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Australia Full Year 2011: Mazda3 breaks 15 years of Holden Commodore domination, possibly the first time since 1947 an imported model leads sales!


* NOW UPDATED with the All-models Top 290 ranking! Click on the title to see – The 2010 post has also been updated with an All-models Top 280 ranking. Many thanks to JB! *

The industry thought the Toyota Corolla would do it in 2007, but it happened this year. The 15 years of uninterrupted Holden Commodore domination have come to a shocking end: in 2011 the Mazda3 is the best-selling car in Australia. In a market down 3% but millionaire for only the 4th time in history at 1,008,437 registrations, the 3 sold 41,429 units, up 6% for a 4.1% market share vs. 40,617, down 12% for the Commodore. Strangely the Commodore was #1 of the monthly ranking 5 times this year vs. only 2 for the Mazda.

Advertising for the launch of the Holden Commodore in 1978

This puts an end to 33 years of reign of the Holden Commodore-Ford Falcon tandem (or “Falcadore”), one of the longest-lasting and most disputed rivalry in the world, even though Falcon sales had significantly weakened over the last few years. To understand the magnitude of this change, it’s a bit like if the VW Golf was not #1 anymore in Germany, replaced by the Renault Megane…

Holden launched in Australia in 1948

In fact, Australian-built models had been dominating the market since 1949 and the launch of the first “Holden” and even possibly since 1948 with the Austin A40 assembled locally. The Ford Falcon launch in 1960 transformed the market into a Ford-Holden fight for the title of best-selling model. It is well and truly possible that this year is the first time since World War 2 that an imported car leads car sales in the country!

Toyota Hilux

Staying at #3 but with sales down 9% at 36,124 units, the Toyota Hilux should get revived in 2012 with the new generation in dealerships since November. The Toyota Corolla is just 37 units below at #4 (-13%) and curiously managed to lead the market 5 times this year. The Japanese tsunami kicked it out of the Top 10 for a couple of months and was enough to prevent it a spot on the year-end podium, but 2012 should be much better with a new model scheduled to arrive in October.

Holden Cruze

The Holden Cruze is one of the success stories of 2011, with production switching to Adelaide during the year. Sales are up 19% to 33,784 units, it broke onto the podium 3 times this year and was just 31 units short of the Commodore in December. With the arrival of the hatchback version in late 2011, the Cruze should be Holden’s best-seller in 2012, and it would be the first time ever in the nameplate’s history that the Commodore is not the firm’s most popular model…

VW Golf

The other star of 2011 is the VW Golf, finishing the year up 21% to #11 with 18,682 sales but managing an incredible 3rd place in October with 3,337 sales and 3.9%, by far the brand’s best ever showing in Australia. Other good performers this year include the Nissan Navara reappearing in the annual Top 10 at a best-ever #7 and the Mazda2 up to #12 and leading its category ahead of the Toyota Yaris.

Ford Territory

While the Falcon drowned to its lowest ever sales in the 51 years of the nameplate’s life at 18,741 units (-37%), Ford had a very good year with other models: the Ranger is up 4 spots to #15, the Territory is up 11 ranks to #16, breaking into the Top 10 for the first time in 5 years in July, the Focus is up 12 spots to #19 and the Fiesta is up 8 ranks to #21.

Further down the ranking, notice the Nissan Dualis up to #34, Great Wall V240 up to #63, Hyundai Accent up to #70, VW Amarok landing at #86, Toyota FJ Cruiser landing at #106 and Audi A1 directly at #109.

In December, 82,459 cars were registered in Australia, down 5% year-on-year. The Toyota Corolla is #1 for the 4th month in a row at 4.4%, the Toyota Yaris is up to #6, the Ford Focus breaks into the Top 10 for the first time in years and the Nissan Dualis passes the 1,000 sales mark for the first time.

Other Australia Full Year 2011 posts:

Australia 2011: The Chinese have well and truly landed!

Australia 2011 State by State: Toyota Hilux king 3 times

Previous month: Australia November 2011: Ford Territory at best in 5 years

Previous year: Australia Full Year 2010: Holden Commodore #1 for 15th year in a row, now with full Top 280 ranking

Full Year 2011 Top 291, December Top 264 and every Monthly Ranking Table below.

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