* See the Top 50 All-brands and Top 295 All-models by clicking on the title *
Based on VFACTS data, new vehicle sales in Australia offer an unusual picture in February: down 7.7% to 89.025 registrations, the weakest February score since 2014, pulling the year-to-date tally into negative territory at 173.935 units, down 3.8% over the same period in 2016. The big news this month is SUVs outselling passenger cars for the first time in Australian history. Although down 3.7%, the recreational vehicles sell 35.497 units for a 39.9% market share vs. 34.740 and 39% for passenger cars, down 12.2%. Passenger cars still edge out in the lead year-to-date at 69.660 (-6.8%) vs. 69.624 (-0.4%) for SUVs, but this leadership should be crushed within the next few months. Meanwhile Light Commercial Vehicles – mainly pickup trucks, nicknamed utes in Australia – are down 5.6% to 16.512 and Heavy Commercial Vehicles down 9.7% to 2.276. FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber says “the low February 2017 has to be put into context, [with February 2016 having] one extra selling day and seeing a lot of activity in the market that resulted in a 6.7 per cent surge over February 2015. Also to be kept in mind, heavy hailstorms damaging stocks in New South Wales and contributed for that state’s drop this month.
For once private sales outpace the market at -3% to 45.661 units (these include novated leases), with business sales down 11.5% to 33.939, rental sales down 23% to 4.013 and government sales down 8.5% to 3.126. Looking at the various States in the country, the three largest roughly follow the market : New South Wales (30.221) is down 7.4%, Victoria (24.917) down 7% and Queensland (17.474) down 6.6% while South Australia (5.354) is down 10.6%, Northern Territory (760) down 10.7% and Western Australia (7.526) down 13.7%. Only two States are up: the Australian Capital Territory (1.439) at +0.1% and Tasmania (1.334) up 1%. Looking into the origin of cars sold in Australia, Japan comes up first at 26.299 units, followed by Thailand (21.469) where most utes sold in Australia are manufactured, South Korea (12.832), Germany (7.171), USA (3.591), Australia (2.986) set to come to zero by the end of the year, England (2.904) and Hungary (119).
In the brands ranking, Toyota defies the surrounding gloom and posts a 0.7% year-on-year increase, even becoming the only brand gaining ground inside the Top 8. Year-to-date sales are up 0.8% to 28.862. Better still : the Japanese carmaker’s situation should improve further quite drastically over the next few months now that the compact SUV C-HR has hit Australian dealerships: it lands directly at #74 this month. Australia is one of th leading markets for SUVs and the C-HR falls right into the soft spot Australian consumers have for this type of vehicles, so expect a Top 10 ranking for Toyota’s newest nameplate sometime this year. Below Toyota, Mazda (-2.8%), Hyundai (-9.1%), Mitsubishi (-13.8%) gaining two spots to #4, Holden (-22%), Ford (-14.8%), Volkswagen (-6.2%) and Nissan (-26.1%) are in tow but all lose ground. Mercedes (+5.7%), Subaru (+5.9%), Renault (+22.9%) and Kia (+36.1%) are the biggest (and only) gainers in the Top 20. Jeep (-53.6%) and Peugeot (-47%) struggle, while among smaller brands Bentley (+87.5%), Maserati (+100%) and Infiniti (+138%) take off.
This month we welcome a “new” brand inside the Australian charts. MG, or Morris Garages, makes its grand return into Australia now under Chinese ownership: the brand now belongs to Shanghai Auto/SAIC. MG lands directly at #30 with 108 sales. Among Chinese manufacturers, this places MG below LDV (#28) but above Foton Light (#32), Haval (#35), Great Wall (#36) and Chery (#48). MG comes armed with three nameplates: MG6 Plus sedan (#145), MG3 hatch (#238) and GS SUV (#260). This is a great opportunity to take a more detailed look at Chinese models sales in Australia this month (see below).
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Over in the models ranking, the Toyota Corolla reclaims the monthly lead off the Mazda3 with 3.392 sales vs. 3.143 but the Mazda remains #1 year-to-date for now at 6.616 units vs. 6.335 for the Corolla. Sliding in-betweem the two compact cars is the Toyota Hilux which ends the month only 6 units off the first place at 3.386. However the Hilux once again loses the lucrative 4×4 ute market to the Ford Ranger at 2.380 vs. 2.497. The Hyundai i30 (-19%) rounds up the Top 5, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the next generation. The Mitsubishi Triton is back up 10 spots on January to #6 in spite of diving 8% year-on-year, distancing a slew of three SUVs: the Mazda CX-5 keeping the lead despite the imminent arrival of a new model, the Toyota RAV4 (+14%) and Hyundai Tucson (-14%). The Holden Commodore (-33%) plunges to #10 while the Kia Cerato is up 65% year-on-year and two spots on last month to break its Australian ranking record at #11.
Among recent launches, the Ford Escape – replacing the Kuga – is up 36 ranks on January to #67, the Toyota C-HR lands at #74 as detailed above, the Kia Picanto is down 17 spots to #86, the Suzuki Baleno up 16 to a record-breaking #87 and the Suzuki Ignis up one to #89, also the nameplate’s personal best. Along with the Toyota C-HR, the Audi Q2 is the other all-new nameplate to land directly inside the Australia Top 100 at #91, and it’s no coincidence that it also belongs to the compact SUV segment, the one truly on fire here. Luxury SUVs are also one to watch: the Jaguar F-Pace remains at a very high level at #124, the Maserati Levante is up 10 spots to #159 and 66 sales and the Bentley Bentayga up 17 to #257.
One year ago (1): Australia February 2016: Mazda, Hilux and Ranger shine in record month
One year ago (2): Australia February 2016: Now with Top 285 All-models (BSCB Exclusive)
Full February 2017 Top 50 All-brands and Top 295 All-models below.