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Australia 2008: Corolla ahead until July, Commodore saved by Sportwagon version, Toyota Hilux #1 twice

Holden Commodore Sportwagon

* Click on the title for the Full Year 2008 All-models Top 276 and every monthly Top 40 *

The Australian car market is down 4% in 2008 at 1,012,194 registrations, still only the second time in history it is above 1 million.

The race for the title of 2008 best-selling model in Australia had two very distinct stages this year. The Toyota Corolla dominated the first half (#1 in January and June) and was #1 year-to-date until July, as the Holden Commodore dropped to its lowest ever monthly shares (3.9% in January, 4% in April and June) and lowest ever ranking (#3 in April and June).

Toyota Corolla in Broken Hill Australia, April 2008.

In July, the launch of the Commodore Sportwagon (station wagon) changed everything. The Commodore reclaimed the #1 spot, peaking at 7.1% in December – its best share since May 2005 – and finished the year at 51,094 sales and 5% share (including 8,200 Sportwagons), down 11% year-on-year and still the nameplate’s lowest ever year-end market share in the country but ahead of the Corolla, #2 at 47,901 units and 4.7% share.

Toyota Hilux in Kalgoorlie, Australia June 2005.

2008 is also the year the Toyota Hilux topped the Australian monthly rankings for the very first time. It did so in April and October, when it reached 4.9%, its best share ever. It is the first time a utility/commercial vehicle manages to top the models ranking #1 in Australia.

Behind the Mazda3 at #4 (stable at 3.3%), the Ford Falcon drops slightly faster than the market at -6% and 31,936 sales (3.2%), in spite of the arrival of the new generation in May but stays #5 ahead of the Toyota Yaris (-12%) and Camry (-13%). The Mitsubishi Lancer rejoins the year-end Top 10 at #8 with sales up 11% and 1.9% share thanks to the new generation while the Nissan Navara breaks into it for the first time at #10.

Honda CR-V

Among the other models reaching their highest ever monthly ranking in 2008, notice the Ford Focus at #6 and 2.2% in January and the Mitsubishi Triton at #7 and 2.5% in June. This year 4 models broke into the monthly Top 10 for the very first time in Australia, 2 of which in January, traditionally a month full of surprises as most of the country is on Summer holidays: The Honda CR-V (#8 at 1.9%) and Mazda2 (#9 at 1.8% – it later beat that record in September at #8 and 1.9%).

Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester was #10 for the first time at 2% in August and finished the year at #19 at 1.5%. Lastly, the Holden Rodeo, a rebadged Isuzu D-Max and one of Australia’s most successful ‘utes’ (Australian for pick-up truck), disappeared this year, the Isuzu-Holden contract coming to an end. It was replaced by another Thai-built GM ute: the Holden (Chevrolet) Colorado, which didn’t lose time getting its mark on the Australian market and broke into the Top 10 in October, as early as for its third month of sales.

Previous year: Australia 2007: Commodore resists new Corolla assault in millionaire market, Falcon down to #5

Next year: Australia 2009: Commodore hits lowest volume ever, Mazda3 #1 in January, the Chinese arrive

Full Year 2008 Top 276 and every monthly Top 40 below.

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