking and annual volume, while the Holden Commodore limits its fall to 9% thanks to the arrival of the new VF generation at #5 and 27,766 units, still the nameplate’s lowest ever annual tally. Before the VF launch, the Commodore fell below 2% share at home for the first time ever in January and dropped outside the monthly Top 10 for the first time ever in March but was back on the monthly podium in October thanks to the new gen.

Holden Colorado Australia 2013The Holden Colorado delivers an all-time high annual volume and market share in 2013.

Utes (Australian for pick-up trucks) are strong this year with 5 inside the Top 15 and 3 of them reaching record annual figures. The Mitsubishi Triton is up 32% and 4 spots to #7 with 24,512 sales and 2.2%, its highest ever ranking, volume and share. It broke its monthly ranking twice this year to #5 (February) then #4 (May). the Ford Ranger is up 20% to #10 at 21,652 units and 1.9% – all records, while the Holden Colorado is up 29% to #15 with 17,203 sales and 1.5%, new volume and share highs.

Mazda CX-5 Australia 2013. Picture courtesy of Mazda CX-5 becomes Australia’s most popular SUV in 2013.

2013 is the year of the SUV in Australia: this category grows 4 times as fast as the market at +8%. The Mazda CX-5 is the new SUV king as early as for its first full year in market, up 27% to #11 with 20,129 sales and 1.8%, breaking its monthly ranking record in May to #8. Hyundai solved supply issues for the ix35 by sourcing the Czech model and as a result saw the nameplate shoot up 67% to #13 and 19,098 units, even breaking into the Top 10 for the first time in May at #9. For its part the Toyota RAV4 surged by 16% to land at #16 with 16,983 sales, the nameplate’s strongest ever annual volume, breaking into the Top 10 for the first time in its 20 year-history in August.

The analysis continues below.

Previous post: Australia December 2013: Toyota Camry and Mitsubishi Triton up

Previous year: Australia Full Year 2012: No local model on podium for first time since 1930s

Two years ago: Australia Full Year 2011: Mazda3 breaks 15 years of Holden Commodore domination

More analysis, Full Year 2013 Top 307 All-models and Top 50 brands below.

Read more…

Categories: Australia

Australia December 2013: Toyota Camry and Mitsubishi Triton up

January 6th, 2014 4 comments

Mitsubishi Triton Australia December 2013. Picture courtesy of Mitsubishi Triton hits its highest market share ever in Australia this month.

* NOW UPDATED with the Top 20 best-selling models & Top 47 All-brands! *

* The Full Year 2013 Report is here! *

New car sales in Australia are up 1% year-on-year to 96,756 registrations in December, bringing the final 2013 total to a new record of 1,136,227 units, up 24,000 or 2% on 2012 which was already an all-time high. December figures are always a little biased by end-of-year promotions in Australia and 2013 is no exception. Mazda tried as hard as they could to keep the Mazda3 on top of the annual models sales charts for a third consecutive year and managed to place it in first position for the first time since last August and the 5th time this year with 4,022 sales and 4.2%, but this was insufficient to prevent the Toyota Corolla to be crowned Australia’s best-seller for the first time. Selling 3,704 units in December, the Corolla finishes the year at 43,498 sales vs. 42,082 for the Mazda3. More on this milestone in the Full Year 2013 report.

Toyota Camry Australia December 2013. picture courtesy of Camry

In a fantastic third place, its best ranking in one year, the Toyota Camry is the best-selling locally-produced model this month thanks to 3,534 sales and 3.4% vs. 2,547 and 2.6% for the Holden Commodore at #6. The Mitsubishi Triton is the other star of the month: up 5 spots on November, it ranks 5th with 3,021 units and 3.1%, its highest market share in the country so far and 4th time it breaks into the monthly Australian Top 5 this year (and ever) after last February, May and June.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Australia December 2013. Picture courtesy of the Jeep Grand Cherokee go any further up? It hits an all-time high #15 this month.

The Nissan Navara at #8 and Holden Colorado at #9 make it 4 utes in the Top 9, while at #10 the Hyundai ix35 manages to break into the monthly Top 10 for only the second time ever after last May and the Jeep Grand Cherokee continues its astounding progression to break into the Top 15 for the very first time at #15 with 1,431 sales and 1.5%, pushing Jeep to #12 brand this month vs. #14 in the Full Year and #15 in 2012. Notice also Fiat up 464% to #18, Alfa Romeo up 215% to #24 and Porsche up 304% to #28.

Previous month: Australia November 2013: Hyundai i30 and VW Golf shine

One year ago: Australia December 2012: Mazda3 and Toyota Camry amaze again

Full December 2013 Top 20 models and Top 47 All-brands Ranking Tables below.

Read more…

Categories: Australia

Happy New Year 2014 and Sydney Photo Report Part 2

January 1st, 2014 2 comments

1 Ford Falcon Sydney December 2013bFord Falcon

* See the Full Photo Report by clicking on the title! *

Now that most of the globe has passed the milestone, I wish to all my readers a wonderful new year 2014, may it be the best so far! To celebrate, I thought I would share with you a second Photo Report for Sydney Australia and its surroundings. You can find the first Photo Report here. Hope you enjoy!

2 Datsun Pickup Sydney December 2013Datsun Pick-up

3 Alfa Romeo Spider Sydney December 2013Alfa Romeo Spider

4 Mercedes 280S Sydney December 2013Mercedes 280S

5 Holden Kingswood Sydney December 2013Holden Kingswood

6 Hyundai i30 Audi Q7 Entrance December 2013Hyundai i30 and Audi Q7 in The Entrance, New South Wales Australia

7 Ford Territory Bateau Bay December 2013Ford Territory and Hyundai Elantra in Bateau Bay, New South Wales Australia

8 Mazda BT50 Bateau Bay January 2014Mazda BT-50 in Bateau Bay, New South Wales Australia

Full Photo Report below.

Read more…

Categories: Australia

Australia: What the press is saying about Holden leaving

December 13th, 2013 3 comments

Holden press review 12 December 2013I told you it was big news here… (first time I bought that many newspapers on the same day!)

* See the Full article by clicking on the title! *

Now that we all have had time to digest the news that Holden will close its Australian operations in 2017, it’s time to review how the local press has taken the event. My striking observation is that a majority of publications actually agree with the decision, illustrating the pragmatism that characterises Australian society today. The Australian’s Dennis Shanahan declares ”the politics of the closure of Holden’s plants (is) an empty sham full of mock surprise and pointless blame-shifting. Holden’s demise has been expected for years and no amount of taxpayer-funded bailouts was going to keep Holden open.” The Sydney Morning Herald‘s Elizabeth Knight goes even further: “Good riddance to the great Australian con – that we need a local car manufacturing industry. We, as Australians, really need to move on. We need to recognise that we carry no natural economic advantage (in the car manufacturing industry). The fact Australia has persevered as long as it has is one of the more staggering elements in this vexed and emotionally charged debate.” Even if I tend to agree, these opinions are delivered in a particularly harsh way and it is fascinating that such views dominate the scene.

Mike Devereux. Picture courtesy of The Sydney Morning HeraldMike Devereux walks from his announcement on December 11.

On the constructive side, The Sydney Morning Herald‘s Peter Hartcher says this “can be a jolt to national action”, pointing out that “the test of an economy is not what it can preserve but what it can create; not how much subsidy it can pay but what profitable investment it can generate” and reminding us all that “the car industry has been given $19 billion in handouts and tariff protection over the past decade” with the result being “not a thriving industry but a sad kind of industrial charity.” He adds the “the passing of Holden will create a twinge of nostalgia because it holds a place in Australia’s past, but not its future.” And “one of the few things Julia Gillard (Australia’s previous PM) and Tony Abbott (the current one) used to agree on was that if you wanted a prosperous modern economy, you had to have a car industry. This was news to Switzerland. And Singapore. And Norway. And Denmark. None of these had any car manufacturing, yet all are among the top-10 richest countries in income per person.”

The Sydney Morning Herald 12 Dec 2013(Click to enlarge) Early Holden history and fiery question time at Parliament

The Daily Telegraph points out the “manufacturing malaise” in Australia, listing all carmakers to abandon the country recently: Nissan in 1992, Mitsubishi in 2008, Ford in 2016 and Holden in 2017, with Toyota’s long-term future “uncertain”.  The same newspaper also lists the main milestones of Holden’s “iconic history” in the country, including the fact that one in two cars on the road in Australia back in 1958 was a Holden – to be compared with 5% of all new cars sold today being a locally made Holden… The one millionth Holden was sold in 1962, five millionth in 1990 and seven millionth in 2008. In 1978, the year the Commodore nameplate was launched, Holden celebrated 25 years of continuous sales leadership. In 1991 Toyota beat both Holden and Ford to rank #1 brand for the first time, but Holden would have a go until 2002, the last year it ever ranked first.

Full article featuring Holden sales forecast below.

Read more…

Categories: Australia

Australia December 2013: Sydney Photo Report Part 1

December 13th, 2013 No comments

1969 International Scout Sydney December 20131969 International Scout

See the Full Photo Report by clicking on the title – Click on the pictures to enlarge! *

Following the success of my Trans-Siberian Long Term Photo series, I have decided to share with you what can be seen in the streets of Sydney, Australia where I reside. It never occurred to me to do this before, simply because these are I see every day, but I thought it might interesting for you readers living far away. Hope you enjoy, and stay tuned for more Photo Reports throughout the Australian summer! We start with a lovely turquoise International Scout, originally launched in 1969. International is nowadays known for their F**-off trucks competing with the likes of Mack, but this American brand born over one hundred years ago in 1902 used to manufacture a whole range of light commercial vehicles and 4WD, including this pick-up jeep which really looks like an oversized toy.

MG6 GT Sydney December 2013aMG6 GT

As I have described in my latest Australian sales update, MG has been reintroduced in the country in 2013 but does not appear in the sales rankings yet because no official data is being released for now. I spotted my very first ‘true’ MG6 (read anywhere else than in the Parramatta road dealership) parked in Darlinghurst, one of the more upmarket suburbs of Sydney, pictured above.

1974 Triumph 2500 TC  Sydney December 20131974 Triumph 2500 TC

Sydney-siders love their vintage cars, like this perfectly restored Triumph 2500 TC originally launched almost 40 years ago in 1974, but in absolute mint condition. Triumph used to enjoy relatively high sales levels in the sixties and seventies in Australia, in line with its score in the UK. At the time, the Australian car market used to be much closer to the English one than it is today. You can check out 65 years worth of Australian Historical sales Data here (You need to become a Member to access the data tables).

Holden Commodore Sydney December 2013Holden Commodore in Paddington, Sydney

Holden Commodore Terrigal December 2013Holden Commodore in Terrigal, New South Wales

The new (and last) generation Holden Commodore has well and truly landed in Sydney, and I have observed a very interesting sales mix: most Commodores I have spotted are either the station wagon or high-spec sports variants like the SS. No ‘plain Jane’ versions yet.

1977 Holden Sandman Ute Sydney December 20131977 Holden Sandman ute. Many thanks to John for the pic.

Australia invented the passenger car-derived pick-up (or “ute” for utility vehicle) when Holden launched the 50-216 Coupe Utility back in 1951. Since then, this type of vehicle has become emblematic of Australia’s surfing culture and loads of specimens can still be seen both in cities and on the beach nowadays. Including this bright orange 1977 Holden Sandman spotted in Darlinghurst.

Subaru Impreza sedan Terrigal December 2013Subaru Impreza in Terrigal, New South Wales

Subaru has a special place in the hearts of Australian consumers, making this country one of the brand’s most important in terms of sales figures worldwide. The XV can literally be seen everywhere already, but less popular models in other corners of the planet still get their place under the sun, like the above Impreza sedan spotted in Terrigal, one hour drive North of Sydney.

VW Combi Sydney December 2013VW Combi in Bondi Beach, Sydney

All the cliches about blonde Australian surfers driving battered VW Combis are actually… true. The Combi is a nation-wide favourite and can still be seen frequently anywhere there are waves to surf…

More photos below.

Read more…

Categories: Australia

Holden pulls out: this is the end of Australian car manufacturing

December 11th, 2013 2 comments

Mike Devereux 11 Dec 2013GM Holden Chairman Mike Devereux: “Building cars in Australia is just not sustainable”

Mike Devereux, Chairman of General Motors’ Australian subsidiary, Holden, has just announced 30 minutes ago in a press conference live on Australian Television that Holden will cease to manufacture cars locally in 2017, almost seven decades after the very first Holden rolled out the Elizabeth, South Australia plant back in 1948. This announcement follows Ford stating last May  they would close their local operations by 2016. This is a big deal here in Australia where I reside, akin to Volkswagen announcing they would stop manufacturing in Germany or Renault in France, Holden being so intrinsically linked to Australian culture. However if you have been a regular BestSellingCarsBlog reader this should not come as a shock: see also Australia: Is the end of local manufacturing near? and Ford pulls out of Australia.

Holden Cruze CommodoreThe Cruze and Commodore are Holden’s last two locally produced models.

Mike Devereux cited exactly the same reasons for leaving Australia as Ford Australia CEO Bob Graziano did last May: “the sustained strength of the Australian dollar, a relatively high cost of production coupled with the relatively small scale of the domestic market, and the fact that Australia is one of the most competitive and fragmented auto markets in the world”. For Devereux, the bottom line is clear: “building cars in this country is just not sustainable, as painful as it is to say.” Devereux stressed the fact that Holden does build cars that are popular across the country, building and selling 2 of the Top 5 passenger cars here (the Holden Commodore and Cruze). However, he also admitted that “no matter which way we apply the numbers, the long term business case to make and assemble a car here is no longer viable.”

Toyota Camry Hybrid Australia December 2012Toyota cannot sustain local manufacturing alone.

This announcement, on top of the nearly 3,000 jobs directly affected at Holden, has a fatal knock-on effect on the entire automotive industry in Australia, potentially affecting as many as 200,000 jobs in the wider industry. It leaves Toyota as the sole local car manufacturer, which is simply not sustainable, almost certainly marking the end of local automotive manufacturing in the country. In an announcement published just now as a response to Holden, Toyota states “this will place unprecedented pressure on the local supplier network and our ability to build cars in Australia” and will now work with its suppliers to “determine whether we can continue operating (…) in Australia.” In fact, expect Toyota to pull the plug on local manufacturing soon, as parts manufacturers need a scale that only two carmakers can bring to be financially viable. Devereux himself announced back in June that ”[Manufacturing] is viable with two of us, I don’t think it’s viable with one of us.”

Holden 48-215 sedan launch in 1948The first Holden to roll out the Elizabeth plant in 1948.

With the Australian government recently signing a free-trade agreement with South Korea and on the verge of signing similar ones with Japan and China, the price of vehicles imported from these countries may be cut by as much as 5 to 10% in the coming months, making local manufacturing even less viable. R.I.P. the Australian automotive industry. This will immensely shake the economic tissue connected to this industry and will affect Australia’s economy as a whole but will also put an end to billions of taxpayers’ dollars ($1.8 billion for Holden alone between 2001 and 2012) injected to artificially sustain an industry bound to be delocalised sooner or later. Holden posted the 2nd biggest loss in its history in 2012 at $152.8 million. In any case, rarely had a single decision in the automotive industry had so many ramifications for the wider Australian economy.

Previous Australia post: Australia November 2013: Hyundai i30 and VW Golf shine

Categories: Australia