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Australia March 2018: Mitsubishi snaps first podium this millenium, Holden at lowest-ever #10

The Triton hops to its best ranking in 4 years, helping Mitsubishi to a record #3.

* Now updated with the Top 50 All-brands and Top 280 All-models – click on title to see *

New car sales in Australia edge up 1.5% year-on-year in March to 106.988 registrations, a new record for the month, beating last year’s high mark of 105.410 units. This is the 9th monthly record in the past 11. The year-to-date volume is also a new record at 291.538 sales, up 4.4% on the same period last year and erasing the previous three-month record of 285.328 established in 2016. It’s only a little over than a year ago in February 2017 that SUVs outsold passenger cars for the first time, and since then they have set sail never to be seen again. SUVs are up a further 9.7% to 45.525 and 42.6% share vs. 39.4% a year ago while passenger cars are down 7.3% to 36.120 and 33.8% share vs. 37% in March 2017, a spectacular volte-face in the Australian market. Meanwhile light commercials – including utes, local slang for pickup trucks – edge down 0.4% to 21.897 and 20.5% share vs. 20.9% a year ago. Year-to-date, SUVs are up 10.9% to 123.214 and 42.3% while passenger cars are down 5.7% to 102.470 and 35.1% and light commercials are up 9.4% to 57.380 and 19.7%.  The remaining 3% of the market go to heavy commercials.

The Nissan X-Trail is the #1 SUV in Australia for only the 2nd time ever. Picture

In terms of sales channels, private sales drop 1.8% to 47.996, adding up to 139.215 YTD (-1.5%), business sales are stable to 44.690 adding up to 121.042 YTD (+9.9%), rental sales surge 40.7% to 7.386 and 13.785 YTD (+20.6%) and government sales fall 4% to 3.470 and 9.022 YTD (-2.8%). Petrol sales total 67.761, diesel 37.859, hybrid 1.202 and EV/PHEV 166 excluding Tesla which doesn’t communicate Australian sales. Looking into the origin of new car sales sold in Australia, Japan is tops at 33.539 (+9.1%) ahead of Thailand at 28.589 (+8%), South Korea at 15.021 (+2%), Germany at 8.461 (+6.8%), USA at 3.787 (-8.1%) and UK at 3.427 (-10.8%). Noteworthy is the fact that Hungary, Spain, South Africa, Mexico, Poland, China (765) and Argentina  are now above Australia as local production ended in 2017 and 709 runout Australian-made cars were sold in March. Looking at Australian states an territories, New South Wales/Sydney is first again at 34.754 (-2.6%) above Victoria/Melbourne at 31.105 (+6.3%), Queensland/Brisbane at 21.591 (+1.8%), Western Australia/Perth at 8.821 (+1.3%), South Australia/Adelaide at 6.332 (-0.9%), Australian Capital Territory/Canberra at 1.816 (+7.9%), Tasmania/Hobart at 1.502 (-2.2%) and Northern Territory/Darwin at 1.067 (+12.8%).

The last time Mitsubishi was that successful in Australia, its best-seller looked like this.

Toyota remains by far the most popular carmaker in Australia in March but drops 3.9% to 17.6% share, nevertheless hitting its highest first quarter volume in a decade at 52.465 (+8.1%). Mazda follows at 9.1% but falls 7.2% whereas Mitsubishi soars 16.2% to 8.2% and a new March volume record, snapping the third spot overall off Hyundai down 3% to 7.9%. After extensive research in our Australian archives, we are the first media outlet to be able to point out that Mitsubishi ranks on the Australian podium for the first time this millenium. It is not Mitsubishi’s highest share of late: it hit 8.8% last December, its highest since June 2003 when the brand held 9.1% of the market (#4). The last time Mitsubishi’s share surpassed 10% was in September 2002 (10.4%), ranking 4th again. Then, Mitsubishi was a still local producer – its operations ran from October 1980 to March 2008 – and had seen its market share slump significantly since becoming a full importer. During the eighties and nineties, the Australian market was obliterated by Holden, Ford and Toyota, so it is entirely possible that Mitsubishi had actually never ranked #3 monthly before. At the time, Mitsubishi regularly posted market shares of around 12%, as it was the case in 1986, 1987, 1988 when the Magna alone held 7.8% of the market, and 1993.

The new Commodore can’t prevent Holden from falling to its lowest ever ranking at home.

Below Ford (-2.4%), Nissan gains 10.2% to reclaim the 6th spot it holds year-to-date and the best performer in the Top 20 is once again Honda up a whopping 79.8% to #7 with 5.2%. Subaru (+3.8%) is up three spots to #8, distancing Volkswagen (+0.3%). But there are more big news in the Australian brands ranking: after falling to its lowest ever ranking and share at home last month, Holden hits another new low in March. With deliveries down a steep 29.1% year-on-year the Australian brand is down a further two spots to #10, seeing its share fall to a lowest-ever 4.8%. Holden could fall outside of its home Top 10 for the first time in the coming months as Kia, which outsold it in February, is only 32 sales below at #11 in March. The two new launches that Holden is counting on to revive its record-low sales are sputtering: the Commodore is down 52% on the previous gen a year ago – with 516 of its 990 monthly score being the new imported model – and the Equinox has been down month-onmonth ever since launch at just 327 units vs. 364 in February, 384 in January and 679 in December… This despite aggressive market campaigns for both nameplates including seven-year warranty and roadside assist. Further down the ranking, Chinese LDV (+242.8%) and MG (+167.9%), Lamborghini (+180%), Alfa Romeo (+44.6%), Volvo (+35.5%), Isuzu Ute (+24.4%) and Audi (+23.3%) make themselves noticed.

Thanks to the new ZS, Chinese MG sales are up 168% year-on-year in March.

Over in the models ranking, the Toyota Hilux (+2%) signs its 10th monthly win over the past 12 months but loses the 4×4 ute battle to its archenemy the Ford Ranger (3.224 vs. 3467) itself up 6% and accounting for a record 61% of Ford sales in Australia this month. Below the Toyota Corolla (-10%), the Mitsubishi Triton is up 16% to #4, its highest ranking since June 2014 when it hit #3 and only its third Top 4 finish in the past 5 years – and ever (add May 2013). The Nissan X-Trail surges 41% to a record 7th place (previous best: #8 in January 2017 and January 2018), snapping the title of best-selling SUV in the country for only the second time ever after November 2015. Just below, the Mitsubishi ASX soars 69% to #8, equalling its record ranking also reached in December 2015. The Mazda CX-5 (+7%) comes in at #9 and #3 SUV – but retains the segment lead YTD – followed by the Toyota RAV4 (+5%) rounding out the Top 10. Just outside, the Isuzu D-Max is up 23% to #12, just below its all-time high of #11 hit last December, while the Honda CR-V is propelled up 241% by the new generation, with the Subaru XV (+88%), Honda Civic (+86%), Honda HR-V (+32%) and Toyota Prado (+21%) also in great shape inside the Top 30. The Hyundai Kona (#39) tops all recent launches (<12 months) ahead of the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross (#57).

Previous month: Australia February 2018: Holden drops to lowest ranking and share ever

One year ago: Australia March 2017: Hilux leads, SUVs beat passenger cars again

Full March 2018 Top 50 All-brands and Top 280 All-models below.

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