Australia October 2012 Sydney Motor Show special – Part 3 Newcomer Opel refines target, Skoda aims at Top 15

Skoda Rapid

* See the full article and the Top 67 All-brands ranking by clicking on the title! *

This is Part 3 of my Sydney Motor Show special report, you can see Part 1 covering Toyota, Mazda, Ford and Holden here and Part 2 covering Hyundai, VW, Kia, Range Rover and Lamborghini here. This time we have a look at the two newbies at the Show, Opel and Infiniti, as well as Skoda, which is with Jeep the fastest growing manufacturer in Australia.

As hard as it is to believe given the brand has over a century of history, this is Opel’s very first appearance at any Australian Motor Show. Managing Director Bill Mott unveiled the Astra OPC and announced the model will be on sale in the country in February 2013. Opel had its very first month of sales in Australia in September, with 100 Astras, 44 Insignias and 30 Corsas changing hands. This means the brand ranks #28, ahead of Fiat, Citroen and Porsche…

Opel Astra OPC

Earlier in the year, former global Opel boss Karl-Friedrich Stracke revealed the company hoped to reach 15,000 sales in Australia by 2015/2016, equivalent to what Audi or BMW currently sell in the country. Opel since qualified this as a ‘stretch target’ so the Motor Show was a great opportunity to understand Opel’s true intentions for this market. Bill Mott told me: “We realise that other European brands have been present for many, many years and we are starting from scratch. Once the Opel range gets more complete, we would be very happy to be at the level of brands like Peugeot, Renault or Volvo within 3 to 4 years.” Now that’s a way more realistic target if you ask me. It means a spot in the Top 25 and around 5,000 annual sales.

The Mokka would help Opel establish itself in Australia.

As weird as it sounds to launch the Opel brand on the other side of the planet given the manufacturer’s problems in Europe, it is however a conscious strategy from General Motors. Bill Mott confirms: “Currently 90% of Opel sales are done in Europe, so there is a will to expand the brand worldwide to reduce this dependency, and Australia is only one of many countries is which Opel is being launched right now.” Israel, Chili and Singapore are now complete, with North Africa and the Middle-East in progress. Bill Mott also announced that he “raised his hand” to get the Mokka, Zafira Tourer and, if the Astra OPC proves a success, both the Corsa and Insignia OPC imported to Australia.

Lexus LF-LC Blue

I was also lucky enough to have a long chat with Matthew Wiesner, Director of Skoda Australia. Skoda is currently one of the two fastest-growing mainstream car brands in Australia with sales up a huge 66% over the first 9 months 2012 to 3,045 units. Only Jeep does better (+117%) while Great Wall and Land Rover follow at a distance, both at +38%. Matthew Wiesner unveiled the Rapid with a fun skit involving spacemen and Skoda’s very own Yeti mascot. He said to me: “Skoda’s role in the Volkswagen Group in Australia is to create a very strong presence amongst the Japanese and Korean brands. We aim to be somewhere between 1 and 2% of the market by 2019.”

See the 9 months 2012 Top 67 All-brands ranking by clicking on’Read more’ below.

See ‘Read more’ below for the full article featuring Infiniti, Lexus & 10 other brands.

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Australia October 2012 Sydney Motor Show special – Part 2 Hyundai gets sporty, Volkswagen and Kia power on

Hyundai i30 SR

* See the full article and the Top 20 best-selling brands by clicking on the title! *

This is part 2 of my special report on the Sydney Motor Show, you can see Part 1 here. We talked about Toyota, Holden, Mazda and Ford already. The only remaining brand in the Australian Top 5 best-sellers year-to-date in 2012 is Hyundai, up one spot and 5% to #4 with 68,460 sales, placing the i30 on the models podium for only the 2nd time ever last month and imposing the Veloster as the best-selling sportscar in the country. You can check out the 9 months 2012 Top 20 brands ranking at the end of this article. To get to the next level of sales – a podium in 2014 below Toyota and Mazda and ahead of Holden is not unthinkable – Hyundai understands it now needs to act like a local Australian brand, and this means amping up its sports/street creds.

Hyundai Veloster SR Rally Car

Toyota ‘owns’ various local sports events like the hugely popular Australian Football League (AFL), while homegrown Ford and Holden have specific sports ranges: Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) and Holden Special Vehicles (HSV). Hyundai already sponsors the fast-growing Soccer Championship (The A-League), and tested the waters today by debuting an “SR” sub-brand that is unique in the world. Granted, it’s nowhere near the crazy monsters from FPV and HSV but it was the main attraction at the Hyundai stand, with no less than 4 SR models presented: one i30, one Accent, and two Velosters: a Street Car and a Rally Car. An interesting evolution of the Hyundai brand in Australia.

Lamborghini presented the Sesto Elemento concept car: 0-100 km/h is just 2.5 sec!

Before we go any further I will share with you two sales updates for more ‘exotic’ brands because these rarely get talked about that way… When unveiling the all-new Range Rover, Gobal Operations Director Phil Popham revealed that the model’s global production is now fully allocated up until mid-next year. For its part, Automobili Lamborghini Commercial Director Fintan Knight announced that 1,000 Aventador have now been built and there is an 18 months waiting list for the supercar. Granted, this is not new news as the 1,000th Aventador was produced last July after only 15 months but it was new news to me! As a reminder it took the Aventador’s predecessor, the Murciélago, nearly 3 reach to reach that milestone, while Lamborghini’s all-time best-seller, the Gallardo, is fast approaching the 12,000 mark.

Nissan Pulsar. Or Sylphy. Or Sentra. Or Almera. Or…

Now a special thanks to Nissan for being the source of many future headaches when the time comes to calculate the best-selling nameplates in the world… The Japanese manufacturer launched the all-new Pulsar today. The Tiida nameplate has proven to be a no-go in Australia with disappointing sales, so the Pulsar monicker is reprised almost 8 years after being dumped. Yes but it’s not that simple. If the Pulsar hatchback is (logically) the new generation Tiida (as sold in China), the Pulsar sedan is in fact a Sylphy (in China), Sentra (in the USA) or Almera (in Russia) bearing no connection with the Tiida family. Plus the Versa sedan which replaces the Tiida sedan in most worldwide markets is sold in Australia as an Almera. Exactly.

VW Beetle

After hitting record volumes in 2010 (38,016) and 2011 (44,740), Volkswagen is headed for a third consecutive record year in Australia with sales up 25% year-on-year over the first 9 months of 2012 to 40,223, even passing Mitsubishi in September to rank #7 brand. Managing Director Anke Koeckler introduced the new gen Beetle for the first time in Australia and was kind enough to answer my questions. She told me “market share is our performance indicator. We wanted to achieve 5% by 2013 but we have already done this (4.89% after 9 months in 2012). But we don’t want to rush through and be too aggressive in the market.”

Is 25% growth sustainable over the long term? “This would probably not be possible each year, I think we have to consider a year of stabilisation, potentially when our pillar models are replaced and this might happen in 2013 with the Golf 7 launching in the first half. About the new Beetle, Anke Koeckler said “I’m always looking at the new Beetle as our icon model, doing more work for our brand values than actual strong sales.” With a new Beetle and a new Golf in 2013 which will mark the 60th anniversary of its presence in Australia, Volkswagen looks set to break yet more records…

See the Top 20 best-selling brands over 9 months 2012 in Australia below.

Read the full article featuring Kia by clicking on ‘Read more’ below.

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Australia October 2012 Sydney Motor Show special – Part 1 Toyota: “Hilux won’t be #1 in 2012″, Mazda: “Too close to call”

Good old me today at the Sydney Motor Show

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Today I had the privilege to attend the Sydney Motor Show as Founder of BestSellingCarsBlog, hopefully the first of a long list of Motor Shows around the planet I can report for you. The way it works is each manufacturer does a press conference, and afterwards the presenters are available to chat with the press, so you can imagine how excited I have been all day!

Toyota Corolla

Toyota unveiled the new generation Corolla with a high energy choreography on a mix of Australian music hits spanning the 45 years since the launch of the nameplate in 1967. All 11 generations of the model, which sold 1.2 million units in the country over the period, were present in Toyota’s area. Toyota has always maintained close links with this country, assembling the first Corolla outside of Japan here in the late 60s.

The Corolla’s unveiling involved a choreography on Australia’s biggest music hits.

As a result Australia is the first market outside of Japan where the new generation Corolla is available to purchase from next Monday 22 October. For those of you reading this in Europe, yes: the Auris is called Corolla in Australia. Toyota is about to celebrate its 10th consecutive year at #1 in the Australian market and will sell over 200,000 cars this year in the country, a feat no other manufacturer has ever achieved here.

Toyota predicts an all-time record Australian market in 2012 at 1.1 million units.

My big question for Matthew Callachor, Executive Director, Sales & Marketing at Toyota Australia, was whether the Hilux would be able to finish the year at #1. This would be a first for any Toyota model in the country. He answered: “I don’t see the Hilux get to #1 this year. It has been very strong and we still have good order banks for it but at the moment we are limited by production. The demand is here, but to become #1 we would have to increase production (in Thailand) and this will not happen this year.”

Toyota Corolla

Ok fine, 2012 may not be the year of the Hilux after all. But what about the all-new Corolla which will get its first full year of sales in the country in 2013? As a reminder, the current gen Corolla shot up to #1 in Australia as early as for its first month of sales in June 2007 but has failed to finish the year in pole position so far. Matt Callahor: “We’re trying to get everything we can get (in volume terms) next year, we haven’t got a clear forecast in terms of production yet but given the level of interest we’ve seen even before launching the car in the country, I think we’ll be very well placed next year.” All Corollas sold in Australia will be sourced in Japan.

The all-new Mazda6 will go on sale in Australia in December

Next was Mazda, having a record year in Australia in 2012. Mazda was the first importer to sell over 10,000 units in a single month (September) and sold more cars in September alone than over the first 9 months of 1987, 25 years ago… In fact, now that the all-new 6 has been confirmed for sale in December in Australia (one of the first countries in the world to get it), Mazda is sure to sell well over 100,000 cars this year for the first time in the history of the brand in the country.

Mazda CX-9

Along with the all-new 6, Mazda also unveiled the facelifted CX-9 in a World Premiere today. But my main question to Doug Dickson, Mazda Australia Managing Director, was whether the Mazda3 will be Australia’s favourite model for the 2nd year running in 2012, which would make Australia the only country in the world the crown that model. He said: “It’s too early to tell and too close to call.” Very prudent indeed.

Click on ‘Read more’ below to see the full article with more Mazda, Holden & Ford news.

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